NOVEMBER 15, 2012
by Shannice Singletary ’14, Contributing Writer
The mood at 7 p.m. , Tuesday in Burgiss Theater was light, filled with chatter. But the demeanor changed shortly after the lights dimmed.
The featured film, FREEDOM: Indifference is Not An Option, told the true-life stories of three people who were held captive against their will and forced to be modern day slaves. It was produced by the Passion Conference and is a part of the organization’s 2012 72 Days For Freedom campaign.
The presentation was hosted by Natalie Terlinsky, president of the on-campus chapter of the International Justice Mission and was followed by a lecture, “Introduction to Human Trafficking” delivered by Lieutenant Michael Hildebrand of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Hildebrand, human trafficking is defined when someone is forced against their will through physical force, fraud or coercion.
“What this movie doesn’t show you is the story you don’t hear…like the five-year-old killed while her mom’s boyfriend was pimping her out, or the girl who was kidnapped and called her parents for help and they told her they didn’t want her back. These are stories I’ve heard, and they’re not just happening around the world….they’re happening right here.”
Known cases of human trafficking in South Carolina have been tracked from 2007 to 2010. According to the Polaris Project, a non-profit that manages a national human trafficking hotline, there were 86 human trafficking calls in South Carolina in 2010. Most of those were linked to forced labor and girls forced into commercial sex.
Hildebrand says most of the state’s human trafficking offenses occur in vacation spots Charleston, Myrtle Beach and along Interstate 95, a major thoroughfare.
Hildebrand said about 40,000 in the U.S. are victims of human trafficking. Roughly have of human trafficking perpetrators are U.S. citizens, which allows them to blend into society.
The crime of human trafficking, he said, transcends political and nationalities.
“We’re not talking about country or law or politics when we’re talking about human trafficking. We’re talking about people,” he said. “Luckily these stories (in the movie) ended well. But the psychological toll after being sexually or physically abused, you can’t be whole again after that.”
The movie FREEDOM: Indifference is not an Option can be viewed in its entirety here