By Rachel Smith | Reporter
Baylor International Justice Mission students participated in the END IT Movement Thursday by wearing a red “X” on their hands to spread awareness about human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
International Justice Mission is an organization that works to rescue victims, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors and strengthen justice systems to stop violence before it begins in order to protect the poor from violence in the developing world.
Grand Prairie junior Sarah McWilliam decided to get involved with the organization after hearing International Justice Mission founder Gary Haugen speak in Chapel.
“I think a lot of people don’t know that we actually have millions of slaves in the world today,” McWilliam said. “This is an injustice that can be stopped, so we should use our voices to speak up for those who have had their voices taken.”
The International Justice Mission website defines slavery as “the use of lies or violence to force another person to work for little or no pay.” Slavery is illegal in every nation but still occurs in 167 countries, according the END IT Movement website.
Salem, Ore., senior Omar Mosqueda, the president of International Justice Mission at Baylor, said the organization is focusing on freedom.
“Thursday, we just encouraged all our family and friends to mark an “X” on their hands to shine a light on slavery,” Mosqueda said. “I’m very privileged to get an education and get the justices I have. Even if I can’t donate, even just raising awareness on campus so someone who can make those donations would make a lot of difference.”
Mosqueda got involved with International Justice Mission his sophomore year at Baylor after hearing attorneyRobert Callahan, speak about using his law degree as a criminal defense lawyer and later with International Justice Mission to combat modern-day slavery. Callahan will speak again tonight at 6:15 p.m. in the Fentress Room of the Bill Daniel Student Center.
“I want to make the conversation a more common subject that we talk about on campus,” Mosqueda said. “I always thought of it as a third-world-country problem, but it happens in the United States and a lot in Texas.”
Mosqueda said Waco is a hub for human trafficking because of its location between cities such as Dallas, Austin and Houston.
“We’re right in the center of it all,” Mosqueda said. “If we’re able to learn more about the subject, we can do more to change this- if not on a global scale, at least in Waco.”
More than 45 million people are currently trapped in slavery, which is equivalent to five times the population of New York City, Bangkok or London, according to the International Justice Mission website. McWilliam said her main motivation for participating with International Justice Mission is its fight against sex trafficking of women and both male and female children.
“It’s one of the worst things that can happen today,” McWilliam said. “As a woman and someone who wants to have children, I feel like it’s my duty to speak out against injustices. I have freedom over my body, and I want to fight for others to have freedom over theirs, too.”
The International Justice Mission global team consists of lawyers, investigators, social workers, community activists and other professionals working in 17 field offices. McWilliam said she hopes college students will later use their knowledge in fields such as medicine, business and law to contribute to the fight against human trafficking.
“I hope that Baylor students use their education here to go into the workforce and use that,” McWilliam said.
Students interested in participating in Baylor International Justice Mission can contact Mosqueda or attend Stand for Freedom, an event the organization will host April 6 and 7 on Fountain Mall to promote awareness of modern-day slavery.