By Laura Precourt – lrprecourt@csbsju.edu
Since 2011, over 200 prostitutes have been identified by law enforcement in St. Cloud and over 80 percent of these women are trafficked.
This week on-campus groups including International and Intercultural Student Services (IISS), CSB/SJU campus ministries, Institue for Womens’ Leadership (IWL),  Alpha Kappa Sigma Service (AKS) Sorority, Students for Life and The Knights of Columbus have joined together to sponsor events that examine the causes and effects of sex trafficking.

Sex trafficking is the involuntary sale of a person’s body. Typically, young women are trafficked around the age of 12. Before being trafficked, they are often victims of abuse or neglect. These women are then abused further, this time by their traffickers.
CSB junior Skylar Peyton, CSB Campus Ministry Assistant Director, Carley Castellanos and sophomore Maddie Krummel were key members on the committee that oversaw planning the sex trafficking awareness events on campus. Peyton works in a position at CSB Campus Ministry that focuses on social justice and spiritually. Peyton described some of the events that make this week special, specifically, the new events.
For the awareness week AKS will do a handprint campaign. However, unlike previous years, they will take photocopies of the handprints and send a video to Minnesota State Representatives.
“This will be a way for our Representatives to know that CSB/SJU cares about this issue,” Peyton said. “Even if you do not participate in the handprint campaign, you will hear people tabling or see the handprints and make the connection to sex trafficking.”
Peyton is excited about the first-ever poetry night at The Local Blend. At this event, CSB/SJU students and staff will share their poetry about sex trafficking.
Peyton also described the opportunity for students to participate in an urban plunge about sex trafficking. This year, from 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m on April 1. a group of students will go to Heartland Girl’s Ranch, a center that focuses on equine therapy as a means of encouraging women to get out of sex trafficking rings.
Krummel co-led this year’s Alternative Break Experience to Breaking Free. Breaking Free is an organization in St. Paul that promotes rehabilitation programs for trafficked women. Breaking Free was found and led by women who were trafficked and provides victims of trafficking a place to live as well as a safe space to tell their stories.
“If you’re not directly involved in that life it’s very easy to not see it or think that it does not affect you,” Krummel said. “The reality is that if there is a woman without a safe place to live and prosper, there is a duty to her, and ourselves, to right those wrongs.”
Peyton and Krummel both say pornography is connected to the trafficking industry. Krummel draws attention to pornography’s damaging effects.
“A lot of people don’t make the connection between sex trafficking, masculinity and pornography, but they are all inherently connected,” Krummel said.
Male students say it is important to recognize that an overwhelming majority of women who are seen in pornography are women who are being trafficked and additionally, that pornography leads to the objectification of women, which is why trafficking exists.
Castellanos brought to light how local this issue is.
“The St. Cloud area is even considered a training ground,” Castellanos said.
She thinks this week is an important opportunity to recognize an issue that hides in plain sight and that awareness of sex trafficking and its connecting pieces needs to be addressed and combatted starting on campus.