Anti-slavery group raises awareness

Two years after he attended a conference that opened his eyes to the realities of modern slavery, Michael Dobbs, junior from Winchester, Ky., began the International Justice Mission Club.

The IJMC is aims to give students in Murray the opportunity to help the millions of people living the realities of slavery today.

“I learned about modern-day slavery at Passion (Conference), and had no idea it was as large of a problem as it is,” Dobbs said. “Since then, I wanted to raise awareness and funds to combat it.”

According to the Anti-Slavery Organization, an international organization that works to bring awareness of modern slavery to the world, there are several different types of slavery still in existence today: bonded labor, child slavery, early and forced marriage, forced labor, descent-based slavery and trafficking. Among these, child slavery affects approximately 5.5 million children.

In an FBI law enforcement bulletin, Amanda Walker-Rodriguez and Rodney Hill, who are both current members of the Maryland Human Trafficking Task Force, describe how sex trafficking, or sex slavery, is not just an international problem, but a domestic one as well.

The bulletin explains that in the sex trade, it is most common for slaves to be taken from less-developed areas such as southeast Asia, Russia and South America, and moved to more developed places such as the Middle East, western Europe and North America.

“Unfortunately, however, sex trafficking also occurs domestically,” Hill and Walker-Rodriquez said in the bulletin. “The United States not only faces an influx of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors.”

According to the bulletin, sex trade is the fastest growing business in organized crime, and is also the third largest criminal business globally.

Statistics like these made Dobbs want to create IJMC and get students involved in the fight.

“The biggest problem facing those in human trafficking is that very few people know about it,” Dobbs said. “The main thing is to get the word out and educate people on the problem, and that’s why students should join.”

Some people are hesitant to join IJMC, citing previous attempt of international justice that have never come to fruition.

“I’d really like to be a part of something like that,” said Olivia Deppen, junior from Louisville, Ky. “I’d be curious to know what they’d be doing exactly though. Is it another Kony 2012 thing, or is it legitimate?”

Dobbs’ goal for the organization is for it to swell to be a force of aid for those trapped in slavery.

“In my opinion, students should join if they want to give the voiceless a voice,” Dobbs said. “My hope is that the organization can build and grow in the future to become an asset to the fight against human trafficking.”

The IJMC is actively recruiting members. If anyone is interested in joining, Dobbs can be contacted through his email,


Story by Amanda Grau, Staff writer