“Slavery hasn’t ended; it just has a new face. Help end it once and for all.”
That was the powerful ending to Bellarmine freshman Allison Laslie’s speech about human trafficking, which took first place in Speak Up! Kentuckiana, an annual regional contest that this year was held April 23 in Hilary’s on Bellarmine’s campus. Ten students competed, two each from Bellarmine, the University of Louisville, Jefferson Community & Technical College, Ivy Tech Community College and Northern Kentucky University.
Allison, a Louisville native with a double major in English and secondary education, said she started studying the topic of human trafficking during her senior year of high school. “We had a speaker who spoke about it, and it caught my attention because I had always thought trafficking only happened overseas. The more I studied it, the more I realized how prevalent of an issue it was right here in my hometown.”
Trafficking in Louisville peaks around the Kentucky Derby, she shared in her speech, along with the disturbing statistic that the average age a girl enters the sex industry is 13.
What can her listeners to do help them? “I’m going to ask you to do something that you wouldn’t normally hear in a classroom, especially in the middle of a speech: Take out your phones,” she said. “Take out your phone and put this number in: 1.888.373.7888. This is the national hotline for human trafficking. You can call any hour of the day to report tips and seek services.”
“Speak Up! Kentuckiana” is co-sponsored by Bellarmine’s Institute for Media, Culture & Ethics and School of Communication, along with U of L and JCTC.