Local organizations are teaming up to start the conversation about human trafficking and what can be done to fight it.
According to the US Department of Justice, Kansas is an originating state for human trafficking.
Wichita State University’s Center for Combating Human Trafficking (CCHT), Real Men Real Heroes and other community groups are set to host “Men Rising: Courageous Conversations to Restore our Community.”
“Ninety-nine percent of the time, men are seen as the problem in human trafficking,” explained Robert Roswurm, with WSU’s CCHT. “They are viewed as the buyers of sex, the Johns or the traffickers themselves.”
Tonight’s event is an opportunity to explore how men can be a solution to the issue.
“If we can begin to address the laughing at the dirty joke in the locker room, or saying something about the inappropriate pictures on the wall in the men’s restroom at the restaurant,” shared Roswurm.
The event includes five speakers:
- Robert Roswurm – Center for Combating Human Trafficking
- Councilman Brandon Johnson – Wichita City Council
- Kyle Ellison – Real Men Real Heroes
- Derek Schmidt – Kansas Attorney General
- Lamont Anderson- One Love Unified Foundation
Organizers said each speaker will focus on simple concepts that can start combating the issue of trafficking at a “systemic foundational level.”
Kyle Ellison, executive director of Real Men Real Heroes, said it “made sense” that his organization be part of the conversation.
Real Men Real Heroes focuses on empowering Wichita youth to build stronger communities.
“A number of studies show that mentoring the demographic that we serve helps prevent them getting involved in human trafficking,” Ellison said.
According to experts, kids who don’t feel like they belong or don’t have a good living situation are easy targets in the human trafficking world.
Ellison said he believes if educating the youth about the issue can prevent them from going into the human trafficking lifestyle and crime.
“Without question, this one conference will not solve it,” said Ellison. “But without question, we hope this would be the catalyst to get the different community members that come out to take that next step with us and to take a leap to make a difference.”
Ellison and Roswurm encourage the public to attend tonight’s event, saying it takes a whole community to find solutions and fight human trafficking.
Tonight’s event is from 7-10 p.m. at WSU’s Campus Activites Center (CAC). More information can be found online.
To learn how the Kansas Attorney General’s office is fighting against human trafficking, visit Ag.ks.gov.