Human trafficking is the modern day version of slavery, commonly believed to be hidden away in third world countries, away from the law and a justifiable line between right and wrong, but junior Aubrey Gerken advocates for awareness that that’s just not true. Gerken organized and spoke at the student-run Shift Justice Conference; an event focused on ending human trafficking.
“The tagline this year was ‘Empower to Prevent’,” Gerken said. “Overall the purpose of the conference is to raise awareness about human trafficking here in Denver and all around the world.”
Gerken has been passionate about preventing human trafficking for a long time, since she was in the sixth grade to be specific.
“When I was in sixth grade, my youth pastor told me about human trafficking and I had no idea people were trafficked here in Denver,” Gerken said. “Once I knew it was happening all around me, I couldn’t just do nothing. I started to raise awareness and get involved wherever I could.”
On a bigger scale, Gerken works with the organization SHIFT whose main focus is to help people Shift from awareness to action.
“One of the biggest issues is the way that people are willing to ignore trafficking. People are not objects and they should never be sold. SHIFT educates people on the issue of human trafficking but also equips them to prevent it,” Gerken said.
Raising awareness about this cause is a major part of Gerken’s life and she has become more vigilant in being able to detect signs of trafficking.
“It’s changed the way I look at everyday situations and makes me more aware of what I buy and who I talk to.” Gerken said. “Girls are actually trafficked out of Park Meadows. Now that I know how trafficking happens I try to make others aware so that they aren’t at risk to be trafficked.”
To assist in being able to spot human trafficking Gerken has five tips of what to be aware of:
- There are three types of human trafficking: forced labor, sex trafficking and debt bondage
- A person does not have to be kidnapped to be trafficked. Someone can be living at home and still be trafficked every night.
- Trafficking does happen in Denver, Denver is among the top 5 most trafficked cities
- Anyone can be trafficked. Traffickers often use social media to lure victims in.
- Products you buy and businesses that you frequent can contribute to human trafficking. Be aware of where and what you’re buying.