Ronna Fisher, Content and Assistant Editor
On Tuesday, October 15, SNU students and members of the Oklahoma City community gathered at Wheeler Park for Shine a Light. The event, held by national organization She’s Somebody’s Daughter, was created to promote awareness of and bring an end to the exploitation of women through pornography and human trafficking.
Students from this year’s SPEAK theme house promoted and attended the event, including Allie Oakes, senior International Studies major.
“I think it is important to attend local events like Shine a Light because sex trafficking is such a pervasive and local issue. Oklahoma City is facing a huge problem, and it is vital that the community express concern and support for such prevalent issues in our backyard. This is something I care a lot about and want to help eradicate. No woman should be subjected to sex trafficking, objectification or abuse. Men and women alike need to take a stand against the hyper-sexualization of our society and reach out to all the daughters out there who are manipulated into selling their bodies,” said Oakes.
The website for Shine a Light claims that it will be the “the night the culture begins to change.” In an interview with The Echo, She’s Somebody’s Daughter project manager Tammy Stauffer said, “It is our desire that the over-sexualization of our culture becomes part of history which will happen when we collectively begin to reject it using our voices to speak on behalf of all daughters and sons – simply starting with the words ‘she’s somebody’s daughter or he’s somebody’s son’ begins the kind of conversation that honors all involved.”
The event began with a dance performed to a song about the value of a woman, how “she is somebody’s daughter” and “a daughter of the Father.” Oakes was inspired by the dancer. “[She] symbolized the restoration of value to all of the daughters out there,” she said.
Congressmen James Lankford was scheduled to speak but was unable to leave Washington D.C. In his place was a representative who shared how Lankford first became interested in ending human trafficking in Oklahoma City.
Wanda Pratt, mother of Kevin Durant, basketball player for the Oklahoma City Thunder, also spoke. She began with laptop in hand and notes to follow but soon felt compelled to “share from her heart” about her experience growing up and compelled young women to value themselves.
The night concluded with a “national photo opportunity.” Participants held flashlights in both hands above their heads towards the photographer circling in a helicopter above. “We often do candle-lighting vigils and then have to extinguish those. With flashlights, we can continue shining the light on these not often talked about issues – sexual abuse, pornography, sex trafficking, and encourage others to do the same,” said Stauffer.
According to the website, “She’s Somebody’s Daughter is a movement initiated by concerned parents and groups who are committed to create national dialog about the truth of pornography and its role in driving the demand for sex-trafficking and violence against women and children.” Their goal: “Let’s create a culture that honors women—say yes to dignity and no to exploitation and sexualization!”
Misty Jaggers, Director for student success, attended the event and helped promote it along with the SPEAK house. “I appreciate that the organization is not about ‘shaming’ pornography viewers but educating about the dangers of pornography,” she said, “In order for real change to happen, we must educate in an effort to change a culture that promotes this idea that pornography is private and causes no harm.”
For those who feel they have nothing to offer in the fight against human trafficking, Oakes begs to differ. “I think a huge part of participating in bringing an end to sex trafficking in Oklahoma City is devoting the issue to prayer. There is power in the name of Jesus, and he hears our cries for justice and mercy. Another way to help is by becoming more aware of the issue. A lot of people do not realize how severe sex trafficking is in Oklahoma City or how they may be contributing.”
Jaggers agreed that prayer is the most important way to play a role in ending sex trafficking. She added that students can be praying for “the individuals involved in sex trafficking (the victims, the pimps, the traffickers) and also those that are on the front lines working with these individuals daily.”
Stauffer encourages advocates to educate themselves and “be ready to talk about it.” “This is uncharted territory because most people don’t want to talk about these issues. If we want to see trafficking come to an end, we’d better be ready to address what is driving the demand,” Stauffer said. She’s Somebody’s Daughter began as a conversation by concerned parents in a coffee shop.
This year the SPEAK house is partnering with No Boundaries International. “There will be more opportunities in the future to give a dollar or two, participate in a toiletry drive for victims or buy some baked goods, all in an effort to support the work that No Boundaries International and other organizations are doing in the Oklahoma City community,” said Jaggers.
For more information about She’s Somebody’s Daughter, go to www.shessomebodysdaughter.org.
Or, for more information on how to get involved with SPEAK and No Boundaries International, contact Malori McWilliams at firstname.lastname@example.org.