Posts Tagged ‘trafficking’

Ulrich Seidl’s film, Import/Export, about two migrations in post-Soviet Europe is described as “startling, horrible and brilliant” by Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian.  This film has been added to my list of films on slavery / human trafficking, thanks to a recommendation in a comment on this blog.

Import ExportThe film’s official website lists the following synopsis:

“Import/Export chronicles two different migrations: a young woman who leaves behind her mother and young child in The Ukraine to begin a new life as a nurse in Vienna; and a headstrong young security guard called Paul who leaves Vienna to accompany his stepfather on a trip delivering gumball machines in Eastern Europe.”

You can view a trailer at the official website

View other FILMS and BOOKS about slavery / human trafficking



Chelo Alvarez-Stehle has produced a documentary on slavery in the form of human sex trafficking. Here’s the description from the filmmaker:

“A 15-year quest to expose the underworld of sexual exploitation and trafficking from Asia to the Americas leads world-reporter Chelo Alvarez-Stehle to the windswept beach where her childhood ended and family secrets began. As she documents the transformation of sex-trafficking survivor Virginia Isaias—a Mexican American woman whose past is engulfed in a cycle of sexual exploitation—into an inspiring advocate committed to break that pattern, Chelo undertakes a parallel journey of healing and introspection as she sets out to shatter the silence about abuse in her own life.”

Sands of Silence Official Trailer English 2:30 min from Chelo Alvarez-Stehle on Vimeo.

Find other FILMS or BOOKS about slavery and human trafficking

Today is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, and it’s got me thinking and reading about the issue more than usual.  I found an excellent site with FAQs about Human Trafficking, and it’s worth checking out.  However, I had another thought regarding the FAQs of a trafficking victim.  I don’t know because I’m not a victim of human trafficking, but I strongly suspect that the frequently asked questions of slavery victims are quite different than the questions from most of us seeking information about this topic.  My intent is not to be disrespectful to victims in my ignorance, or even overly dramatic. But I do hope to provoke thought.  Naturally, I don’t attempt to offer answers at this point.

These are my guesses, and please click here to add your own guesses at victim FAQs:

  • Will I be beaten (by the men who rape me) tonight?
  • Will my children ever be able to go to school?
  • How come God never seems to hear me?
  • If I try to escape, will they kill my family?
  • How can I get enough johns to avoid getting beaten by <insert pimp’s name>?
  • Am I going to get AIDS from this guy?

As I mentioned above, here is a link for the site that prompted my post

Please leave a comment with your reactions or your own guesses at victim FAQs.

(Carl’s update note on November 8, 2012:  The next National Human Trafficking Awareness Day will be January 11, 2013.  You can start preparing now. Make a plan with your family, friends, church group, organization for how to spread awareness about slavery and human trafficking on and around that day. One way to prepare is to read a book or watch a movie to get educated, inspired, and be ready to join the movement.)

January 11th is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day in the U.S. by act of the Congress.  President Obama has declared January to be Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention month.

What are you going to do to build awareness for you and others?  Click on the speech bubble symbol above this post (or here) to leave a comment and share your plan for observing National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Here are some ideas on how to observe it:

Attend a public event or prayer vigil –

Get one of these books on human trafficking to educate yourself

Get one of these movies on human trafficking, or watch one on Netflix

Donate to an organization that fights human trafficking, such as the Not for Sale Campaign, Polaris Project or one of the organizations listed on the left bar of this page

Volunteer with an organization that assists victims of human trafficking such as GEMS-Girls or one of the organizations listed on the left bar of this page

Buy a product that is Fair Trade Certified or Made by Survivors

Climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with The Freedom Climb.  (If you can’t make it to Tanzania by Wednesday, perhaps just sponsor a climber or one of their causes. 🙂 )

Please click on the speech bubble icon above this post (or here) to leave a comment with your thoughts, ideas, plans for National Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

I’m reading A Crime So Monstrous by E. Benjamin Skinner.  Skinner visited Haiti to investigate human trafficking.  He wrote that one could “successfully bargain a human being down to the price of cab fare to JFK.”  The seller was offering to find him a 13 year old girl, maybe younger, to take back to the US for housecleaning work, and even as a sex partner. 

On one hand, I would prefer not to know that kids are able to be bought, and so cheaply.  But this is stuff I’m choosing to find out.  Why? As I’m learning more about human trafficking, I’m realizing that my consumer choices have an impact on slavery in places like Haiti.  My chocolate, my clothing, my coffee, my smart phone, my computer, the cleaning service, and more.  When I spend based on price and brand alone, without regard to the labor and raw material purchasing policies of the companies that produce my stuff, I give those companies an incentive to use slave labor to keep their prices low.  At the very least, those companies don’t have an incentive to carefully monitor the sources of labor and raw materials for their products. Reading a book like Skinner’s helps me be a more responsible consumer and a more compassionate person.

Skinner’s book and others related to human trafficking are listed on the Non-fiction books page.

Made by Survivors has a way for you to team up with trafficking survivors from around the world by sharing your compassionate heart, your creativity, your time, and even your shopping! The My Sister Project was designed to connect women and girls around the world and help make it a better and safer world.  Share a survivor sister’s story, tell your own sister story, buy a survivor’s products, write a blog, or simply join the Made by Survivors family and learn more about the abolitionist movement.  Click here to learn more.

Swanee Hunt at Demand Abolition has written a compelling essay making the case against purchasing women and girls for sexual gratification.  Demand Abolition highlights the demand side of human trafficking.  They take the view that focusing on victim rescue & rehabilitation, and trafficker prosecution, will never solve the problem of slavery and commercial rape.  Without addressing the buyers of commercial sex (the demand side of the business transaction), the fight against sex slavery is a losing battle.  Hunt breaks the argument into 14 main points, carefully explaining every point, and summarizes each with a provocative statement, including:

  • Purchasing sex is an assault on the other’s dignity
  • Buying sex is inhumane
  • Most modern day prostitution is modern day slavery

Demand Abolition has a lot of good information about why there needs to be more emphasis on addressing demand in order to effectively fight human trafficking.  Customers of commercial sex (the johns) need to be educated and/or prosecuted in order to curb the winked-at practice of buying people’s bodies for sex.  The article is provocative, and you may not agree with everything you read there, but it’s worth looking at if you’re serious about ending sex trafficking.

I had already been pretty convinced that non-trafficked prostitution, whether legal or illegal, encouraged human trafficking because the market for commercial sex created an economic incentive to supply the sex workers as cheaply as possible.  But now, having read the article at Demand Abolition, I feel as if I can articulate the reasons better, and I have more reasons to consider that I didn’t really think of before.

Village Voice Media has an online ad section called  One of the sections is “Adult”, and critics say that occasionally it’s used by sex traffickers to sell sex with minors. defends the practice as free press.  They use the analogy that just because people sometimes send illegal material through the mail, we don’t shut down the post office.  They also claim that if they don’t sell the ads, someone else will.  Critics want them to either remove the adult section altogether, or require identification and photos for all Adult ads to prevent sexual abuse of minors.   It’s a similar situation to Craigslist, which last year shut down its paid adult services section after persistent pressure from a variety of sources.

The NY Times has an article on the subject titled Fighting Over Online Sex Ads.

Should advertisers be free to accept ads, when they don’t control the content, and when there is a significant risk that the ads may be used to sell sex with minors?

Is this a strictly legal issue, implicating freedom of the press?

Is this a moral issue where a business needs to respond to public pressure and proactively protect minors from being sexually trafficked?

What do you think of the analogies that Backpage is using?  Is there a similarity between someone using the Adult section of to advertise prostitution which turns out to be sex trafficking of a minor, and someone using the postal service to transport illegal material from one person to another?  Does it make a difference to you that the advertising is broadcast by an unidentified poster to all readers, while the post office is transporting material from one identifiable source to a specific addressee? 

What about the argument that if shuts down its Adult section, those people will advertise somewhere else?  For instance, when Craigslist shut down its paid adult services section, how many of those customers went to, and other such alternatives?  Is this similar to a community attempting to move an adult bookstore or theater out of a high traffic downtown neighborhood? 

What about the critics?  Is their request to have require positive ID of those advertising in the Adult section reasonable?  Would it help the situation? 

Do they have a right to have shut down the Adult section on moral grounds?  Is the possibility that minors might be trafficked sufficient to warrant shutting down the Adult section? 

What arguments are most persuasive to you?  Please add your thoughts and comments.

A young woman was trafficked into prostitution in Kolkata, India, and then rescued at age 16.  After more than a year of freedom and healing, she was victimized again, and trafficked into a brothel across the country to Mumbai.  It took rescuers more than four months to find her again in the vast red light district of an enormous city.  Watch the story at International Justice Mission’s web site.

While most of the world is getting ready to host, compete, attend, watch, protest, or exploit the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, a group of aboriginal women in Vancouver Stop Trafficking Newsletterare preparing to fight forced prostitution and sex trafficking connected with the 2010 Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.  The June 2008 issue of the Stop Trafficking Newsletter highlights issues of prostitution and sex trafficking of aboriginal and indigenous women in Canada and the US.

In addition to informing the reader that aboriginal women in Canada are significant numbers of the prostitutes there, the writer of the lead article asserts that legalized prostitution not only doesn’t protect women prostitutes, but it increases their subjugation, and legitimizes the pimps and johns who keep them there.  Do you agree?