U Count at CSU spreads awareness of human trafficking in Colorado

Nicole Towne

Slavery is believed by many to be a topic left behind in the history books, a crime that has no place in modern society. That misconception was put aside with Wednesday night’s presentation on modern-day slavery hosted by U Count at CSU.

U Count is an organization based in Fort Collins that works locally and globally to end trafficking.

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According to the International Labour Organization, it is estimated that there are between 21 and 45 million people worldwide who are currently being trafficked. It brings in an estimated $150 billion a year in profits, making it the fastest growing crime industry in the world.

“I really believe that it is the largest human rights crisis in history because even if we were going to go with that conservative number of 21 (million) that is still nearly twice as many individuals in slave like conditions as during the entire 300 years of the transatlantic slave trade,” Beth Bruno founder and director of A Face to Reframe, an organization fighting against human trafficking.

In 2015 in Colorado, 89 minors were recovered from the sex trafficking industry. This year, 97 minors to date have been recovered in Colorado. The average age of the recovered youth is between 12 and 14 years-old.

U-Count volunteer explains the impacts of human trafficking in Colorado and globally to students. (Karen Schamaun|Collegian)
U-Count volunteer explains the impacts of human trafficking in Colorado and globally to students. (Karen Schamaun|Collegian)

Bruno said human trafficking is less about being kidnapped and taken away and it generally thrives on deceit and manipulation.

“Very few are kidnapped,” Bruno said. “In fact, when I’m in front of teenagers I’m not telling them beware of white vans. I’m not as concerned about that because it’s so rare.”

According to Beth Bruno and her husband Chris Bruno, Director of Restoration Counseling, trafficking is the result of supply and demand.

“We know that there are child and slave labor in the chocolate industry,” Beth Bruno said. “We know that where coco beans are harvested in West Africa that there are farmers and traffickers who are kidnapping kids out of their villages or luring kids with these promises of good work and pay…. (Kids) are working in horrific conditions to harvest the coco beans that end up in the supply chain of companies like Hershey’s and Nestle know it. There is a law suit against them… As long as we as consumers demand a 99 cent bar of chocolate, they have no economic incentive to eradicate slave labor from their supply chain.”

This concept also applies in terms of sexual slavery.

“As long as their is the demand for paid sex, there will be a supply,” Chris Bruno said. “So we have to address this in particularly in the area of social systems and our culture at large with the over sexualization of our youth. This is a big issue.”

For Frontrange student Hannah Archer and member of U Count at CSU, being a part of the movement against human trafficking allows her to take a stand and raise awareness.

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“I think it’s important that everyone knows that they’re loved, and to have people taking advantage of others is not fair,” Archer said.

Collegian reporter Nicole Towne can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @nicole_towne21.