CSUN’s Forum on Human Trafficking will take place Wednesday in the University Student Union’s Northridge Center.
Sandra Stanley, chair of the Asian American studies program, said students and professors in the CSUN community were angered after it was discovered that tenured economics professor Kenneth Ng had a website focused on sex tourism in Thailand and decided to organize the event.
“Last spring many people at CSUN were outraged by a professor’s blog called ‘The Thailand Girl Scene,’” Stanley said. “Faculty, students, as well as a number of community leaders spoke out against this blog.”
Sheena Malhotra, chair of the gender and women’s studies department, added that a number of community leaders also spoke out against Ng’s website.
“Many of us felt that this website raised concerns about larger problems related to the exploitation and trafficking of women and children in the sex tourism trade, and as educators we wanted to provide thoughtful critiques of the underlying issues,” Malhotra said.
Ng defended his website.
“First of all, Bigbabykenny.com has nothing to do with human trafficking. The site mainly consisted of posts and photographs that were completely tasteful pertaining to the Thailand girl scene and the dating scene in Thailand,” Ng said. “Again, it has nothing to do with human trafficking and sex workers and slavery.
“I believe there was a disconnect and miscommunication between the two subjects, in reference to the forum and its topic and the content on my website,” he continued. “I actually wanted to speak at the forum, but wasn’t invited.”
To address the issue, the departments of Asian American studies and gender and women’s studies organized the forum to encourage discussion on human trafficking, Stanley said. She added the event will also encourage discussions about the oppressive realities of human trafficking that affect so many in the transnational community.
“The United Nations reports that over 12 million people are trafficked worldwide for forced labor or sexual exploitation,” Stanley said. “In the U.S., California is one of primary destination states for human trafficking.”
The event will include a film, performance, interactive art and a panel of experts to encourage discussion about this practice of modern-day slavery.
Shannan Mockler, 22, political science major, said she thinks it’s great to make the campus community more aware of this issue that’s happening all across the globe.
“Modern-day slavery seems so far fetched, but it takes place all over the world today,” Mockler said.
The event was organized by the departments of Asian American studies and gender and women’s studies, with help from sponsors all across campus like the office of the provost.
“We are hoping for 200 to 250 people to come the event,” Stanley said.
Both Malhotra and Stanley said they hope the forum will serve as a catalyst for students and faculty to be not only educated about human trafficking, but to think of ways to fight against the practices of modern-day human slavery.
Mockler agreed with the sense of social responsibility on the topic.
“We’re all citizens of the world and being among some of the most fortunate, it is up to us to make a difference,” Mockler said. “I would definitely be interested in going.”