Texas Tech's Honors College and College of Media & Communication student Anna Claire Beasley uses her skills to increase awareness about all forms of trafficking.
In eighth grade, Anna Claire Beasley met a survivor of human trafficking while volunteering at a children's home in Arkansas. The experience shook her to her core and left her questioning what she could do to help.
Near the end of her freshman year at Texas Tech in spring 2016, the electronic media and communications major and Honors College student from Castroville began working on a solution and founded Students Ending Slavery.
“This happens in every community,” Beasley said. “I wanted Students Ending Slavery to be a partnership and plug in to places already doing stuff so students do not just talk about trafficking, but do something about it.”
The student organization is dedicated to providing a platform for education and awareness of human trafficking, Including sex trafficking, and what actions to take if a student knows of someone who is a victim. Since its creation, members have worked with local organizations like Voice of Hope, formerly the Lubbock Rape Crisis Center, to raise funds, coordinate events and educate the local community about the prevalence of human trafficking in West Texas.
During the fall of 2016, Beasley, who plans to graduate in May and then enroll in the Graduate School, used the skills she's honed in the College of Media & Communication to create a documentary with a group of fellow students. The film, “(Un)Registered,” featured Lubbock advocates and experts who spoke about the underlying trafficking situation in the area and the rest of the state, the obstacles that exist in helping and supporting victims, and the efforts being made to combat trafficking.
Beasley also has worked to bring awareness to the issues of trafficking not just in Lubbock, but in other places around the world. In the summer of 2017, she studied abroad in Denmark. Her work included a trip to the red-light district in Amsterdam, where she studied those who work in the sex industry and how they are affected by human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation.
“Sex workers are one of the most misunderstood and marginalized groups, and everyone has an opinion about sex work, both good and bad, whether or not they've ever come into contact with it firsthand,” Beasley wrote in a Facebook post while visiting Amsterdam. “As many of you know, I do a lot of anti-trafficking and human rights work. Often, that means combatting sexual exploitation and abuse in all its forms. My goal this week is to put away personal bias and open myself up to listening and learning from the people I fight for.”
Though the issue of human trafficking may seem too big to tackle, Beasley's outreach includes encouraging others to make small changes in their everyday routines that can go on to have big effects. One thing she asks is that others be aware of the consumer choices they make at home and abroad and how those choices may contribute to or combat human trafficking.
“Think about the companies you are supporting, the hotels where you are staying,” Beasley said. “Are they training any of their employees on what to do when they see trafficking? A lot of little things come down to the decisions you are making and using your purchasing power and consumer power for good.”