Modern day slavery is an issue often overlooked, but one that shackles millions of people in every country around the world in the form of human trafficking. Here on campus, the International Justice Mission Boise State Chapter (IJM BSU) works to shed awareness on this issue, and bring to life the fact human trafficking directly affects us all.
Brittany Partridge, cofounder of The Red Thread Movement, an international non-profit and the international wing of IJM BSU, served as keynote speaker during a human trafficking discussion on Saturday, Oct. 13.
“The personal aspect that comes with modern day slavery is it is not something only happening in Romania or Nepal, but it is something that exists in the United States and exists in Boise, Idaho and quite frankly slaves work for us whether we know it or not,” Partridge said. “We may not be buying prostitutes from a brothel, but through forced labor, through products we consume, slaves work for us and we are part of this supply and demand cycle that perpetuates slavery.”
Partridge, a senior at Abilene Christian University in Abilene, Texas, became aware of human trafficking as a high school student working in a Romanian children’s camp. At 17, Partridge got a first hand look at the faces of
modern day slavery, and they were those of girls her own age being trafficked for sex.
“Suddenly, the picture in my head about slavery wasn’t these plantations or slave ships, it was kind of this picture of myself,” Partridge said. “I was looking at these girls who were the same age as me, they lived in a different country, but they were essentially slaves in the same way people were enslaved back in the 18th and 19th century.”
From there, Partridge launched the Red Thread Movement, a non-profit which, in the most simplistic manner, aids in the rehabilitation of Nepalese victims of sex trafficking by selling red woven bracelets made by these victims.
“(Partridge) started this at 17 as a student in her dorm room, like we are, and now it is one of the fastest growing non-profit organizations in the country,” Lance Moore, senior communication major and president of IJM BSU said. “This is a young girl who has just turned 21 and already has this involvement.”
Human sex trafficking is estimated to victimize between ten and 40 million people worldwide. According to Partridge, modern day slavery is a business high in rewards and low in risk for victimizers.
“It is high reward because they are making a profit off of something they don’t have to pay into,” Partridge said. “And it is low risk because not that many people know much about it or are doing much about it.”
Partridge said she hopes students take away a message of involvement from her speech and experiences, not only in sex trafficking, but in whatever they are passionate about.
“A person could be bought and sold for 90 dollars,” Partridge said. “I was just think about what I could buy with 90 dollars and in reality is that my cell phone was more expensive than a person’s life. Our society has relegated people to be about as useful as a Styrofoam cup: it could be bought, it could be sold, it is used and it is crumpled up, thrown away and it is easy to get another one.”