Event sheds light on local, global sex trafficking


The event featured poetry raps, musical performances and inspirational speech. Musical artist Tate Kirgiss, who is an official artist partner of Songs Against Slavery, was the headliner of the concert and performed both original and cover songs.

Many songs were written by Songs Against Slavery co-founder Grace Theisen’s band.

“One of the biggest things of these concerts for us is for awareness to be raised and for people’s hearts to be enlightened,” Theisen said.

Co-founder and elementary education senior Lauren Lancaster said the group hosted this concert to eliminate common myths about sex trafficking and the victims.

“We often get ideas from the movies and media, like the movie ‘Taken,’” Lancaster said. “We think that is what it looks like and often times it looks really different in the US.”

The group partnered with Project Liberty, a task force geared toward eliminating human trafficking worldwide.

Saundra Lawson, founder and executive director of Project Liberty , said some cases of sex trafficking are kidnapping cases. However, most sex trafficking situations begin with the luring in of young girls with low self-esteem via the Internet.

“Many (girls) are looking for attention, and a trafficker will come along and give them the attention they are lacking by complimenting them,” Lawson said. “They may have low self-esteem and may not have the attention at home that they need. (The traffickers) gain their confidence and trust and then turn on them.”

Lawson said there are sex trafficking cases in every county in Michigan. Songs Against Slavery tries to work with as many cities as possible to increase the awareness of sex trafficking and to help fund local organizations fighting for the same cause. The group is looking to expand worldwide.

The group held various events on campus this week to increase students’ awareness of sex trafficking in East Lansing. It also put up a prayer tent by the rock on Farm Lane where guests could listen to stories of survivors of sex trafficking.

Psychology freshman Gabriella Abalo attended because she wanted to learn more.

Songs Against Slavery performs concerts all over Michigan, each time working with a new local sex trafficking prevention organization. The nonprofit dedicates 80 percent of its profits to these organizations.

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