Atlanta is known as a transportation hub, but there’s a dark side to having the world’s busiest airport and the confluence of interstates: With traffic comes trafficking.
The city was named one of 14 “hotspots” for sex trafficking of children in 2005 by the FBI, and the airport is one of the main conduits. It’s now providing a venue to tackle the issue in the public consciousness.
“In March alone, 8,623,751 passengers flew inn or out of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The airport provides a captive and ideal environment to disseminate impactful messaging about human trafficking,” Deborah Richardson, executive vice president of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, said in a news release.
That’s the reasoning behind a new art exhibit in the airport atrium and in the airport’s Concourse E, which handles mostly international fights. Freedom Expressions ATL aims to raise awareness about this global issue and its effects on the local community.
The center’s International Human Trafficking Institute is partnering with the airport, the City of Atlanta, Delta Air Lines Inc. and Crews to display works of photography and art. Professional works — photos of an Asian woman draped in American flag and folk-artsy installations describing various types of pimps, for instance — grace the airport atrium, while 68 works by Atlanta high schoolers will be hung in Concourse E on June 5. Freedom Expressions ATL will be on display through July 22.
The institute, a group of student leaders and campus organizations brought together by the center, shows its recognition of trafficking as one of the key human rights issues of the 21st century.
Judith Montier, a spokeswoman for the center, said that just as the civil rights movement in Atlanta was spurred on mostly by students, this “modern-day civil rights movement” should also engage young people as activists.
The center is quick to note that while Atlanta is known for sex trafficking, the issue globally is much more broad. Trafficking is the “use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for profit, either through compelled labor or commercial sex acts,” according to a definition cited in the release.
One example taken up on the institute’s website recently is the use of Nepalese laborers in the construction of World Cup venues in Qatar.
Art works for the student portion were chosen from the following schools:
-Atlanta International School
-Benjamin E. Mays High School
-Cross Keys High School
-Forest Park High School
-North Atlanta High School
-Stilwell School of the Arts
-Westminster High School