While most people consider slavery a thing of the past, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship looked at its continued presence in the modern world during their annual event, “Love Out Loud.”
Tour guides led students into different rooms, each representing a modern example of slavery. The first room included plots of grass, coffee beans and a painted backdrop where guides explained how people are abducted and taken far from their homes to a plantation, where they are paid little to nothing and have no way to get back home.
Another room with sewing machines and garments represented the underpaid, overworked people, who are often severely injured on the job, and promptly fired.
Janell Salmon, an ICF member and a junior majoring in human development, led a discussion following the tour in hopes of changing consumers’ attitudes toward the products they buy.
“We want to educate people about this issue, want them to know there are ways to respond, to make the leap,” said Salmon, a junior majoring in human development. “For instance, where you can buy your coffee, and how you can take this into consideration.”
After the tour, participants were led into a “response room,” where fair-trade snacks were being served.
Claudia Maisch, the president of Corazon de Dahlia, a group tabling at the event, noted that human trafficking is often not on consumers’ minds while shopping.
“There is a real disconnect,” said Maisch, a sophomore majoring in Latin American and Caribbean studies. “People generally just go with what’s most convenient or cheapest. But this may be worst for those workers.”
The two other scenes in the tour represented places a bit closer to home, such as the city of Binghamton.
A living room scene represented the exploitation of women from other countries who are lured to the U.S. with the promise of a better life, but find themselves sold into indentured servitude or slavery in American homes.
The next room featured another part of the house: the bedroom, complete with a laptop, a mattress and clothes sprawled out. This room represented sexual exploitation, when women are sold as sex slaves and often kept in brothels.
Kathleen Koessler, a sophomore majoring in accounting, said the event was eye-opening.
“Someone told me there were brothels in Binghamton, and it really made me think,” she said.
Other student groups, including Tomorrow’s Hope in North Korea, tabled the event, representing other exploited groups.
Emily Weinschenk tabled for Corazon de Dahlia, a group started to support a Binghamton alumni-founded center for youth in Peru.
“Trafficking is an issue in Peru, even though our focus is on the center, we still rally for human rights,” said Weinschenk, a sophomore double-majoring in Spanish and human development.