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  • Human Trafficking, Local

    Human Trafficking – When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    Human Trafficking

    Human Trafficking

    When Evil Hides in Plain Sight

    By Maggie Thompson

    There are more human slaves today than ever before in history.

    Generating up to $35 billion annually, human trafficking has become one of the greatest human rights challenges of this century. In the United States (U.S.), there is a 147-mile stretch of Interstate 20 between Atlanta, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama called “Sex Trafficking Superhighway.”

    Shockingly, 40% of human trafficking in the U.S. happens in the South. This is primarily due to the surrounding international travel hubs such as Atlanta and Houston. Although trafficking is so globally prevalent, it remains in the shadows of society. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB) African American Studies program hosted a documentary screening and panel discussion on human trafficking in September (2017). Carlon Harris, an African American studies major and graduating senior, made and presented the documentary. 

    Through his research, Harris is hoping to transform the subject of human trafficking to an everyday conversation piece by localizing the issue and bringing awareness to the people of Birmingham. “Human trafficking happens 365 days of the year. So basically it can happen anytime, anywhere. Most victims, they will pass you,” Harris stated in an interview with Birmingham’s WBRC Fox 6 News. Kathy Taylor, a survivor, and human trafficking advocate is the center of Harris’ documentary. On camera, Taylor answered questions and shared some of her own experiences as a trafficking victim including the fact that her victimization began on a college campus.

    After the screening, panelists discussed the issues that accompany human trafficking, the steps law enforcement is taking towards prevention and what the public can do to help. The panelists included: Helen Smith of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sergeant Anthony Williams of Birmingham Police Department and Dr. Robert Blanton, UAB Professor of Government. 

    Human trafficking, which is fueled by poverty and gender discrimination, is estimated to surpass the drug trade industry in less than five years.

    Subsequently, traffickers are becoming more powerful and knowledgeable as society continues to allow the submergence of the massive issue modern slavery has become. Although it is primarily men that run this trade, women are also included. Pimps and Johns are common names for these men and women. They control and terrorize these victims. Victimizers use fraud, force and coercion to lure their victims into captivity, sometimes even using victims as bait.

    However, not all traffickers look or act the same.

    Human trafficking does not discriminate and it is nowhere near being transparent. Therefore, anyone can become a victim or a victimizer. Some victims find that their only option toward escape is to become a victimizer themselves and view the “promotion” from prostitute to pimp as a natural process.

    In conclusion, creating awareness is the first step towards ending human trafficking.

    Panels and organized events that educate the public on the facts of human trafficking can act as a gateway to major prevention as well as putting an end to what has become the greatest human rights challenges of this century. The University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Institute for Human Rights is working hard to promote prevention and awareness by informing students on the indicators of human trafficking and how to identify and help a potential victim.

    If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, call 1-888-373-7888 or text 233733.
    For tips on how to stay safe and aware of your surroundings, click here,
    And for the Human Trafficking Hotline site, click here.
  • Articles, College, Local, TRENDING

    Interview With A DACA Affected Student: Caren Tinajer-Sanchez

    Caren Tinajer-Sanchez is a student affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) an American immigration policy that allows certain individuals who entered the U.S. illegally as minors to receive a renewable visa to be eligible for a work permit and attend college. Read about her experience below!

    Question: Can you tell me about yourself.
    A: My name is Caren Tinajero-Sanchez. I am currently a sophomore at The
    University of Alabama at Birmingham pursuing a degree in Nursing. I
    was born in Mexico City, Mexico and brought to Calera, Alabama at the
    age of 6. I have two older brothers and a younger one.

    Q: What were you dreaming of studying under DACA?
    A: With DACA my dreams of becoming a nurse were finally starting to
    come true. After getting a degree in nursing and working as a nurse, I
    wanted to go to Troy university and get a major in American Sign

    Q: Explain your reaction when you heard that DACA would be

    A: After hearing the news that the DACA Act would be terminated, I felt
    that all my hard work was worthless, all the late-night studying was
    nothing, all the money and time in college would be a waste because,
    without DACA, I would not be able to attend college anymore and
    pursue my dreams.

    Q: Did you take any kind of action after you heard the news? If so, what
    A: Not really because I was in class when I found out the news but my
    campus, UAB, had already organized a solidarity rally the following
    day, and that’s when I knew it was time to fight harder so I decided to
    share my story.

    Q: What would you tell young girls who may relate to you?
    A: My advice for other young girls who may be related to me is that this is
    no time to panic instead we should make our voices stronger and let
    them be heard. We should not feel like we are alone because about 800,000 other dreams are in the same situation as us and only together we can overcome this bump on our road to success.

    Q: What do you think would be helpful for readers to get out of your interview?
    A: I want readers to understand that we, DACA recipients, were brought
    here as children and did not know any better. The only thing our parents
    were looking for was a better future as well as a safer country. Many
    people have a misconception about what DACA provides for us. DACA
    gives us a two-year renewable work permit. With the work permit we
    are allowed to get a driver license and go to college. With DACA we are
    not allowed to receive any kind of help from the government such as
    financial aid or scholarships.

    Q: How can readers help?
    A: If you want to help, call your congressman and let them know you
    support DACA. You can also go out to rallies and let your voices be
    hear that you want DACA to continue or a more permanent solution.

    Thank you Caren Tinajer-Sanchez for sharing your experience!

  • Articles, Health, Local, Travel

    ZYP Bike Sharing with GirlSpring

    Birmingham introduced ZYP Bikes to the community in 2015. ZYP is a bike sharing program that allows individuals to “explore Birmingham on two wheels.” Since its debut, I have personally ridden the ZYP bikes twice. You wouldn’t think bike riding would be so fun, but it is definitely an unforgettable experience when you try it with friends. Many people do indeed already ride bikes, but many of us have not touched one for years. They say it’s a skill you never forget and boy are they right!
    A few days ago on March 28, I was given the opportunity to try ZYP bikes again with GirlSping! We got our bikes from the station near Innovation Depot and from there, we went to Linn Park, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park, and several buildings like the Alabama Power building and the Regions building, both sponsors of ZYP bikes.
    The process is very easy. Once you buy a pass, you unlock the ride from the station dock and return it in 45 minutes. If you haven’t finished riding, you’ll simply need to take the bike back out after using your pass. You can repeat this as long as your pass is still active. ZYP bike sharing is fun whether you’re just getting familiar with the city or even if you’ve been here almost your whole life. It’s rewarding to realize you can actually still ride a bike! But it’s also a good way to see your city in a different way.