On Monday, a group of Colorado State University students and staff members were addressed by Jeremey Vallerand, President and CEO of Freedom International, to discuss his work of fighting human trafficking.
Vallerand was invited to speak by the College of Business, and the talk was sponsored by the CSU Ethics Colloquium, Richardson Foundation and the College of Business.
“It’s one of those issues that unites us regardless of your background, your politics, your religion,” Vallerand said.
According to Vallerand, human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal enterprise. Vallerand said that in Seattle alone 6,847 men search to buy sex online in a 24-hour period.
He attributes much of this growth to an increasing demand. He theorized much of this demand is related to the increase of violence displayed in pornography; 88 percent on online pornography displays violence towards women. Vallerand explains that pornography can desensitize people and separates them from the realities of sex trafficking.
“Human trafficking is one of those issues where you would all say, ‘Yeah, we are not on board with sexual exploitation of woman and children,’ and yet, there’s this disconnect that every day thousands and thousands of men in every city are purchasing,” Vallerand said.
Vallerand said he was first exposed to human trafficking on a trip to India. He visited one of the largest red light districts, urban areas concentrated with prostitution and sex-oriented businesses, in the world. There were rough 50,000 sexually exploited women and children per six square blocks. Vallenrand said he knew he had to become involved with the issue after he visited a safe house where rescued women and children were brought.
Vallerand first started raising money for rescued sex-trafficking victims by creating a fundraiser involving rock climbing called Climb for Captives. This fundraising effort grew and was able to raise $750,000 in five years.
Vallerand also started a non-profit organization called Rescue: Freedom International that focuses on the rescue and restoration of human trafficking victims. This organization has been able to work with a number of businesses to help raise money for this cause.
Since Vallerand was speaking to business students and faculty, he encouraged them to consider philanthropy as part of their career. Vallerand said this is a time where it is now profitable for businesses to be involved with philanthropy, and that some companies are starting to compensate employees for volunteering.
Vallenrand also said that few people who volunteer use their professional skills while helping out. He explained if people really want to make an impact for a cause, they should help with something they are talented at. Vallerand said it is important for people to put their skills into a cause and to help issues like human trafficking.
“Every single one of you is sitting on passions, skills, and interests and will be going into sectors where many of you will be incentivized by your employers to give back,” Vallerand said. “Meanwhile, the nonprofit industry is struggling to innovate and is struggling to find ways to take on creative problems.”
Collegian reporter Julia Currier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @juliadawn965.