Georgia State organization Manumission brings sex trafficking to light

The commercial sexual exploitation of children is not a topic that students are commonly educated on inside of college classrooms. Manumission, a student organization on Georgia State’s campus, is seeking to change that.

Often viewed as taboo, the discussion of human sex trafficking can be a source of discomfort for people. It is hard to imagine a child or a young adult being trapped in a situation where they are forced to commit sexual acts for daily survival needs.

However, this alternate lifestyle does exist, especially in the nooks and crevices of Atlanta.

“There’s a silent part of Atlanta that no one knows about,” Anh Ly, the Co-Vice President of Manumission said.

The ways that people get sucked into the sex trafficking industry vary.

“Some girls can be snatched up, and some are runaways,” Jouvanie Zamor, the Vice President of Manumission said. “Parents [also] sell their children, which is by far the worst to me.”

Once they have been taken in, the children fall victim to physical, mental and emotional abuse. They are forced to do sexual acts in return for money, clothing or food, and if they refuse they often get beaten.

“A lot of people think that slavery is chains and whips,” Christian Ivso, the president of Manumission said. “Most slavery now is coercion. That’s a powerful force.”

The effects of sex trafficking on a victim can be traumatizing. Younger victims are stripped of legitimate parental care and guidance, and others stay trapped because they do not know how to get out of it.

“Age 12 is the most vulnerable age to become a victim,” Ly said. “They need that mother and father figure to guide them, but they don’t have it. All they have is someone who is taking away their basic necessity.”

In efforts to bring light to sex trafficking, Manumission and Street Grace (a faith based organization) are working to raise student awareness through education, lobbying and doing service projects to help enact legislative changes.

“There are no classes being taught at the undergraduate level on this,” Ly said. “We want to be that door for students to learn more about this topic.”

One of their service projects is with Stand Up for Kids,another nonprofit organization in Atlanta that focuses on child homelessness. Through their connection with Stand Up for Kids, Manumission helps children who have had experience in the sex trafficking industry by creating a safe place where the kids can forget about their horrifying experiences and just be regular kids.

“They get a chance to forget reality,” Ivso said.

Seeing kids who have been sucked into the sex trafficking industry can be harsh.

“I don’t think it’s fair, and it’s unfortunate,” Ly said. “They are regular kids like us. If we can have regular lives, why can’t they?”

Ivso, shared similar feelings.

“I’ve gotten to the point where I can’t hear the kid’s testimonies,” Ivso said.

Ivso and Ly both try to remain optimistic, and they take comfort in the fact that they are doing what they can to help make the situation better.

Spreading awareness on the human sex trafficking of children is important to Manumission because they believe that there is power in knowledge. The more that people know about the issue, the more they will act to stop it.

“I feel like our generation can really make a change,” Zamor said. “The more we inform people about this, the more we can make policies and change legislation that negatively effect [victims of the industry].”

It is also important because it helps bring justice to people who have been stripped of their humanity.

“I’m passionate about this because I think that the worst crime on Earth is slavery,” Ivso said, “and I feel that child sex trafficking is the worst form.”