UT's International Justice Mission (IJM) will be hosting "Freedom Initiative Week" at the I-House this week in order to raise awareness about modern slavery.
"IJM is an international organization that works to combat modern slavery and other forms of violent oppression," IJM co-president Rachel Naramore said. "IJM investigates cases and pressures the existing justice systems within countries to act on behalf of the victims and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice."
From Monday to Thursday, IJM will host a documentary screening at 5 p.m. and a speaker at 7 p.m. Tonight's documentary is "Born into Brothels," and the speaker is Kelly Wyatt, founder of Cry for Justice, a safe-house and aftercare organization for human trafficking victims in Knoxville.
The other speakers include James Kofi Annan, survivor of slavery in the commercial fishing industry in Ghana; Jaclyn Lesch, International Justice Mission's director of Student Ministries; and Jonathan Scoonover, a program officer for Equitas.
There is no cost for any of the events.
Sarah Moog, freshman in communications and the treasurer of UT's IJM chapter became involved with this group because of her passion for victims of human trafficking.
"I am extremely passionate about IJM and the services it provides internationally and within our chapter, specifically because I care about sex-trafficking and I just have a heart for the souls that are trapped within such a terrible business," Moog said.
IJM's main goal for this week is to inform UT students about the importance of this issue and to provide ways for students to get involved in this mission.
"The U.S. Department of State estimates that there are still 27 million slaves in the world today," Naramore said. "It's a huge human rights problem, but so many people don't know about it, which I think is part of the reason it's still so pervasive. There's a limit to what can be done to stop it when most people don't know that there's a problem that needs fixing."
Naramore also wants students to learn about the harmful effects that apathy to this issue can have.
"A lot of commercially available coffee and cocoa is grown and harvested by slaves," Naramore said. "Coming to this event can help make students more conscious of where they buy their goods so that they can avoid unwittingly contributing to the perpetuation of slavery."
With the money raised from "Freedom Initiative Week" through donations, IJM hopes to expand its community involvement and increase its resources.
The organization is also planning a fundraising banquet in November co-sponsored with the Rotaract club.
"I guess I don't understand how anyone couldn't be passionate about this issue," Naramore said. "It seems like the natural position. Most of us here have so much and take the ability to decide what we want to do with our lives for granted and forget that a lot of people don't have that simply by virtue of where they were born. It's hard not to be outraged."