CSU, Chico News

Students to Present Human Trafficking Petition to Mayor

Date: 12-04-2009

Kathleen McPartland
Public Affairs
Janja Lalich

Trafficking of human beings is a pressing social issue, and students at California State University, Chico have organized to educate the public about the problem. The students are members of S.T.O.P. (Stop Trafficking of Persons) and have been gathering signatures for a petition to have Chico declared a “Slavery-Free Zone.” An event to present the petition with a proclamation to Chico Mayor Ann Schwab will be held Tuesday, Dec. 8, beginning at 5 p.m. in Trinity Commons (Free Speech Area).

The students and supporters will march from campus to the City Plaza to present the signed petitions to the mayor, who will walk with the group to the lighted plaza. The petitions will be presented to the mayor, and she will respond with a statement of support. The purpose of the event is to show citizen concern about this growing social problem.

Human trafficking is the sale and transport of human beings for profit. It is little known, said Janja Lalich, professor of sociology and an advisor to the group, that there are more slaves today than at any other time in history, if you include those in debt bondage. “People living in debt bondage or outright slavery can be found in fields, homes, mines, restaurants, massage parlors, strip clubs, brothels, factories and nail parlors,” said Lalich. “There are an estimated 27 million slaves worldwide and several hundred thousand in the U.S.”

California is a target destination, said Lalich, with approximately 17,000 people trafficked in and through California each year. Eighty percent of trafficking victims are women; 50 percent are children. The average cost of a slave today is $90.

S.T.O.P. is a nonprofit organization that was formed in January 2007. Information is available about trafficking and S.T.O.P. at www.csuchico.edu/stop

For more information or find out how to sign the petition, you can contact Lalich at 530-898-5542 or 530-514-3993 or one of the student leaders of S.T.O.P., Johnny Class at 760-715-7262 or Ashley Tassano at 707-343-5976.