HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
December 11, 2012
Contact Information

Karol Marquez
Florida A&M University


(BLACK PR WIRE/FAMU-TALLAHASSEE) "" The USAID is sponsoring a technological contest for college and university students to combat human trafficking in the United States and abroad. The contest will open in late November 2012 and end in early January 2013.

To enter to the contest, students have to send to the USAID website a short concept note describing their thoughts and/or a short video or other online media to illustrate their ideas. "College students are important. They are the future law enforcers, so we need to educate them," said Gisele Rodriguez, State Outreach Coordinator of Florida Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

According to USAID, trafficking in persons (TIP) is an international crime considered a modern form of slavery. It represents a violation of human rights in which individual victims are deprived of their humanity and basic freedom.

Recent studies by USAID say that human traffickers earn an estimated $32 billion annually. The last International Labor Organization figures show the number of people enslaved in sex or labor exploitation is approximately 20.9 million.

Rodriguez said that the most prosecuted case in Florida for TIP is sex trafficking, but the most complex is forced labor. "It is because most people don't recognize that being forced to work is not only based on wage payments, but also in physical and mental abuse," explained Rodriguez. Statistics show that Florida ranks third in the nation for human trafficking, and half of the victims are children.

"The last year, we partnered with some agencies to implement law enforcements to accelerate prosecutions," said Erin Gillespie, Press Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.In June, Gov. Rick Scott signed The Safe Harbor Act, which grants services to help victims who have been sexually exploited. He also signed the House Bill 7049, which provides prosecutors the capacity to better fight this crime by ensuring tougher penalties.

According to Business360, the current rate for a human slave is $90. Two hundred years ago, a slave cost about $40,000 in today's money. Officials say that the challenges to fight TIP have been the difficulty of collecting accurate data on this clandestine trade, and the complexity of building a global movement.

"Mass media don't inform you properly. I thought that slavery was over"¦ now, I believe that this issue has to be discussed immediately because it is actual and real," said Pamela Barrera, a fourth-year Spanish education student from Lima, Peru.

According to USAID, its tech contest is a call to university students to solve challenges that were once thought to be difficult. Winners will receive a prize and a trip to Washington to participate in a conference to show and discuss their winning ideas with a range of USAID implementing and donor partners.

"This competition is an excellent idea - and big challenge, too," said Barrera. "How you can use technology to prevent children about the risk of looking for better opportunities abroad, if their current reality forces them to do it?"