Yuma, Arizona - An Arizona Western College professor was recently recognized for her decade-long pursuit of raising awareness about human trafficking.
Monica Ketchum, AWC Professor of History, was honored with an “Angel of Trafficking” award from the Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition (BSCC) during their 8th Annual Freedom Breakfast and Awards event in San Diego, Calif. She also received certificates of recognition for her work from U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and California State Senator Toni Atkins, D-San Diego.
“As the San Francisco District Attorney and then Attorney General for California, Kamala Harris made prosecuting human traffickers and assisting victims of human trafficking a priority, so receiving recognition from her office means a lot to me,” said Ketchum.
A founding member of the Imperial Valley Unity Coalition, Ketchum has played a role in educating and training a number of different organizations and agencies on several issues related to human trafficking. As part of her coalition’s annual summit, she has had an opportunity to raise awareness with a diverse group of advocates including local, state, and federal law enforcement; the District Attorney’s Office; social services, and nonprofit organizations.
She first began fighting against human trafficking when Soroptimist International adopted the subject as a focus issue about 10 years ago. As a member of the Calexico Soroptimist Club, she partnered with a small committee to organize a “STOP Human Trafficking” awareness rally on the border. Their first rally was in 2011, followed by two more in 2012 and 2013.
“Our efforts brought awareness to the issue and Imperial County District Attorney, Gilbert Otero has remarked that the publicity we generated spurred his office to adopt the issue as a focus,” she said.
“Although Ketchum initially focused her efforts on raising awareness about sex trafficking of women and girls, over the years she discovered that the issue is much more complex and far-reaching than she originally thought.
Although my primary focus remains on sex trafficking, I have broadened my understanding, through research, into how the internet has become a recruiting tool and addressing the demand side of sex trafficking. Understanding how traffickers prey upon vulnerable populations is key, and I have researched and presented on the trafficking of LGBTI youth and Syrian refugees at conferences in El Centro and Tucson in the past year,” she said.
Ketchum started teaching part-time for AWC in 2009 and has been working full-time for the college since 2012. She also regularly teaches a Women’s Studies class called, “Sex, Power, and Politics” for San Diego State University’s Imperial Valley Campus.
She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree in History from California State University, Long Beach, where colonialism, imperialism, and slave trade factored heavily into her studies. Ketchum believes these historical topics have ties into modern human trafficking today.
“I’m a member of ‘Historians Against Slavery,’ which is a community of historians who equate modern-day human trafficking with the slavery of the past. I believe that my profession gives me insights into modern problems in that I often spot patterns that have occurred in the past repeating.”
Ketchum currently serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) and is on the board of directors for WomanHaven, A Center for Family Solutions. She’s also a member of the Imperial Valley Food Bank’s Harvest Bowl Committee, is an advisor for the Athenas after-school club she co-founded at William Moreno Junior High, and has worked on several projects with the Calexico Chamber of Commerce.
Considered an expert in her field, Ketchum presents widely on a variety of topics. This weekend, Ketchum is presenting at the Hawai’i, California & Northwest Joint Regional Meeting of the World History Association in Seattle.