Cedarville Events to Educate About Realities of Sex Trafficking

by Public Relations Office

Cedarville, Ohio—In the weeks following the 2004 tsunami, hospital and shelter workers in the disaster zones noticed a disturbing trend. Orphaned children were disappearing. Many child welfare advocates fear that the orphans were abducted to work in the sex tourism industry — an industry which, according to World Vision, currently enslaves an estimated 2 million children. The Salvation Army`s Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking (IAST) Web site (www.iast.net) explains that the sexual trafficking of women and children is one of the most widespread and destructive kinds of slavery in the world today. Each year millions are lured or kidnapped into the industry and forced into lives of prostitution or other sexual exploitation. "Children as young as eight and nine can be found in brothels around the world, including those within the United States," says the site. In April, Cedarville University will host several events in hopes of educating the public about the plight of those trapped in the sex tourism and trafficking industry. On Thursday, April 14 at 6 p.m., Cedarville`s Women of Vision chapter will welcome domestic social policy expert Dr. Charmaine Yoest as guest speaker for their annual Soup for the Soul event. A political analyst, Yoest has testified before Congress and has appeared on all major network and cable outlets to speak on family and women`s issues. She currently serves as director of the Family, Gender, and Tenure Project in the University of Virginia Department of Politics. Yoest is expected to discuss a recent law which makes it illegal for Americans to participate in sex tourism activities abroad. Dr. Susan Warner, coordinator of the Soup for the Soul event, explained that arresting those who patronize the industry is just one way to intervene. "Another way to handle this," she shared, "is to alleviate poverty in Third World countries, since extreme poverty is one of the reasons why children are sold into this sexual slavery." Warner suggested that child sponsorship, which is available through Women of Vision, could be a tool to save children from sex trafficking. Child sponsorship opportunities will be discussed further at Soup for the Soul. Soup for the Soul will also offer a smorgasbord featuring more than 20 varieties of homemade soups donated by faculty and staff. Tickets for the evening`s meal and presentation are $5 for students and $10 for adults and can be purchased at the event (in the Stevens Student Center Event Rooms) or by calling 1-800-860-7625. For more information, contact Warner at 937-766-7632 or Dr. Deb Haffey at 937-766-7962. On Tuesday, April 19, the Cedarville social work program will present the seminar "Innocence Lost: A Glimpse into the World of Child Sex Tourism" at 7 p.m. in the Dixon Ministry Center`s Recital Hall. "We want those in attendance to learn that child sex tourism is not only a global problem but also a local issue affecting millions of children and teenagers," explained Anna Mied, a social work major who is coordinating the seminar. "We are also attempting to show the community that each individual can help make a change to combat this destructive lifestyle." The event will seek to raise funds for the Salvation Army`s Initiative Against Sex Trafficking. The guest speaker is Rhoda Kershaw, who, at age 18, was drugged and kidnapped into the Japanese sex trade industry. Kershaw will share about her experience, her escape, and her passion to protect others from the nightmare conditions she endured. Social work students will offer informative presentations, and Cedarville`s gospel choir will provide music. "Innocence Lost" is free and open to the public. For more information, call Mied at 937-766-6196. -30-