If you haven’t seen this movie–you definitely should. It was fantastic, and a great way to raise awareness of human trafficking. The movie focuses on sex trafficking overseas (although the girls trafficked were Americans), but the truth is that trafficking occurs right under our noses. In 2013, the FBI has identified cases in the San Fernando Valley, North Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Pasadena, Santa Monica, MacArthur Park, East LA, Inglewood, South LA, Huntington Park, Long Beach, Orange County, Pomona, Upland, and San Bernardino (cases identified by CAST in Southern CA, as referenced by NCWJLA HTOP Training Slides 2016). More trafficking victims have been saved from the US than in almost any other country, and the numbers are still too low. It is estimated that there are more slaves in the world now, than in any other time in history, close to 36 million on the high end (NCWJLA HTOP Training Slides 2016).
In the movie Caged No More, two of the characters searched brothels in Greece looking for one trafficked girl, and after the first day, they saw I think it was over 200 girls who had been trafficked, and one of the characters asked the other, “How many more do we have to go through?” The second character told him, “We’ve barely seen the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands more.” (These are not direct quotes–they are only approximate). This is just to give you an idea of the vastness of trafficking, and there could be more even than those that we are aware of, because it is difficult to get an accurate number. Imagine that–there could be more than 36 million slaves out there, and we are rescuing only a fraction of those. Awareness has grown, and progress has been made, but there is so much more to do.
The more I learn about human trafficking, the more I learn just how much needs to be done. There is working with lawmakers to get laws passed to stop this international crime and advocating to get those laws enforced like I did Sunday night by going into bars asking them to put up posters. Police and task forces work toward rescuing victims, and then those survivors need resources in order to heal–counseling, shelter, food, clothing, and job/life skills. We need to raise awareness in order to prevent trafficking–I was aware when I was approached by a suspected trafficker, so I knew to walk away, but not everyone does. A lot of the targets are young girls who don’t know how trafficking occurs or even that it does. And then there is prosecuting the traffickers, making the consequences steep, taking away the demand by arresting johns. Fair Trade and Fair Food, which I will talk about more in other posts, to decrease the demand for labor trafficking.
There are so many different layers, and it’s hard to figure out the best way to get involved. But it is something that I have been thinking about a lot lately, and I think that, for now, the best way for me to get involved is to do what I have been doing–to dip my toes in every area, so that I can showcase it here, and attempt to raise awareness, so that others can find their own way of helping.
This post started out as being about the movie Caged No More, which even if you aren’t interested in being a part of the movement to help end human trafficking, it is still an exciting and powerful movie that is a must see. And even though this post didn’t focus on the movie, it turned out to be so much more. Stay tuned for more information about how to get involved.