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Fatal Promises: A Look at Human Trafficking

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It is absolutely unacceptable that we have a slave trade in the 21st century.  It is beyond belief - Emma Thompson

I saw Fatal Promises
on Saturday and I have not stopped thinking about the topic.  It's not
because Emma Thompson was there and was so passionate about the issue,
it's because I felt -- and still feel -- really ignorant on the topic.

To
me it's unfathomable to believe and understand how people can feel
that's it's ok to sell other people.  They sell people and make money
at it.  All day, every day.  This is a huge business.  Bigger than arms
and drugs, yet we all want to get rid of drugs and keep trying
unsuccessfully to deal with the arms topic, but the selling of people
-- mostly women and girls -- just passes us by as we go about our every
day lives.

The film tells the story of several people -- both men and women --
who have escaped from slavery.  Yes, they are slaves.  It's not what we
think of as slavery, but they are held against their will, lots of time
transported to foreign country, lots of time sexually abused, not fed
and made to do work that they are not paid for.  That's slavery.

Emma Thompson became moved by the issue because she met a woman,
Elena, who worked in a massage parlor on Emma's street in London.  It
was a place she and her family passed every day and joked about and
behind the glass window was a young woman who was a slave.

Lots of people who are trafficked are women and girls who are forced into sex work.  Girls are kidnapped or sold and young women are lured lots of times by other women into situations they can't escape from. Fundamentally as Emma Thompson said:

I suppose that it has to do with
the fact that in the world there is not enough safety for women.  Women
are not safe in many places and that's a huge and complex issue but in
essence the undervaluing of the female is at the root of all of this.

As an individual, the whole issue seems so overwhelming because
there is so much that is unknown.  It's an underground issue that is
about power, sex and money.   But you can do something.  First, think
about the people around you. Lots of times people who have been
trafficked are hidden in plain sight.  If something looks fishy call
the cops.  Problem is that lots of times the women who have been
trafficked are treated like criminals because there are no good laws to
deal with persons who are in another country against their will without
proper papers.

Another thing to do is to learn about the issue.  That's on my
list.  If you are in New York, go and see this film.  It opens tomorrow at the
Cinema Village.

In November, Emma Thompson who is the chair of the Helen Bamber Foundation, an organization that works with survivors of human rights abuses, will bring to NY Journey an installation that,

...[B]rings the reality of the sex trafficking industry to the forefront of
social consciousness and empower people to take action. Shackles bind
perpetrators to victims, and victims to the punters who exploit them.

Here are some tidbits
(courtesy of Charlotte Cooper and her Flip Cam) from Emma and director
Kat Rohrer talking about the issue after the screening on Saturday.

You can check out the trailer for the film on the Fatal Promises site

.