Convocation focused on efforts to end child trafficking

January 9, 2017

Carleton’s weekly convocation on Friday, Jan. 13 will be presented by Rob Morris, president and co-founder of Love146, a non-profit organization working to end child trafficking through survivor care and prevention education. Morris’s inspiring presentation is titled “The Modern-Day Abolitionist: What it Takes for Everyday People to Fight Injustice.”

Convocation is held Fridays from 10:50 to 11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel, and are free and open to the public. Convocations are also recorded and archived for online viewing at go.carleton.edu/convo.

The child sex trafficking industry is a $12-32 billion dollar-a-year industry. But instead of focusing on statistics, Morris considers the plight of individual children. The trafficking and exploitation of children is a dark story, and one of the most severe human rights abuses imaginable. Yet for Morris and the team at Love146, the hope of ending it is a reality. They are actively helping to grow the movement to end child trafficking while providing effective, thoughtful solutions.

In 2002, Morris traveled to Southeast Asia on an exploratory trip to determine how he could serve in the fight against child trafficking. In one experience, he went undercover with investigators, and was taken to a brothel where he witnessed children being sold for sex.

He recalls this life-changing event, which also provided the inspiration for the name of his organization:

“We found ourselves standing shoulder to shoulder with predators in a small room, looking at little girls through a pane of glass. All of the girls wore red dresses with a number pinned to their dress for identification.

They sat, blankly watching cartoons on TV. They were vacant, shells of what a child should be. There was no light in their eyes, no life left. Their light had been taken from them. These children…raped each night… seven, ten, fifteen times every night. They were so young. Thirteen, eleven… it was hard to tell. Sorrow covered their faces with nothingness. 

Except one girl. One girl who wouldn’t watch the cartoons. Her number was 146. She was looking beyond the glass. She was staring out at us with a piercing gaze. There was still fight left in her eyes. There was still life left in this girl….

All of these emotions begin to wreck you. Break you. It is agony. It is aching. It is grief. It is sorrow.

The reaction is intuitive, instinctive. It is visceral. It releases a wailing cry inside of you. It elicits gut-level indignation. It is unbearable. I remember wanting to break through the glass. To take her away from that place. To scoop up as many of them as I could into my arms. To take all of them away. I wanted to break through the glass to tell her to keep fighting. To not give up. To tell her that we were coming for her….

Because we went in as part of an ongoing undercover investigation on this particular brothel, we were unable to immediately respond. Evidence had to be collected in order to bring about a raid and eventually justice on those running the brothel. It is an immensely difficult problem when an immediate response cannot address an emergency. Sometime later, there was a raid on this brothel and children were rescued. But the girl who wore #146 was no longer there. We do not know what happened to her, but we will never forget her. She changed the course of all of our lives.” 

Morris has lectured and taught in over 30 countries on issues of justice, compassion, and human rights, and has been featured in the Huffington Post, Fox News, the CNN Freedom Project and more. Love146 was named an “Agent of Change” by GQ Magazine, and earned a Myspace Impact Award for social justice.

The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First and College Streets in Northfield. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308