"As wonderful as it is to be here tonight, my goal in the next 18 months is to wake America up!"
With these words, Linda Smith, former U.S. Congresswoman and president of Shared Hope International, ended her keynote address Friday night at the 2010 Regent Law Review Symposium on domestic human trafficking. The symposium was held October 10-11 on the campus of Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va.
Smith's closing remarks introduced Shared Hope's new year-long ad campaign and underscored the symposium's urgent theme: human trafficking is a widespread and growing evil calling for a concerted response from the legal community—and from each of us.
After Smith's address, School of Law Dean Jeffrey Brauch introduced Regent's response to the plight of the enslaved, oppressed, trafficked and marginalized worldwide: Regent Law's new Center for Global Justice, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law.
"God loves justice," Brauch said, reminding his audience that Proverbs 31:7-8 instructs the reader to "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute & judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
"This Scripture is a direct charge to us at this time and place," he said, "and at Regent God is raising up a generation who are ready to do something about it; He's doing a work and it's time for us to join Him."
Through hands-on international summer internships, a unique global justice curriculum and a human trafficking clinic where students will represent local human-rights abuse victims, the Center for Global Justice will equip Regent Law students with the tools they need to be advocates for the oppressed around the world.
Regent Law students have already begun making a difference. Thanks to generous donor support this past summer, Regent funded four global justice interns who served on the ground in Cambodia, India, France, and Washington, D.C.
The center will also come alongside those individuals and groups already working to promote justice and human rights by sharing resources and building a network of collaboration to help them do their work.
The symposium ended with Saturday's human-rights panel featuring human-rights experts from governmental, academic and nonprofit sectors.
Dr. Mohamed Mattar, executive director of Johns Hopkins' Protection Project; the U.S. State Department's Kelly Heinrich, senior counsel, Office to Monitor & Combat Trafficking in Persons; and Harvard University's Protection Project founder Dr. Laura Lederer joined Department of Justice and FBI experts to discuss the extent and implications of domestic human trafficking.