“It’s really easy to own a human being right now,” said Kique Bazan, associate director of USF University Ministry and co-founder of the Not For Sale club. Bazan stated that, although drugs are still the most profitable form of trafficking, human trafficking is the least risky and tied with guns as the second most common form of trafficking in the world.
The “Trafficking of Persons Report,” released by the U.S. government in 2007, cites the International Labor Organization’s estimate that 12.3 million people are enslaved in the world. This slavery ranges from forced manual labor to sexual servitude to child soldiers. Of those trafficked across national borders, 50 percent are minors and 80 percent are women.
Bazan began work in 2007 with members of the USF community (specifically students in the Erasmus living and learning community) to combat the wide variety of human trafficking that occurs in the United States and San Francisco. Thus, the “Not For Sale” club was created as an on campus activism program for students and USF community members.
Bazan described the club as a group of people dedicated to social justice who want to do more than just raise awareness about the cause. Members of Not For Sale, he says, “mobilize and engage” the community because “raising awareness is not enough.” The club is part of a larger Not For Sale Campaign that was originally inspired by USF Professor David Batstone’s book Not For Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It. The club, along with its parent campaign, relies on the diversity of skills amongst its members to meet the needs of the cause. Bazan ensures that any talent or ability can be applied to activism.
One of the biggest concerns of the club is conveying to the public how slavery has changed. “You don’t see slaves in shackles anymore; the shackles are in their mind,” Bazan explained. According to the 2007 “Trafficking of Persons Report,” most human trafficking and involuntary servitude involve children or young women being tricked into traveling to foreign countries for work and the promise of better pay. Upon arrival in the foreign country, the victims are stripped of their passports and belongings by their new employers and paid no money to perform sexual duties or manual labor. Often, children are sold into the industry at a very young age and have no concept of running away or seeking help. Some victims are physically restrained from leaving their employer or abuser, while language barriers and poverty restrain others.
Last summer, three USF students participated in an investigative program about human trafficking. The students attended a two-week training academy in San Francisco and then traveled overseas to investigate and document cases of human trafficking and involuntary servitude in foreign countries. Now, the Not For Sale club is trying to get even more people involved in the cause, creating a scholarship for USF students who want to do social research about the modern slave trade. The scholarship is part of the senior gift and money is currently being raised for it. Bazan says students with financial need and significant interest in social justice should consider applying. If enough money is raised, the scholarship will cover the cost of attending the two-week academy as well as part of the student’s trip overseas to research the patterns of human trafficking in foreign countries. Not all students involved are required to go overseas, however. Many students involved in Not For Sale are doing work right here in San Francisco.
The application process for the scholarship has not been solidified yet, but any interested students should contact University Ministry.
The Not For Sale club meets every Tuesday at 7:15pm in UC 417.