Slavery symposium to be held Saturday in Columbia

Thursday, January 13, 2011 | 6:14 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — To bring awareness to the issue of human trafficking, the Christian Chapel Church will be hosting a "Women in Slavery" symposium.

"It may be a shock to hear that there are 27 million slaves in the world, and people think it's only an international issue," said Pastor John Battaglia. "(Slavery) is in our major cities, our suburban kitchens and our rural farmland."

The symposium will provide information about the people who are involved in rescuing women and children from modern day slavery internationally and locally. 

"The symposium is a good place to start to inform yourself (about human trafficking) and be able to reach out to those around you," event coordinator Carla Marroquin said.

"Columbia is on an interstate, so trafficking certainly occurs," she said. "It happens in your own backyard, and people are unaware of it."

Marroquin said that because Columbia is a college town, students are vulnerable to trafficking because of lack of funds.

"When (students) are disconnected from their families and support groups, you have a kid who needs to generate funds and becomes vulnerable to exploitation," Marroquin said.

Guest speakers will include Mike Bartell, the founder of the grassroots organization F.R.E.E. International, and Battaglia. 

Mustard Seed Fair Trade will also have a booth to sell handcrafted fair trade items. 

The event will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and is sponsored by the Northern Missouri Assembly of God women's department. January 2011 is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Registration can be completed on the department's website. For any questions, contact Carla Marroquin at 445-3611 or

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