By Noe Ramos |Staff Writer|
The topic of sex trafficking makes its way in a event at the San Manuel Student Union (SMSU).
The Osher Adult Re-entry Center (OARC) hosted an event for staff and students regarding the issues of domestic violence and sex trafficking on Jan. 24.
The event consisted of several guest speakers regarding to the topic of sex trafficking and domestic violence in the Inland Empire with the intention of building awareness of the growing issue of sex trafficking.
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with faculty and staff who are very unaware of how prolific sex trafficking is and want more information,” said Asia Pham, one of the organizers of the event.
Pham is a fourth year student and one of the faculty members of the OARC.
“Also being a college student, one’s schedule is very limited, and to get the chance to go out to an event is very improbable, but if we bring it here then it increases the likelihood that people are going to come,” continued Pham.
Other organizers of the event included people from the Women’s Resource Center and the Title IX office.
The event featured speakers that were CEOs of different organizations dedicated to spreading awareness, performers expressing and illustrating messages people don’t see at first glance and a survivor telling their own firsthand experiences.
Throughout the event, each speaker discussed various ways of spreading awareness.
”There are different kinds of trafficking and different ways that they are reputed. A lot of it has to do with grooming, that is the reason I wrote the book “The Grooming of America’s Teenagers,'” said Opal Singleton.
Opal is the CEO of Millions Kids and serves on the Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force for Riverside County.
A guest speaker who is survivor and advocate for domestic violence, told her story.
“I told myself I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed to fill a hole that was inside of me […] I felt that I could fill this hole by being here today,” said the survivor.
Among the guest speakers at the event were two performers that had gone on stage to spread awareness through art, such as interpretive dance and spoken word poetry.
Updates in the community were announced by Debbie Martis, another speaker at the event, who mentioned the opening of a home in Riverside for those that have fell victim to sex trafficking and domestic violence.
“The first part of the recovery is creating a place of safety and trust doesn’t come right away,” said Martis.
According to student Tasha Tanner, the event opened her eyes to a new perspective of the world.
“[…] Especially what’s happening in our own city, it’s a shame of what other human beings are doing to other human beings because they feel like they can,” said Tanner.
“It’s not right and I wish people would have a better understanding of what to do in a situation like this, whether they know the person or if they are just a bystander. No one should ever have to go through this alone,” continued Tanner.
Pham mentioned that it is important for people here at school to have tangible ways of connecting with the community.
She invites everyone to assist in spreading awareness for sex trafficking and domestic violence; there is no need to specialize in subjects such as psychology or criminal justice.