A few years ago, I saw the movie Taken (2008) about a 17-year old girl kidnapped in Paris and sold into prostitution. Fortunately, in this movie, the teenage girl’s father is a retired CIA agent, and he is able to get his daughter back and inflict some serious punishment on the traffickers. The scariest scene in the movie that’s been shown repeatedly in the trailer is where the girl is hiding under the bed pleading with her father to help her, when she is discovered and pulled roughly from underneath to disappear into this netherworld of child trafficking and sex abuse.
This week, I saw another movie called Trade (2007) with a similar theme, where a 13-year old girl is abducted outside her home on the streets of Mexico City while riding her new birthday bicycle. The scenes of sexual abuse, violence, forced drugging, and more were enough to send me for an emotional deep dive. In the movie, while other innocent women are trafficked, abused, and murdered, this little girl is saved by her brother and Texas cop who join forces to rescue her (and other children found behind a secret door in the same house) from being sold into sex slavery.
At the conclusion of the movie, the tagline comes up about 50,000 to 100,000 girls, boys, and women being trafficked annually to the U.S. to be pimped out or sold for forced sex–and more than 1 million are trafficked annually across international borders against their will.
According to The Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “There are at least 12.3 million enslaved adults and children around the world at any given time.” I would guess that these numbers are quite understated given all the silent victims around the world that have been silenced by fear, coercion, and violence and so we don’t even know about them and their plights.
Further, The Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons has many good resources including information, tips, and training located at that site.
I’ve attached, at the top, the phone number of the Customs and Border Protection hotline to report human trafficking. There is also a non-profit hotline at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center.
While this is frequently portrayed as women’s issue and it is, it is also a family and societal issue that affects all of us. When a women or child is abused, the impact goes way beyond the individual.
I know that I can certainly not understand how anyone can inflict these cruelties on others. Money doesn’t explain it. Circumstances doesn’t explain it. To me, there must truly be such a thing as evil in this world, and unfortunately, we are all witnesses to it.
Look out for others, the way you would want them to look out after your own–maybe together, we can help tilt the scale in favor of the victims.