Activists: Human Trafficking is an issue in Lincoln

Human trafficking is a threat to men and women around the world. What most people don’t realize is that it is also a threat in Lincoln.

According to I’ve Got A Name, an organization that works to prevent human trafficking, there are currently 293,000 children in America that have been deemed at risk of becoming sex trafficking victims. As many as 2.8 million children live on the streets. One out of every three will be lured into prostitution within 48 hours of leaving home. Some turn to it as a way of survival.

Because of the volume of homeless people, human trafficking is an issue in Lincoln, Neb. as well, activists said.

NUSAMS, Nebraska University Students Against Modern Day Slavery, is a UNL student-lead club that works to raise awareness of human trafficking in Lincoln.

“About five years ago I was teaching a class on cause-related marketing and advertising and we did a unit on human trafficking,” UNL faculty advisor of NUSAMS, Sriyani Tidball, said. “Students got very passionate and committed to the cause and they wanted to start a movement, so they created NUSAMS.”

The student members promote awareness of human trafficking by conducting educational activities for students to participate in and arranging guest speakers to come to campus. Members of NUSAMS also plan and promote prevention activities.

NUSAMS members are currently working on “Bras for Cause.” From now until Dec. 9, students are asking UNL faculty and students to donate new or gently used bras. This donation drive is to provide women who have been sex-trafficked in Africa, Brazil and Mexico a way to make a living. The bras will be donated to these women, who can sell them for money.

The bras are being collected in decorative, gift-wrapped boxes located throughout campus. Members delivered a box to each greek house on campus as well.

“It’s a really great opportunity to be a member of NUSAMS,” UNL student Abby Cleary said. “We plan fundraisers and put on movies and guest speakers to help raise awareness of human trafficking.”

NUSAMS meets the first and last Wednesday of every month in room 15 in Andersen Hall at 4 p.m. The meetings usually last an hour. Tidball encourages all students to join the club, or at least, follow the club’s Facebook page and attend events when possible.

Apart from UNL, members of the Lincoln community are combating this issue as well.

I’ve Got a Name, started by UNL Senior Associate Athletic Director Bob Burton, is an organization committed to providing awareness to the public regarding child sexual exploitation and sex trafficking.

“We are a resource,” Burton said. “Our job is to prevent, rescue and restore.”

Burton hired a full-time outreach director to help him educate the people of Lincoln on human sex trafficking. Burton and his outreach director, Nikki Siegel, run two girls clubs, separated by ages, for girls who have been sex trafficking victims to use for support.

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