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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Students protest modern-day slavery in 24-hour demonstration

By Katja Tunkkari

Beginning Thursday, March 1, members of Western’s International Justice Mission chapter held a 24-hour protest in Red Square that called for an end to modern-day slavery and human trafficking.

The major focus of the demonstration was to encourage support for the End Modern Day Slavery Act Initiative, a bill introduced to Congress in 2016 that seeks to prioritize the eradication of modern-day slavery.

Modern-day slavery, otherwise known as human trafficking, comes in many forms. According to the United Nations, over 20 million people are subjected to sex trafficking, domestic servitude, forced labor, child labor and more.

Natasha Bennett is the president of Western’s International Justice Mission chapter. Bennett helped organize the event in Red Square where herself and members of the chapter encouraged students to support the initiative.

“We’re all taking time out of our week, for us it’s 24 hours, and we’re asking students to call their representatives to support the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act,” Bennett said.

Western’s chapter is not alone – the International Justice Mission has chapters on college campuses all over the country  that also participated in the protest this week, Bennett said.

Bennett and her fellow International Justice Mission members set up camp in Red Square yesterday at noon and worked in shifts to stay there all throughout the night. The protest attracted large numbers of students and encouraged them to call their senators in support of the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act, Bennett said.

“It’s really awesome – every call that we give is equal to 10 handwritten letters, or 100 emails to Congress. It really makes a difference,” Bennett said.

The International Justice Mission tackles human rights with a specific focus on modern-day slavery, an issue that they say is tragically common all over the globe, especially in areas where rule of law is weak.

Tennessee Senator Bob Corker launched the End Modern Slavery Initiative Act with a goal of raising $1.5 billion. This funding would be awarded as grants to organizations like the International Justice Mission who are working on solving the issue, Bennett said.

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