Des Moines University series to raise awareness of human trafficking

Human trafficking is a modern-day slavery, involving victims who are forced, defrauded or coerced into labor or sexual exploitation. An estimated 293,000 U.S. children are at risk of being exploited and trafficked. Des Moines University is holding a series of events to bring awareness to the issue.

On Wednesday, October 1, DMU is partnering with Plymouth Congregational Church to screen the film Nefarious: Merchants of Souls. The film provides an introduction to human trafficking and will be shown at 7 p.m. in the Student Education Center (SEC) Auditorium, 3300 Grand Avenue.

On Thursday, October 9, Jeffrey Barrows, D.O.’78, M.A., will present “Human Trafficking Awareness for the Health Care Professional” at 6 p.m. in the SEC Auditorium. Barrows is vice president of education and advocacy for Abolition International, an organization working to end sex trafficking and exploitation. A panel discussion will immediately follow his presentation. Panelists include:

  • Ben Rezny, D.O.’16, a former Minnesota police officer who worked on a federal task force investigating human sex trafficking and Internet crimes against children
  • Michael Ferjak, senior criminal investigator for the Iowa Department of Justice/Iowa Attorney General’s Office and director of the Iowa Department of Justice Human Trafficking Enforcement and Prosecution Initiative
  • Rachel Klein, a trafficking survivor

On Thursday, October 23, Des Moines University students will host a discussion about inequality and human rights in the Munroe Building, Room 101, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Global Health Learning Collaborative (GHLC), a student-led course aimed at introducing students to the key concepts and principles of global health.

“Although our research on human trafficking initially began with a global perspective, it didn’t take long for us to realize the prevalence in our own country,” says Katherine McGough, D.O.’17, GHLC educator. “These individuals are present in our hospitals, clinics and neighbor’s homes. Many aren’t prepared to recognize that reality. We felt it was our obligation to share this knowledge. Together, we can raise awareness and make an impact both domestically and abroad.”

All events are free and open to the public. For a map and directions to campus, visit


Scroll to Top