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Tuesday, Sep 23, 2014

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EndSlaveryWeek_1

Jillian Mourning (center), a survivor of human trafficking, poses with members of the Ohio University chapter of the End Slavery Movement. The "X" symbol has come to represent the fight to stop human trafficking worldwide.

Photographer: Megan Westervelt

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OHIO senior Samantha Moon signs the End Slavery petition after the panel discussion on Monday, Nov. 4.

Photographer: Megan Westervelt

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Megan Gallagher, a Scripps College of Communication senior and founder of the OHIO chapter of the End Slavery Movement, welcomes everyone to the first event of End Slavery Week, which was a panel discussion about human trafficking.

Photographer: Megan Westervelt

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OHIO’s End Slavery Week features survivor speaker, panelists


Ohio University's End Slavery Movement devoted this past week to raising awareness about human trafficking, an organized crime affecting upwards of 27 million people around the world. Human trafficking survivor Jillian Mourning delivered the keynote event to a rapt audience of more than 500 on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Other events included a panel discussion, an art show, a lunch-and-learn, a documentary screening and an expo showing a day in the life of a slave.

Mourning, a native of Chillicothe who now resides in Charlotte, N.C., was tricked into working with a man who promised to represent her as a model while in college. During one modeling trip to Arizona, her manager and two other men raped her. The incident was filmed and the video was used to blackmail Mourning. She eventually withdrew from school and the manager was arrested and jailed after an FBI investigation. Eventually, Mourning decided to speak out and started a non-profit called All We Want Is Love that focuses on preventing human trafficking and sex slavery.

Mourning ended the evening with a quote by William Wilberforce, "You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know."

The End Slavery Movement was started by Megan Gallagher, a communication studies major whose goal is to raise awareness about the issue of human trafficking by reaching out to a generation of college students who she believes can make the difference. Gallagher attended a conference about human trafficking and was shocked to learn how common the practice is.

"At the conference, they challenged all 60,000 of us to do something and to start a movement. So I did," she said. "I decided to create a movement from the bottom up. College students are an untapped gap in human trafficking activism. We have the body of people and the manpower that these non-profits don't have."

Gallagher said the End Slavery Movement is a social movement she hopes to spread around the region and continue to work on after graduation.

Monday's kickoff discussion for End Slavery Week featured a panel of anti-human trafficking advocates, legislators and law enforcement officers. Panelists focused on what a human trafficking case entails and covered different indicators that will help to identify a trafficking victim.

"As the knowledge about this issue grows," said one panelist, "more cases like this are expected."

Zach Pierson, a junior education major, attended the panel discussion and found it eye-opening and informative.

"I'm a mandated reporter, so this panel really helped me to become more educated on human trafficking signs that I need to look for in my classroom and school, as well as out in the public. The fact that human trafficking occurs locally in Ohio is disturbing, and I hope that OU students pay attention to this movement because it could help save a life."

A list of End Slavery Week events can be found on the group's Facebook page. The group meets every Wednesday in Bentley 306 at 6 p.m. Please contact ohioesm@gmail.com for more information.