WHY

Before last semester here at Michigan State I had never considered human trafficking to be a large issue in the United States, let alone an issue at all.  I assumed, as the majority of people do, that sex trafficking only occurred in shady brothels and dirty cities located far, far away in third world countries I would never have to worry about or come in contact with.  Sure, I’d seen the movie Taken and received a fair amount of Amber Alerts about local abductions and missing kids, but I would never have assumed a kid from Michigan might be thrown into sex slavery so close to home.  I became very interested in this once I was exposed to videos and read stories from survivors of trafficking and ended up focusing my final paper for my Peace & Justice Studies class on the subject.  I focused my research on both trafficking of American citizens out of the U.S. and the trafficking of non-Americans into the U.S.  I looked into a lot of small NGO’s and non-profits that work to prevent trafficking, raise awareness, and aid in helping victims once they escape the trafficking industry.  I also researched current laws in the United States Justice System having to do with anti-sex trafficking and the punishment of traffickers.  Although I finished with a 14 page paper by the end, there were still so many issues i hadn’t been able to look into or research in-depth. So, that brings me to now; as soon as I heard about this common book assignment I knew i wanted to focus on trafficking.  However, instead of taking my research outside of the U.S. this time I wanted to bring things closer to home.  I have definitely heard about the existence of sex trafficking in Michigan and the Midwest but haven’t had time to look very closely into it.  I want to focus my common book on not only sex/human trafficking in the Midwest but also the societal views and interpretations of sex trafficking.  Many people, especially on MSU’s campus, make assumptions about sex trafficking being all about willing prostitution or just simply don’t know what it is when it’s mentioned.  I plan on relating readings and discussions from class pertaining to trafficking, patriarchy, etc. to my personal research and findings on the American sex trafficking industry.  I don’t know where my common book travels will lead me but I hope to inform myself and others about this secret world that lurks within our very neighborhoods.

Lauren

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