By Scott Smith
On March 7, 2023, students and faculty met at the Shepler Ballroom for a seminar hosted by The Red Cord organization. The focus of the event was to bring awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking throughout the country and in particular, here in Southwest, Oklahoma.
The Red Cord was started in Lawton, Oklahoma, about eight years ago and is a Christian-based organization that derives its’ name from a biblical reference found in the book of Joshua, chapter 2. According to their mission statement, the Red Cord exists to join individuals and organizations within the community and surrounding communities of Lawton, OK with the end goal of wiping out the injustice of Human Trafficking.
During the presentation, Red Cord President Ahsha Morin gave an update on statistics as well as some interesting facts regarding Human Trafficking.
Morin said that Human Trafficking is the fastest growing industry in the world and equates to $151 billion dollars in revenue annually. When comparing the revenue and profit to other industries, there is more profit in human trafficking than from Wal-Mart, Amazon and Apple combined, Morin said.
Trafficking affects every country in the world as well as every state and territory in the United States.
According to statistics, there are approximately 100,000 plus children currently being trafficked in the United States alone. While ages may vary, the average age of a trafficking victim is 13 years old, but can occur at much younger. Eighty-five percent of victims are female. Trafficking happens through the means of force, fraud, or coercion, Morin said.
Some victims are trafficked for labor, but most victims that are trafficked are made to perform sex acts.
Essentially, trafficked victims are made to perform nine to ten sex acts a day, 24/7, 365 days a year. It is estimated that each trafficked victim’s value is $250,000, Morin said.
One fact that was shared during the presentation was that trafficking victims are often sold by someone they know or worse, a relative. Morin gave an example of an instance that happened right here in Lawton.
“Back during COVID, we had a mother of six that had lost her job and had no way to pay her rent. Her landlord approached her and suggested she let him sleep with her daughter who was 14 at the time.” Morin said. “That was an actual case and happened right here in Lawton.”
Morin went on to say that she had seen victims as young as two years old.
When speaking of victims, traffickers and buyers, Morin spoke bluntly, shocking the audience with a statement.
“They are walking among us.” Morin said. “You probably know a victim, you know a trafficker and you definitely know a buyer.”
Morin also spoke about the misconception that links Human Trafficking with kidnapping.
“Yes, kidnapping happens, yes it’s a bad crime, but people who are kidnapped for the specific reason of being trafficked, either for sex or labor, is one percent.” Morin said.
Marshall Sadler is a student at Cameron and has participated in a previous training with The Red Cord. He said he was very happy to have them on campus and hoped that the presentation would raise awareness to the issue of Human Trafficking. He said that he was surprised at how much information he had forgotten since his involvement with the past seminar.
“It’s always in the back of your mind, thinking about it, but to be reminded with the figures and the process, was a lot.” Sadler said. “Especially how the $150 billion has went up to $151 billion since I was here last.”
The Red Cord offers community wide training with specialized presentations and curriculum for students, teachers, law enforcement, hotel employees, healthcare professionals and community members. For more information about The Red Cord, visit their website at www.theredcord.org or phone at 405-294-2727.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 911.