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Surviving Slavery: Sex Trafficking in South Florida

This collaborative faculty research initiative will focus on the problem of sex trafficking and more specifically the gap in outreach efforts to victims by organizations and government agencies. The inspiration for the initiative was the recent “Out of Bondage: Combating Sex Trafficking in South Florida” symposium, which was comprised of speakers from the Florida State Legislature, the Federal and State Attorney’s Office, and Florida State Department of Children and Families, with one panel member from a survivor group. During the Q&A sessions, the repeated question from the audience was, “How can we help?”

The goal of this research cluster is to position FAU, with its unique population of working-class and immigrant students, as a place where the outreach programs of such organizations can not only be more effective in reaching victims of this crime, but also allow communities targeted by sex traffickers to speak back to the organizations helping survivors about their unique needs. The research of Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies faculty associates, with its unique focus on women, gender, and sexuality, means that FAU faculty are especially qualified to work as mediators who can help frame a productive exchange between local LGBTQ and ethnic minority communities and the organizations spearheading efforts to combat sex trafficking in Palm Beach County.


This initiative will be led and administered by Elena Machado (English), Josephine Beoku-Betts (Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies),  Jane Caputi Betts (Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies), Mark Harvey (Sociology), Talitha Leflouria (History), Bernadette Lange (Nursing), and Sika Dagbovie-Mullins (English). Funding is made possible through the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Advisory Board.

 Any faculty or students interested in participating in one or both of these research groups should contact the principal investigators mentioned above. 

Upcoming Events  

Spring 2015: "Bystander Intervention and Creative Activism Workshop"

DATE: January 15-16, 2015 from 4-6:30 pm each day.


PURPOSE: To provide student leaders with the necessary tools to become ethical bystanders and engage in creative activism to develop "Ending Trafficking" projects at FAU


Friday, January 23, 2015: Spring "Building Bridges" Activism Symposium  

 The goal of this symposium is to provide student leaders with the necessary and practical tools to become ethical bystanders and engage in creative activism. A more formal invitation will be sent out in January with the time and location, but for now, please save the date!

 Activities planned for the afternoon event will include:

  • Food reception
  • Bystander Intervention Workshop
  • LEAD Leadership-Development Exercise
  • Creative Leadership Musical Performance/Workshop
  • Panel Presentation “What the State is Doing to End Sex Trafficking and Sexual Abuse in South Florida”
  • Creative Leadership Theater Performance/Workshop
  • OURI Undergraduate Research Projects: Leadership and Activism

The administrative and student leadership that is collaborating to make this a really fun, productive, and hands-on event is comprised of:

  • Raquel Cabral -- Director of Owls Care Health Promotion
  • Ana Maria Bedoya -- President of UNICEF-FAU
  • Samantha Novaton -- President of The F-Word: FAU Feminists
  • Britni Hiatt -- VP of the Feminist Graduate Student Association (FGSA), RA for "Ending Sex-Trafficking in South Florida" 2014-2015 faculty research initiative
  • Arely Lozano-Baugh -- President of FGSA, RA for "Ending Sex-Trafficking in South Florida" 2014-2015 faculty research initiative
  • Dr. Elena Machado -- Chair of the "Ending Sex-Trafficking in South Florida" Collaborative Research Initiative





Informational Resources

  • Take the interactive survey: “How many slaves do you have?” 
  • Cyber Civil Rights is a website on combating revenge porn, which is often used by sex traffickers to coerce victims to stay. 
  • View the Government Fact Sheet about Human Trafficking. 
  • Read the Huffington Post article, Sex Slavery A $99-Billion Industry, here.
  • Read the NY Times article, The Price of a Sex-Slave Rescue Fantasy, here.
  • Read The Feminist Wire article, 13 Challenges Legislators Underestimate when Fighting Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Minors, here
  • Prevent Human Trafficking is the second anti-trafficking organization in the US and the first organization started with the goal of examining, rather than trying to ameliorate the effects of human trafficking. 
  • Read the LGBTQ Nation article, Transgender Woman Held Captive Two Years, Claims She Was Kept As Sex Slave, here.

Building Bridges Students Leadership Workshop Materials

  • Ending Sex Trafficking PowerPoint by Arely Lozano-Baugh and Britni Hiatt, Collaborative Research Grant Research Assistants
  • View the Building Bridges Students Leadership Workshop brochure here
  • View the questions provided to the Moderators of this workshop here

FAU Student-led Projects

  • Domestic Violence and Sex Trafficking Awareness Forum organized by Khristlyn Bellamy, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. My body is a temple flyer

Every year 300,000 American children are lured into sex trade and 25% of women will experience an abusive relationship. “My Body Is A Temple” was a forum held to address the issues of domestic violence and sex slavery both on campus and in our local communities. The event took place on October 23, 2014 at 7pm in Nations Multipurpose Room. Approximately 75 people were in attendance. Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated co-sponsored with Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated to make the event possible.

The forum began with spoken word pieces from three poets: Kristopher Ledford, Sherrika Mitchell, and Mike McCain. Immediately following the poetry, Dr. Katariina Rosenblatt, author of Stolen, shared her story of escape from sexual exploitation. After surviving several trafficking rings, abusive relationships, and rape Dr. Rosenblatt vowed to dedicate her life to rescuing other victims of sex slavery. Rosenblatt founded There is H.O.P.E for Me to accomplish these goals. The event was co-sponsored with Delta Sigma Theta Inc. 

The event concluded with a health fair and the signing of a “vow board.” Students were encouraged to visit the Breast Cancer Awareness and Owls Care tables to gain more information on the diseases that plague our campus. 



 Last Modified 12/15/14