Last night I went to the first Los Angeles screening of a feature documentary film entitled TRICKED. I was invited by the film's executive producer, Nadia Zilkha, and the picture's co-director/co-writer and producer Jane Wells. It was a brilliant, horrifying film about the sexual trafficking-slavery industry preying upon young people in the United States. Yes, I said "sexual slavery," and the film documents the incredibly sordid situation where thousands upon thousands of young girls (and boys also) have been coerced into the world of prostitution and slavery by hordes of predatory pimps. The film was aided by a Kickstarter financing campaign to help Jane's 3Generations organization complete the picture. This is an important film which airs a subject which has too often been hidden from our view. In the film, we meet a dozen young girls, black and white, who have been coerced into that sordid, sick world by voracious pimps who prey upon them. Often runaways with no place to go, the girls are sweet-talked into a relationship with no end in sight. We also meet a handful of brave police officers and prosecutors who are fighting to put a dent into the huge "industry." It's all about money, and we see the lavish life styles of these pimps, with limos and clothes and homes acquired from the earnings of these sad kids. The film by Jane Wells and her partner John-Keith Wasson is also a brilliant, skillful production which deeply impressed me with its candid professional look, graphics and editing. It ends with a startling statistic: There are over 20 million people who are sexual slaves in the world today. In the United States, prosecutors are faced with cuts in their budgets which mean they can't fight the scourge. The prosecutor in Denver says that his budget has been cut by a million dollars in each of the last three years. A brave female police officer in Vegas tells of the often lax prosecution of the pimps, who usually pay a fine and are released to prey again.
DC Track...a woman walks the 'track' in D.C. Photo by JK Wasson
John arrested in sting. A man is arrested, debriefed and ticketed in Colorado. He said it was his first time soliciting a prostitute. Photo credit by Elizabeth Woller.
It's a human rights crisis of major proportions. President Obama has promised to fight the good fight on the Federal level, but Congress has not appropriated the funds needed. The 3 Generations campaign concluded that there are significant gaps within local government efforts to ending sex trafficking. They note that we must educate the public to choose district attorneys who recognize the huge level of abused women in the commercial sex industry. And we must honor those law enforcement officers who recognize prostitution as modern-day slavery and are in the front lines forcing change. The film makes note of the Direct Service Organizations who are helping victims of trafficking rebuild their lives.
A pimp, Robert, at the Players Ball in Chicago. Photo by Saleem Steele.
Producer/Co-director Jane Wells and Exec Producer Nadia Zilkha. Photo by Jay
Danielle, a survivor. She was under pimp control for two years. Photo by JKWasson
After the screening, two young survivors of this world -- Maui and Nick -- spoke candidly and answered questions, putting a real face to the world we saw on screen. I felt compassion for them and horror at what I had seen. It just happens that I have been working with a writer, Rosemary Turko, on a feature film project called Green Harvest which is about the thousands of young girls -- American and foreign -- who are kept slaves in houses of prostitution all over the country... including many in our own San Fernando Valley! I know this is an uncomfortable and complicated subject, but talking about sex and prostitution is a step toward changing the culture which allows sex slavery. I want to recommend that my Huffington readers find ways to organize screenings of TRICKED in their communities.... young people everywhere should see the picture and be alerted to the incipient dangers. Only by calling attention to this situation can we alleviate it.
This New York john spoke on camera. He was a professional man with degrees. Photo by JK Wasson
Sgt. Dan Steele of the Denver Police keeps an eye on an underground officer. Wasson photo
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