The Daily Gamecock

CAST holds silent auction, panel for sex trafficking awareness

Carolina Against Sex Trafficking collaborates with Rahab's Rope to inform students about global issue

Carolina Against Sex Trafficking held a panel in the Capstone Conference Room on Tuesday evening in which representatives from Rahab's Rope, a nonprofit organization located in Gainesville, Ga., spoke about human trafficking and prostitution in India.

 The organization, which was founded in 2004, helps women who are able to leave the life of prostitution and prepares them to re-enter society.

CAST President Amy Dewitt, as well as other volunteers, hoped to raise awareness about the issue.

Dewitt and USC graduate Amie Molnar, a CAST volunteer, went to India on a mission trip and helped some of these women transition back into society.

"It's an undercover topic," Molnar said, "People don't realize how big the problem really is."

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, human trafficking is the second most profitable criminal industry in the world. India has the most accounts of human trafficking — about 200 women and children in India are sold into prostitution a day. Atlanta is the number one city in the U.S. for child prostitution. Children, as young as 7, are often sold to mercenaries and forced to work in brothels. These victims contract diseases, are forced to endure many abortions and can feel as if they have no way out. Rahab's Rope hopes to change this.

The organization hopes that by educating these women, the women will be able to avoid a life of prostitution and poverty.

"With an issue like this, the first step is raising awareness," Dewitt said. "People are surprised to know that there are more slaves now than ever. It gets to a point where you can't not do something."

Rahab's Rope has centers located in Bangalore, Gao and Mumbai where they have vocational training for the women. With this training, these women are given certificates that they can use to get a job and escape the risk of being targeted for sex trafficking. Rahab's Rope has opened preschools and clinics to educate the women about their health and relationship-building skills.

At the end of the discussion, there was a silent auction and students were able to purchase pieces of jewelry, handbags and other things made in India. CAST was able to get artists from the university as well as local artists to donate their artwork for the auction. All proceeds went directly to Rahab's Rope and their mission. There was also a station where students could write letters or sign a card that would go to the women.

Third-year biology student Kyle Murdock donated a piece of artwork for the cause.

"I'm in the Christian fraternity and I thought it would be really nice to help out," Murdock said. "Hopefully the money is used to help one of these girls."

The group is in the process of becoming a non-governmental organization in India so that they can make more connections and open a store where the women can sell the items they create and recruit more women.

Jillian Hensley, Rahab's Rope director of recruiting and mobilization, hopes that the event will make people want to become involved. She gave students three ways to become involved with the organization: have an event and raise money, buy a piece that has been handcrafted by a woman in India or take a trip to India and volunteer at one of the centers.