Summit Against Human Trafficking speakers educate and empower participants

Patricia Miller shares her story as a sex trafficking survivor at the Summit Against Human Trafficking. Miller participated as one of 10 breakout session speakers at the event. (Maddi Driggs)

Experts educated BYU students, professors and other community members during the Summit Against Human Trafficking on Feb. 11, about the issue of human trafficking and how to help fight it.

The BYU Anti-Human Trafficking club hosts a Summit Against Human Trafficking each year to educate and empower BYU students and the greater community. Speakers from all over the nation come to share their experiences and knowledge about the subject.

As participants checked in at the event, their hands were marked with a red X, a common symbol for anti-human trafficking, according to Danica Baird, a BYU law student who planned the event. The attendants were invited by Baird to participate in a photo booth to spread the word about this issue.  

The event was split into two halves. The attendants listened to keynote speakers Lillian Martino Bradley and Laura Lederer before splitting into breakout sessions with various speakers and teachers.

Bradley was born in Ghana and was raised by her adoptive parents in Heber City. She discovered that if she hadn’t been adopted, she would have been sold into human trafficking. Bradley started a non-profit “Fahodie for Friends” when she was 16 years old. “Fahodie for Friends” focuses on providing freedom for people in Ghana who are being trafficked. Bradley has also participated in many different service projects and organizations.

Her speech was titled “Save the Silenced, The Epidemic of Modern Day Slavery.” She spoke on Saturday about how she became passionate about the issue of human trafficking and the ways that everyone can help.

“This journey for me started . . . with one person,” Bradley said. “I’ve quickly found that over the years (change) really is in the little things.”

She also dispelled common myths of trafficking and telling listeners how to recognize signs of trafficking in their area. The theme of her speech, “You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know,” is a quote from William Wilberforce.

Bradley finished her speech with a powerful poem about being rescued from the possibility of human trafficking.

“I am not a problem solved. I am a human loved,” Bradley said.

Lederer, the second keynote speaker, focused her comments on painting the picture of what human trafficking really consists of. She currently serves as Subject Matter Expert for the U.S. Department of Defense when they host mandatory training on trafficking in persons.

The title of her speech was “The Link Between Organized Crime and Human Trafficking.” Lederer used specific federal cases and other examples of human trafficking throughout her speech to show explicitly what trafficking looks like.

“Because it happens behind closed doors … and in places where people do not often see it, we have to make the harm visible,” Lederer said.

Lederer talked about the economics and business of human trafficking. She also gave the listeners a deep inside look at the statistics of this type of organized crime at a global, national and local level.

“International Justice Mission says that there are 22 million in bonded labor alone, in debt bondage, or in inter-generational slave labor,” Lederer said.

Her purpose was to show the nature and scope of the issue as a whole.

“Just being educated, you will begin to see things differently,” Lederer said.

Lederer and Bradley also answered questions from the audience for a few minutes before the participants went to the breakout sessions.

Speakers at the breakout sessions consisted of survivors, counselors, scholars and nationally recognized authors. There were also representatives from the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and the Utah’s Trafficking in Persons Taskforce.

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