Each year an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 human beings are bought, sold, or forced across the world’s borders. The U.S. government estimates that 50,000 women and children are trafficked each year into the United States.
LA is one of the top three points of entry into the country for victims of slavery and trafficking. About 10,000 women are held in underground brothels in LA. This does not include, however, the thousands of women and children being forced into domestic work and sweatshops.
Wanda Pathomrit, resident advisor, had heard about Kenneth Ng’s website promoting sex tourism in Thailand and wanted to do something about it.
“I was devastated by this news to learn that an educator is promoting degrading practices objectifying women,” said Pathomrit.
“Women within the sex tourism industry are predominately the victims of human trafficking — they are forced to enter into the trade of prostitution due to the limited choices to survive.”
In order to raise awareness about human trafficking, Pathomrit and CSUN’s Resident Advisor’s put together a fashion show entitled “The S.E.C.R.E.T. Project.”
The acronym “S.E.C.R.E.T” stands for “Students Empowering Communities’ Rights Ending Trafficking” of sex and labor. The event took place on Friday, April 30 in the multi-purpose room of the new campus housing community center.
The evening started off with two spoken word artists, Mark Chase and Diana Bui. Each spoke about the terror of human trafficking and the affects it can cause on women.
Chase’s poem entitled “He Will Probably Keep Going” repeated the line “and he’ll probably keep going” and talked about how women don’t find themselves beautiful because of what they have gone through and the way they are treated.
Chase says in his poem, “I hope you can hear me, because I think you’re beautiful.”
The first walk down the lit “runway” was the inequality walk. It represented how the women are treated unequally and mistreated because they don’t have government papers. The next walk was titled the “militarism walk.”
“This walk focuses on how military presence in different countries increases human trafficking. The runway features five women from different ethnic backgrounds,” said Pathomrit.
Then there was the “mail order bride” walk. Mail order brides are shipped off to single American men who buy them over the Internet from far away countries. This walk featured a video of a man ordering a bride off the Internet, projected on a screen on the wall.
This is a legal form of trafficking women from third world countries, said Pathomrit.
“Every time he clicks the mouse, a woman walks out onto the runway with a price on her body and description about her characteristics.”
The women were wrapped in plastic to show that they were being shipped and each had their own barcode. Once they got to the end of the runway, they ripped the plastic off, unveiling signs that said things such as “money can’t buy my love” and “we are afflicted by an epidemic of human violence.”
Lastly there was the “violence walk” in which the RAs donned bruises and cuts in order to portray the violence that women go through. At the end, audience members were given letters from real women who suffered and survived human trafficking. Each letter also gave information on how to support the cause.
The fashion show was intended to not only raise awareness about human trafficking, but was an “active oppression reduction program,” said the event’s invite.
“I want people to see that human trafficking affects all types of people all over the world, including the United States,” said Nicki Viso, R.A.
“Taking advantage of people like that is just plain heartless.”
Pathmorit had a similar attitude towards what she wanted the residents to take away from the show.
“I want students to be aware about the issue of human trafficking affecting our society. I want students to realize that when you are not aware, we are perpetuating the oppression. I want students to leave my program feeling empowered by their knowledge,” she said.
Pathmorit had wanted to do this kind of a program before but it never worked out until now.
“I felt it was a perfect opportunity to expose the event to my residents… The dorm was an appropriate place to present my program in order to reach out to new incoming young freshmen students who represent the future of our generation,” she said.
“I wanted to make a personal impact to empower myself and the student body to stand for equality.”