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Human Trafficking Expert Visits Drexel

July 14, 2014

E. Benjamin Skinner, author and modern-day slavery expert, visited Drexel’s campus on May 28 for an exclusive presentation on his work. The Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building lecture hall in which the presentation took place was standing room only by the time Skinner was ready to begin.

According to Skinner, some of the first things that come to mind when people hear of modern-day slavery are things like mortgages and technology. He has logged over two million flight miles on his journey to help raise awareness of what modern-day slavery truly is, has appeared on television, and has authored articles on the subject for many publications, including TIME and Bloomberg Businessweek. In his well-attended presentation at Drexel, Skinner highlighted excerpts from his recent book, A Crime So Monstrous, as well as from various articles he has written on the topic of human trafficking.

Skinner defined victims as “those that are forced to work, held through fraud, under threat of violence, with no pay beyond subsistence.” He revealed that there are more slaves today than at any point in human history. Although he believes that the current metrics available can be interpreted very subjectively, it is possible through the use of police records, investigations, government estimates, and arrests to estimate the count well over 21 million and even as high as 30 million affected individuals.

Skinner noted was that those guilty of human trafficking do not view the people they enslave as “employees,” much less as humans, but rather as “disposable.” He went on to tell the story of a man name Yusril who was looking to find a job. His search ended at a shipping yard. After being pressured into taking a position on a fishing vessel, Yusril quickly found himself as an indentured worker on a ship with no hope of freedom at the young age of 28 years old. Skinner hopes to continue to spread awareness of human trafficking and modern-day slavery and ended his Drexel talk by offering some guidance to the audience about ways in which they can get involved in efforts to address the problem.

The presentation was brought to campus through the efforts of a new student organization at Drexel, Students Advocating Against Slavery (SAAS), and was co-sponsored by The College of Nursing and Health Professions and its Alumni Network, The Office of International Programs, The College of Arts and Sciences, The International Area Studies Program, and The Women’s Studies Program. SAAS is led by faculty advisor Donna Sabella, an assistant clinical professor and the Director of Global Studies at the College of Nursing and Health Professions, with the mission to “stand against human trafficking though education, preventative action, and advocacy in order to create a better-informed campus and a community equipped to end slavery around the world.” They aim to address the key, root issues of modern day slavery through education, prevention, awareness, events, and training. SAAS’s goal is to see Drexel University become an informed and engaged campus with a student body that is equipped to confront the social issue of human trafficking. They welcome anyone who wishes to get involved. Contact