Hollywood. A town a of glamour, movie starts and money. But honestly I have not been very impressed with Hollywood lately. I haven’t seen many movies or TV shows that are worth my time or many kind of praise.
But then I see things like Ashton Kutcher’s speech to Congress about his organization that has help over 6,000 victims of human and sex trafficking. And I see Pink’s video “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken” with links to Unicef and women who are victims all over the world. And I have a friend who is a movie producer of Christian films like “God’s Not Dead” and specifically a movie about human sex trafficking called “Caged No More.”
They have such a huge platform and are truly using their influence to make changes and help those who need it most. And truth is that human trafficking can happen anywhere, On any street, in any town. It can happen in any house. Atlanta is one of the biggest cities for human and sex trafficking in the world. And there have been many news stories about human trafficking rings being busted, news cameras surrounding houses where the victims were being held and forced to work. Many times those houses are in very affluent neighbors, in multi-million dollar homes. Surprised? Most are. It that insidious, that it can be so close, yet undetected.
Maybe this topic hits so close to home because my parents took foster children. We were a therapeutic foster home, which meant that we got those who had often been abused the worst and were the most damaged. So I have seen what severe sexual abuse does to children. I know what it means when they are “conditioned” or “trained.” I have had them in my home as a child, played with them, eaten with them, even held them and tried to reassure them when they woke up scared and screaming.
Who are these men who shop around and take advantage of women and girls who have been trafficked? I used to wonder that too, and to a large part I still do. And what part of them is so broken and sick, that they would take advantage and exploit others? But they may not be who you think.
They are men like my ex. My ex was well educated, professional, came from a “good” catholic family…looked great on paper. But he shopped on Craig’s list for prostitutes, went to strip clubs to find “dates” and knew that many of the girls in the ads were under age, but did not care. Even if all the girls happened to be of age (which is doubtful), he was still contributing to an industry that perpetuates human sex trafficking…He took pictures and videos of them naked and sent them around to his friends. He volunteered as a career coach, and often worked with desperate unemployed women, so he would be in a position of power. And even now, at age 50, still brags about having 18 and 19 year-old teenagers that come to his house…But you would never know any of this to look at him. Or if you met him at work. Or at a social function. Or even on a dating site.
I mention this because it shows how bad and widespread the problem is. It is not just creepy men in back alleys with slicked back hair that look like they could sell you a horrible used car. It could be anyone. In any city, in any industry, in any socioeconomic level and any education level. They can seem charming or harmless but these men often lead double lives. The reason why human trafficking is such a problem, is because there is such a huge demand for it. And it is not just in other countries. My ex lived with me. This man was in my house. It hits close to home, because he was in my home.
Several years ago Dateline had a series called “How to Catch a Predator” that shocked the nation. How many men were out there looking to hook up with under age kids? How many men did they catch? Many. And still not enough. They were doctors, lawyers, nurses, teachers, mechanics, father’s, business men, firemen, some unemployed..some married, some single, some younger, some older And show after show, these sexual predators would take the bait.
Now, those clients have simply moved to another supplier. But it’s not just girls below 18 that are being trafficked, there are women of every age. Because human traffickers have figured out that sex sells and the age doesn’t really matter. Out of the 6,000 victims of human sex trafficking that Ashton’s company has saved, only 2,000 of those were minors. That means 4,000 of the victims were prostitutes above the age of 18. Children get the biggest spotlight (and they should) but it is a problem that does not end once a girl turns 18.
I think that it’s wonderful that celebrities are bringing attention to, creating dialog and helping victims of human trafficking. It is truly a worthy cause. For an industry that is known for being superficial, it is good to see so many rolling up their sleeves. It is good to see this topic get so much attention, because even one victim is too many.
Ashton Kutcher’s speech is below and his organization is called Thorn: https://www.wearethorn.org/
This is a local agency that helps victims: https://www.unodc.org/blueheart/index.html
And this is the movie that my friend produced about human trafficking: http://www.cagednomoremovie.com/