Red Sand Project raises human trafficking awareness

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The Red Sand Project, a participatory artwork event that aims to bring awareness to the global problem of human trafficking and modern-day slavery, will be held at noon Wednesday, April 25, at the Flathead Valley Community College Arts & Technology Building.

The community is invited to participate. Each person attending will be provided with red sand to fill cracks in sidewalks.

“These interventions remind us that we cannot merely walk over marginalized people in our community ­— those that fall through the metaphorical cracks,” said Jennifer Fugatt, a member of Soroptimist International of Whitefish’s human trafficking committee. “The simple act of placing sand in a crack may seem inconsequential, but small actions can help raise awareness of the issues facing those that are overlooked.”

Soroptimist Whitefish is a sponsor of the event and is partnering with FVCC on the awareness project.

The Red Sand Project recognizes the overlooked population that can include refugees immigrants, girls, runaways, homeless teens and others who are a high risk of being enslaved and exploited for the profit of others.

An estimated 40,300,000 people are enslaved in the world today, according to a national study done by Richard Estes and Neil Weiner of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Study of Youth Policy. The study focused on the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery that occurs in every state, including Montana, Fugatt said. She will be speaking about the Red Sand Project and Soroptimist International’s involvement in trafficking awareness at the FVCC event. An officer with the Flathead County Sheriff’s Office also will speak about the newly organized Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force is a collaboration of all area law-enforcement departments and other partners such as Child and Protective Services, the City-County Health Department, County Attorney’s Office, Abbey Shelter, Soroptimist International and youth support organizations.

Learn more about the Red Sand Project, go to #RedSandProject or https://redsandproject.org

The Montana Department of Justice also has information about human trafficking at https://dojmt.gov/agooffice/human-trafficking/.

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