Event looks to spread awareness of human trafficking

Survivor Cali Simek explains what people can do to fight against human trafficking at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society on Saturday. (Fabien Lafontant/SFMN)
Survivor Cali Simek explains what people can do to fight against human trafficking at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society on Saturday. (Fabien Lafontant/SFMN)

Last weekend, survivors took the stage to share their stories about human trafficking, an event inspired by the selection of Miami as the host for the Super Bowl next year.

According to the McCain Institute at Arizona State University, as many as 10,000 people become victims in the city hosting the big game, a spike caused by the influx of tourists and businesses coming into the area.

Prior to the start of the Saturday event, Lindsay Lawrence – part of the Junior League of Fort Lauderdale, which organized the event – provided a preview of the speakers.

“We have various speakers coming to the event,” she said. “These speakers are different individuals who represent different puzzle pieces in the fight to end human trafficking.”

According to its website, the group, which started in 1937, is an organization of women that promotes volunteer work, builds women’s potential, and helps the community.

At the event, which took place at the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society, there were various tables set up from organizations that help combat human trafficking.

Survivor Cali Simek encouraged people to speak up.

“Prevention starts with you,” she said to the crowd. “There is a burden on the public to protect the public. Imagine this, if all of us called the Human Trafficking Hotline and it happened to be on the same person, that person is now saved because you took five extra minutes.”

Jumorrow Johnson, who works with victims, said human trafficking can impact anybody because it is driven by two things.

“Exploitation and profit,” she said. “Demand drives trafficking. It’s about exploiting someone with the end goal to profit off of them.”

Harold Pryor, who is a candidate for state attorney, said that both personal and professional experiences inspired him to attend.

“I hope to gain information to learn how I can be an ally in this fight,” he said. “I hope to understand how it’s affecting our women and young girls more importantly. I hope to figure out how myself as a man, as a prosecutor, as a candidate for state attorney of Broward County, how I can help going forward in combating against this epidemic.”

One of the organizations represented at the event was the Child Rescue Coalition, a nonprofit technology company that helps law enforcement all over the world detect, track and arrest those trading child pornography. Its director of business development, Alex Ortiz, talked about how his company works.

“When we look at a map, globally, of where the problem exists, we see that 50 to 100 million active leads of trading is occurring every single day, just in the networks that we are currently monitoring in the world,” he said. “Globally our impact has been that over 11,900 predators have been arrested directly related to the technology and close to 2,800 children have been rescued.”

Fabien Lafontant is a broadcast media student currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree. He is very passionate about sports and hopes to work in sports media.