Spreading awareness on World Day Against Trafficking

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – July 30 is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. A new organization is working to raise awareness both in the Bluegrass and around the world.

Youth Against Slavery Movement, which is headquartered in New York City, is launching its effort in Lexington, spearhead by organizer Racha Haffar.

Friday, July 30, the group is hosting a chat on Twitter (@yasmovement) in honor of its launch. The chat will discuss what trafficking is, common misconceptions, and how to identify a victim of trafficking.

For Haffar, the co-founder of Youth Against Slavery Movement, human trafficking is a commonly misunderstood crime.

“The crime is sexual exploitation, it’s labor exploitation, it’s slavery-like practices. These slavery-like practices are what could be seen as child marriage, as domestic slavery of children who are forced to work, it’s debt bondage, it’s so many other forms,” said Haffar.

According to Haffar, human trafficking is the second-most profitable crime in the world after arms sales, totaling in about $300 billion a year. However, this only accounts for the known human trafficking cases.

“Of course another misconception is that people think human trafficking is automatically ‘traffic,’ which means transportation. And that’s something we are trying to change,” said Haffar.

Haffar, who was born and raised in Dubai and later moved to Tunisia, says the first time she encountered human trafficking was when she was looking for a nanny job at 18.

“I put my CV online and I started receiving offers from families–well, people who pretended to be families–and they wanted me to come as soon as possible. They told me they were too busy to take their communication further and told me their lawyers would be taking care of the paperwork…when I finally chose one, they didn’t want to Skype with me or anything. I became suspicious when they sent me a stock photo when I asked for a picture. That was alarming,” said Haffar.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky, Haffar has worked to build an organization comprised of a team of people all under 35. Their goal is to bring young, passionate activists together to fight against human trafficking.

Youth Against Slavery Movement has created “The Lemon Challenge,” a social media trend where activists can post a video of them tasting a lemon covered in salt–and trying not to make a face–and hashtagging “#YASMovement” to spread awareness.

The organization can be found on Instagram and Twitter: @yasmovement for more information.

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