Courtesy of Yara Almeida '19

Pender's talk is part of the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Awareness Week.

November 12, 2018

Weill Medical Professor to Speak on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Youth

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As a part of the ninth Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Awareness Week, Prof. Dr. Vivian Pender, psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medical College will give a presentation on Tuesday about the intersection between health care and the commercial exploitation of children.

The CSEC Awareness Week is organized by Students Against the Sexual Solicitation of Youth, a student group that aims to educate Cornell students about the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children within the United States through workshops, discussions and movie screenings, according to the group’s website. The talk is also sponsored by the Public Service Center.

SASSY invited Pender to the University to expand the reach of awareness about exploitation within New York State and possible solutions to address it, according to Zara Schreiber ’21, SASSY’s public relations chair.

“Our goal in doing this is to have more people involved in learning about this issue that is not talked enough [about] in our society, so that once they go off after this week, they can [continue] to internalize it,” Schreiber said.

According to the Facebook event page, Pender is the founder of the nonprofit organization Healthcare Against Trafficking and the chair of the NGO Committee on Mental Health.

“She has unique firsthand perspectives on the different aspects of how CESC intersects with health care and what health providers can do to help,” Schreiber said.

The president of SASSY, Darshna Anigol ’19, told The Sun that she became interested in the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of youth after going on a service learning trip with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services, a nonprofit organization that “provides services to commercially sexually exploited and domestically trafficked girls and young women,” according to the group’s website.

There, she learned that the average age of entry into commercial sexual exploitation is about 12-14 years.

“These girls are around my age. Because of different circumstances in lives that are totally out of their control, we are in two [different] positions,” Anigol said. “I have to do my part in addressing this issue.”

Schreiber said she developed a passion for the issue for a similar reason. She had been a part of GEMS since her freshman year of high school. After coming to Cornell and finding out about “all the incredible things that SASSY” does, she felt motivated to join the group.

Schreiber said she is “very excited” about the upcoming talk and encourages “people from all career paths to come.”

“A lot of Cornell students are very active and have a strong voice … I think this event is going to be something that would be really enriching for them to learn more about,” Schreiber said.

“To help fix the issue … they first need to learn about it and hear about it,” she added. “It is not just a niche topic. It’s something that is really applicable to everyone.”

According to Schreiber, the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Awareness Week will also involve “A World for Girls” photo campaign, where the community will share “what kind of world they want to foster for girls,” and the streaming of the documentary Very Young Girls.

Pender’s discussion will be held from 5 – 6:15 p.m. on Tuesday in 201 Rockefeller Hall.