Human-trafficking symposium draws activists, polic...

Human-trafficking symposium draws activists, police, students

Students in a Human Rights course taught by Dr. John Maynor, associate professor of political science at MTSU, will present a symposium on human trafficking Wednesday, April 4, in the University’s Business and Aerospace Building.

The free public event is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the State Farm Lecture Hall, Room BAS S-102.

Experts scheduled to participate are:

  • Colette Bercu, founder and director of Free for Life International, an area organization that works with victims of trafficking abroad;
  • Sheila McClain of Magdalene House/Thistle Farms, a Nashville-based residential program and social enterprise that helps women, including trafficking victims; and
  • Special Agent Jason Wilkerson of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, who will discuss the extent of trafficking in Tennessee.

“Human trafficking and modern-day slavery are human rights violations of the most fundamental nature,” says Maynor. “Victims of trafficking have lost some of the most basic human rights such as the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Federal anti-trafficking task forces opened 2,515 suspected cases of human trafficking in the United States from 2008 to 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Of those incidents, 82 percent were classified as sex trafficking. Nearly half of these involved people under the age of 18.

According to, an estimated 27 million people worldwide, including 13 million children, are trapped in slavery. The nongovernmental humanitarian group says human trafficking is the second largest and fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the world.

This event grew out of a course developed with a Curriculum Integration Grant from the MTSU President’s Commission on the Status of Women. For more information, contact Maynor at 615-898-5460 or

— Gina K. Logue (