News
10:11 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Museum Combats Human Trafficking

A permanent exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati is doing its part to eradicate human trafficking and modern-day slavery worldwide.

WCBE intern RaeGina Covington reports.


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JODIE MCFARLAND, THE MANAGER OF VOLUNTEER INITIATIVES AT THE FREEDOM
CENTER, SAYS ITS FOR VISITORS TO THINK SLAVERY ENDED IN THE UNITED STATES
150 YEARS AGO WITH THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION. HE DESCRIBES VISITORS'
REACTIONS WHEN THEY FIRST ENTER THE MUSEUM'S EXHIBITION, INVISIBLE:
SLAVERY TODAY, WITH ITS SUSPENDED WOOD CRATES STAMPED IN BOLD BLACK
LETTERS READING KILN WORKER, CHILD SOLDIER, SEX SLAVE.

McFarland: TYPICALLY THERE IS A LOT OF SURPRISE. SOME SHOCK. SADNESS
OCCASIONALLY. THERE'S A LOT OF SILENCE WHEN PEOPLE EXIT. I THINK JUST
TRYING TO WRAP THEIR HEAD AROUND THE CONCEPT THAT THIS IS SOMETHING THAT
IS STILL IN EXISTENCE.  MAYBE THEY WERE NOT AWARE THAT IT ACTUALLY COULD
BE SO CLOSE TO HOME TO THEM BUT I THINK ALSO THE IDEA AS THEY COME AWAY
WITH THAT THERE IS THAT INITIAL REACTION. BUT IT SHOWS THERE IS COMPASSION
ABOUT THE ISSUE AND A REAL PASSION TO TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND MAKE A
CHANGE AND THAT IS ONE THING THAT THE EXHIBITION PROMOTES IS THE HOPE THAT
WE CAN BRING AN END TO THIS.

THE INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION, OR I-L-O, ESTIMATES THAT 27 MILLION
PEOPLE ARE ENSLAVED IN THE WORLD TODAY AND EACH YEAR NEARLY 800,000 WOMEN
AND CHILDREN ARE TRAFFICKED ACROSS NATIONAL BORDERS.  OHIO, HAS BEEN
RANKED 5TH IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING DUE TO ITS MAJOR HIGHWAY SYSTEMS AND ITS
PROXIMITY TO THE CANADIAN BORDER. OF THE 5 FORMS OF MODERN DAY SLAVERY:
DEBT BONDAGE, CHILD LABOR, FORCED LABOR, DOMESTIC SERVITUDE AND SEX
SLAVERY, 88% OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN OHIO INVOLVES SEX SLAVERY AND 84% OF
VICTIMS IN OHIO WERE BORN IN AMERICA, ACCORDING TO THE OHIO HUMAN
TRAFFICKING TASK FORCE.

CINCINNATI NATIVES, 39-YEAR-OLD SOCIAL WORKER JUANE MADARIS, AND
23-YEAR-OLD AMERICORPS TEACHER, KELSEY WILKENS, WALK THROUGH THE INVISIBLE
GALLERY DURING THEIR DOCENT TRAINING CLASS.  ALTHOUGH FAMILIAR WITH THE
HISTORY OF SLAVERY IN THE US, THEY BOTH SAY HEARING THESE STORIES HAVE
MADE THEM CONSCIENTIOUS ABOUT HOW THEIR ACTIONS IMPACT OTHERS.

Wilkens:  I WANT TO TRY TO BE MORE CONSCIOUS OF MY CONSUMERISM AND WHAT I
DO CONSUME. ITS DIFFICULT ON AN AMERICORPS STIPEND TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE
KINDS OF THINGS BUT TRY TO BE MORE CONSCIOUS AND MORE AWARE OF THAT AND
HOW THE CHOICES I MAKE IN MY LIFE IMPACT THE WORLD AROUND ME.

Madaris:IT'S LIKE WE KNOW ITS THERE BUT WE REALLY DON'T WANT TO LOOK AT
LIKE THE WAY I SEE IT HERE NOW... WE SEE IT ON THE STREETS EVERYDAY. WE
JUDGE PEOPLE. WE LOOK AT PEOPLE. WE THINK THAT THEY'RE OUT THERE BECAUSE
OF THIS... BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE OUT THERE. AND WE DON'T REALLY REALIZE
THAT MAYBE THEY'RE NOT OUT THERE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO BE OUT THERE. THAT
THEY MAYBE THEY'RE BEING FORCED OUT THERE....um  (CRYING) I JUST FEEL LIKE
MORE PEOPLE NEED TO BE AWARE OF WHAT'S GOING ON AND TAKE SOME TYPE OF
ACTION AND STOP IGNORING IT, BECAUSE LIKE I SAID, IT COULD BE YOU.

IN 2010 CONGRESS AND PRESIDENT OBAMA DECLARED JANUARY NATIONAL HUMAN
TRAFFICKING AWARENESS MONTH TO GET THE WORD OUT OF THIS BORDERLESS,
BILLION-DOLLAR CRIMINAL INDUSTRY AND STRENGTHEN EFFORTS TO ABOLISH MODERN
DAY SLAVERY.  MCFARLAND SAYS HISTORY SHOWS AS WORD SPREADS ABOUT THOSE WHO
ARE ENSLAVED, MORE AND MORE PEOPLE HEAR THE CALL TO PROVIDE SAFE PASSAGE
FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM.

McFarland: ONCE PEOPLE LIKE WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON WITH HIS LIBERATOR
NEWSPAPER; HARRIET BEECHER STOWE WITH UNCLE TOM'S CABIN. ONCE THAT
INFORMATION WAS MADE MORE AVAILABLE THEN PEOPLE BEGAN TO REALIZE THIS WAS
SOMETHING THAT THEY COULD NO LONGER BE APATHETIC ABOUT. THEY NEEDED TO
TAKE A POSITION ON ONE SIDE OR THE OTHER. I THINK IT MADE A DIFFERENCE IN
GROWING THAT ABOLITIONIST MOVEMENT. SIMILARLY TODAY PEOPLE ARE VERY
SURPRISED UPON SEEING THE EXHIBITION AND LEARNING MORE ABOUT WHATS OUT
THERE. THIS IS A VERY REAL ISSUE. MANY PEOPLE COME AWAY WITH AGAIN WITH
THE INSPIRATION AND CHALLENGE TO ASK THEMSELVES WHAT CAN I DO AND HOW MUCH
CAN I DO GOING FORWARD?

OPENED IN OCTOBER 2012, THE 4,000 SQ. FT. INVISIBLE GALLERY IS THE WORLD'S
FIRST MUSEUM-QUALITY, PERMANENT EXHIBITION FEATURING SUBJECTS OF MODERN
DAY SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING. THIS IS WCBE INTERM, RAEGINA COVINGTON.