Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Love146 works to end sex trafficking

Lindsey Treffry | rawr

Love146 sounds like a relationship class — how to thrive in a marriage — or a club on hugs and kisses. But Love146 is a University of Idaho club that combats the spread of child sex trafficking.
Led by president Lauren Layton, the club attempts to raise awareness of the annual $32 billion that sex trafficking generates. According to the Love146 international organization, this makes trafficking in persons the second most lucrative crime in the world — behind drugs.
“Love146 is an internationally based organization that promotes human rights, more specifically,” said Love146 officer Andy Read, an international studies and political science major. “They’re advocating against child sex slavery.”
According to Love146.org, two children are sold every minute for sex.
While Read said the international organization’s on-ground work has most recently been in southeast Asia, Layton said Seattle is the biggest importer for sex trafficking in the U.S. due to the sea port location.
100,000 people are imported into the U.S. for sex trafficking purposes, according to Love146.org.
“People pay attention to other humanitarian causes, because people in the U.S. assume it’s not happening in the U.S.,” Layton said. “It’s not only pertinent to our nation, but our region.”
As a Love146 Task Force, the UI club educates themselves on human trafficking statistics while raising awareness and annual funds for the international organization.
In October, Love146, in partnership with the International Textiles & Apparel Association club, held a “flash” fashion show, where models wore human trafficking statistics on their clothing. Secretary Isla Brazil said every third model was styled in red, while the rest were styled in black. She said the red represented the one-third of girls who are sold for sex trafficking within the first 48 hours they are homeless.
Love146 has also set up tables around campus, handing out fliers and free hot chocolate. They accepted donations at the tables through their “Loose change, loosen chains” campaign and sold handmade rings for $10. Brazil said revenue from the rings has only reached about $50 and other fundraising opportunities have not been so successful.
“We want to gain the revenue,” Brazil said. “Things haven’t gone our way so far, but we’ve gained a ton of awareness on campus.”
Love146 also holds bi-weekly movie showings on Sundays and members have had Skype sessions with international Love146 presidents. 
Read said the most successful film showing was “Call and Response,” a documentary on human trafficking.
“Human trafficking is such a hot topic,” Layton said. “It’s something that is so hard for people to wrap their heads around.” 
Love146 meetings are held every other Tuesday.
“Since I’ve joined, it’s great to be around people who just have good energy to them,” Brazil said. “Even if you can’t come every week or every meeting, it’s great to be a part of and sex trafficking is brought to your attention.” 
Brazil said members include a mix of athletes, international studies students, marine biologists and various other majors. Prospective members can visit the club Facebook page or UI’s club page for contact information.
“The fact that I’m born with a chance and am able to come to this school and educate others on this, is a blessing,” Brazil said. “I feel for these girls and these boys who have gone through this and … are still out there and haven’t been helped.”
Why the name Love146?
Love 146.org said the international president and co-founder of Love146, Rob Morris, traveled to Southeast Asia in 2002 to see how he could fight child sex trafficking. Morris went undercover with a few of the co-founders and investigators to a brothel where they witnessed children being sold for sex. Morris stood with predators in a small room, looking at girls through glass panes who all wore red dresses with an identification number. He knew all these children were raped every night, “seven, 10, 15 times.” He said they all looked vacant, with no life left in their eyes, except for one girl, with the number 146.
“She was looking beyond the glass,” Morris said. “She was staring out at us with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl.”
Because he was part of an undercover investigation of teh brothel, the members were unable to immediately help. When the brothel was raided, some time later, children were rescued, but the girl numbered 146 was no longer there.
“We do not know what happened to her,” Morris said. “She changed the course of our lives.”

As seen in Jan. 13 issue of rawr.

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