BCM screens slave trade documentary

Nisheeka Simmons, Staff Writer

Over one hundred students and faculty members of Francis Marion University gathered in Lowrimore Auditorium to view “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls,” a documentary about the modern day human slave trade.

Written, produced and directed by Benjamin Nolot, the documentary screening was hosted by the Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) on Thursday, February.

According to Kendal Danford, the campus minister at BCM, the goal of this showing was to make the Francis Marion University (FMU) student population aware of today’s human slave trade.

“We want to help raise student awareness about people who need hope,” Danford said. “Once you see it, it cannot be unseen.”

With “Nefarious,” Nolot documents the harsh realities of modern slavery by traveling to countries with high numbers of enslaved persons. Moldova, Cambodia, Amsterdam and the United States were some of the countries with the highest numbers of human trafficking.

According to Danford, a lot of people think that slavery is a thing of the past, but it is in fact more prevalent in the present than it was before the United States Civil War.  He went on to say that America is one of the main offenders.

“Do not think that this does not happen here in South Carolina,” Danford said.  “It happens right here in Florence. In fact, Atlanta, Georgia, which is right down the road from here, has the highest level of human trafficking in the U.S.A.”

Carissa Fazio, a graduate of FMU who majored in psychology and is currently employed as a semester missionary at BCM, described the significance of “Nefarious” in her everyday life.

“The movie itself is heart wrenching,” Fazio said. “I have worked with women who have been abused. For them to tell me they have walked the streets of Florence and have been asked a price for their bodies brings the issue of slavery into our backyard.”

The idea for the screening of “Nefarious,” Danford explained, stemmed from Wake Up, an awareness initiative that was held on campus in fall 2012.

“There was a speaker at Wake Up by the name of Mandolin Orrell, and friends of hers actually produced the film,” Danford said.  “We ordered it for use at BCM, and then after showing it to a few students we decided we needed to do a wider exposure on campus.”

Before leaving the screening, the students and faculty who attended received information about ways to support causes to help end modern slavery.  These handouts included information on several campaigns against human trafficking, including institutions like Exodus Cry, Not for Sale and the International Justice Mission.

“We at BCM have been burdened by this cause,” Danford said.  “We are particularly invested in the sale of women and children, who are primarily sold as sex slaves.”

Danford went on to explain that of the approximately 27 million people who are enslaved worldwide, the majority of them are women and children who become victims of sex trafficking.  This primarily happens because it is easier to take advantage of these individuals.

To further increase campus awareness of the plight of the victims of human trafficking, Danford added, BCM is holding another awareness event in March called “Stand for Freedom.”  During the event, there will be rotating groups of students standing in a specific area on campus for a total of twenty-seven consecutive hours.  Each hour is representative of one million people who are currently enslaved.

“This is not just a thing we are doing here at FMU,” Danford said.  “There are college campuses all across the nation that will be participating.  We will stand for those who cannot.”

For more information, visit Kendal Danford in the BCM building or visit www.nefariousdocumentary.com.