Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Local Students, Musicians Join the Fight Against Human Trafficking

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 8:58 AM

human trafficking concert
  • Don't miss this concert for a cause.

For Derek Hackman—a University of Arizona junior and vocalist/guitarist of the Phoenix band Ezer (Eh-Zer)—music has become an avenue to raising awareness about a plague that often times goes unnoticed.

Supported by three other Arizona bands and AbolitionMedia, Hackman has put together a local concert, taking place Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m., at Skrappy’s, with proceeds going to local efforts to stop human trafficking.

Once Hackman was introduced to these evils, it was impossible for him to ignore.

“We are talking about a very real, very common thing here,” he explained. “The scary thing is we never hear much about human trafficking, as it is often misdiagnosed or not even reported upon at all. To put it into perspective, over 10 percent of Thailand’s total income comes from tourists—often Americans—purchasing sex slaves”

After hearing about this pandemic through his involvement in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, Hackman felt compelled to shine light on these issues.

His question was: How?

“I feel there is a certain power and blessing in being a musician or an artist,” he said, “and there comes a very real responsibility with these talents. I want our music to be a positive influence, and over the years, I have come to appreciate media as a means to connect people. Music and art, when brought together, can amplify our voices by the sheer congregation of numbers.”

Aiding his efforts is Abolition Media director Ezra Hagberg—a member of the band Signals, which is also performing at Saturday’s show.

Hagberg explained that human trafficking, or "modern-day slavery," as he put it, has become the fastest growing crime in the world.

“The problem with human trafficking is that it takes on so many different forms,” he said. “It adapts to every environment. It is in Tucson, Phoenix, the northside, southside, eastside, westside, downtown. It has not been uncommon for sex trafficking to exist right on our streets, but it is largely migrating online. Trafficking does not fit into one simple stereotype; it is all around us.”

According to Hagberg, it is not enough to just inform people about the problem.

“If I only tell people about this issue, I have only gone half way,” he said. “I have to back this up with my actions; it’s different to care and not do anything about it.”

United under two common themes—concerns and musical talents—Hackman and Hagberg decided to team up in the fight.

Hackman approached many organizations on campus and even received funding from the Associated Students of the University of Arizona to develop a concert raising both money and awareness for the cause.

The end result will be showcased on April 2 with a four-band lineup consisting of Arizona bands Ezer, Signals, Jasper Drive and Contrite.

With tickets only $5 at the door, Hackman is hopeful the event attracts many of his fellow students, as well as other concerned Tucsonans.

“We are talking about an estimated 300,000 people affected here in the U.S. alone,” Hagberg said. “The scary thing is over half of these cases involve children. Last I checked, the average age was around 13 years old, and I know that Phoenix is not in great standing, as many sex trafficking cases come from the city each year.

“It may sound crazy,” Hackman added, “but I knew of people in high school who used to purchase prostitutes, and they found it sickly comical. The reality is many of these ‘prostitutes’ were victims of this sex trafficking, and there’s a good chance they were beaten or drugged and most likely forced into these actions against their will.”

Abolition Media is fresh off a March 16 fundraiser that collected over $4,000 that was plugged back into local efforts and the upcoming concert.

For those involved, this has become a great opportunity to speak light through the power of music.

“It’s sad, but this is something we cannot just see and stop,” Hackman said, “but once you see these realities, and realize there are more than 27 million people in the world affected by this, its something you can no longer ignore.”

When—Saturday, April 2 at 7 p.m.

How much— $5 at the door

Where— Skrappy’s 191 E. Toole Ave.

Jasper Drive

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