Sunday, January 8, 2012

Seasons in Hell: The Brutality of America’s Modern Day Slave Trade

Cold indifference to the plight of these women and children is what makes this exploitation possible.

Nineteen-year-old Carina Saunders of Mustang, Oklahoma, was reported missing on September 28 of 2011 though investigators found reports of people seeing her alive and well in early October. On October 13, animal welfare workers looking for feral cats found the decapitated and mutilated body of Carina in a duffel bag behind a grocery store. It is believed the corpse was there several days before the gruesome discovery. Police had to initially look at her tattoos to determine an identity.
Authorities at first focused on a young “Juggalo” named Cody Perez, a violent ex-con who had recently pawned his set of chef’s knives and fled the area. After all, a brutal killing by a fan of the band Insane Clown Posse would just be another crime in a long list of sensational stories involving the group. But police cleared Perez after a nine week investigation with dozens of witnesses uncovered a crime that seemed to come straight out of a horror movie by a group of criminals most Americans thought were long extinct — slavers. We use the term “human traffickers” now, which sounds much more modern and urbane — as if the victims are willing cargo on some underground railroad. But the reality is that America’s modern day slave trade is as barbaric and brutal as slavery was before emancipation.
During the investigation into Carina’s death, a 20-year-old woman — who by some accounts may be a prostitute or a madam — came forward to tell a tale so horrific that most would discount it as fantasy if not for the confessions that followed. She related how a drug dealer named Jimmy Lee Massey with ties to a gang that sold both drugs and slaves kidnapped her from a residence and took her to an abandoned building. There he restrained her while a still undisclosed number of people, including a man named Francisco Gomez, tortured and murdered Carina Saunders. The witness, who police are not naming because of what they perceive as very real threats to her life, reported that Massey forced her to watch the entire murder as a message to her and other women of what would happen to those who didn’t cooperate with the gang.
A press conference held by Police Chief Phil Cole revealed even more disturbing details. The criminal organization Massey and Gomez were involved with has several Mexican nationals as members, indicating a transnational connection. The investigation led to multiple arrests for various crimes, but police have yet to apprehend everyone they know is involved in the gang. But most disturbing of all was the fact that Carina was simply a victim of opportunity.
The witness didn’t know Carina, although both women knew Massey causally. Carina was known to be a drug user – including hard drugs like meth and coke — but police say she wasn’t otherwise involved in any criminal activity. Since Massey was a dealer, it’s likely he kidnapped her while she was buying; she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It is a story as horrific as it is common. These gangs lurk in the shadows of our cities, using the drug trade to help run the more lucrative and dangerous sex slave rings that are ubiquitous in any major metro area. Often the dealers recruit victims after hooking them on hard drugs, but it is far more common that known drug routes are used to transport illegal aliens into the country. Those illegals are billed exorbitant amounts for the trip which they can never hope to pay off and are given the option of “working” off their debts. For women and children, this means forced prostitution; for men, it is sometimes literal slave labor.
In Oklahoma, there are whispers that this gang is responsible for more than just Carina Saunders’ death. Nineteen-year-old Kelsey Bransby was found murdered on October 27. She had attended the same high school as Carina and had similar drug problems, but friends say she had gotten clean and was trying to leave that life behind. After that decision she was shot in the face in her own apartment.
Seventeen-year-old Alina Fitzpatrick’s nude body was found dumped on a rural Oklahoma City property. Alina had been home schooled because of bullying, and had complained prior to her disappearance that a “suspicious” man had been following her and had somehow gotten her cell phone number. The last person to see her alive was a friend who had given her a ride to an apartment that Alina was vague about who lived there. Pretty and blonde, Alina looked much younger than she was and some speculate she was targeted by traffickers.
Oklahoma, however, is not the only place where modern day slavers kidnap and pimp out women and children.
Forty-one-year-old Maurice Lerome Smith was just sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for pimping out a 17-year-old girl on Craigslist in the San Diego area. Smith promised the girl a job at a window washing company but then forced her into prostitution and set her nightly quota at $1,200. He had previously spent time in prison for trying to kidnap and prostitute a 13-year-old girl.
Twenty-four-year-old Walter Woods forced a mentally disabled 18-year-old into prostitution in Kent, Washington. He had a previous record of “luring children” and according to his victim, Woods had several girls that worked for him but they were now “with another pimp,” meaning he sold them.
A woman named Satoria Youngblood was found in Flint, Michigan, pimping out teens and in possession of child pornography. She had been busted in Utah for the same charges just months before being caught in Michigan. She and her associates are believed to travel the country exploiting children for sex, using drugs and violence as leverage.
At Occupy New Hampshire, a woman named Justina Jensen picked up a 16-year-old runaway and began selling the girl online. When she was arrested it was announced that Jensen had faced similar charges in her native New York.
One thing that’s missed in many of these lurid stories is that prior to being caught, many of these modern day slave traders have forced women and children to have sex with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of men. Men who know these women aren’t willing, men who know these children are being robbed of their innocence. But they purchase them, and rape them, and move on without a care in the world.
That cold indifference to the plight of these women and children — these modern day slaves — is what makes this exploitation possible. It is not just the depravity of Jimmy Massey, Francisco Gomez, and their gang that murdered Carina Saunders; the apathy of the American public was an accessory in this crime. Heedless of the brutality in our midst, we float aimlessly through our vices, gulping down the “terrific mouthfuls of poison” Rimbaud wrote of in Night in Hell. We condemn thousands to season after season in Hell lest we confront our own demons and be forced to answer for our sins.
Rob Taylor blogs about crime, culture and politics at Greenville Dragnet.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sex trafficking strikes closer to home than thought 

By S.M. Berg

A bed, a teddy bear, and a roll of paper towels are the only contents of a closet-sized room where a trafficked 13-year-old girl was sold for sex by pimps to 20-30 men a day.

On Nov. 5, 2003, a woman taken from the Lloyd Center shopping mall was found to have been drugged awake for three straight days of sexual slavery by traffickers in Vancouver, Canada.

Traffickers forced three dozen Mexican men and boys recruited in Arizona to work 60 hours a week on farms near Buffalo, N.Y. for $30 a week.

These are a small sampling of stories relayed Oct. 4 during an educational forum on human trafficking convened by The Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] and The Protection Project of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. About 70 local social service, healthcare, law enforcement, and human rights professionals attended the daylong conference at the Benson Hotel to launch the new HHS Rescue and Restore anti-trafficking program.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 [TVPA] was the first comprehensive federal U.S. law addressing human trafficking with a plan for ending what is often referred to as modern slavery. Part of TVPA charged federal health service providers with finding victims and offering them benefits provided by the new law, but despite their outreach efforts it’s estimated less than one percent of victims came forward for assistance. In 2003, TVPA was reauthorized with more extensive amendments, and the Rescue and Restore program was created to increase public awareness about the horrors of human trafficking, a factor which posed a serious barrier to successfully identifying and assisting victims. With CIA estimates that 500,000 victims of trafficking are brought into the United States and the United Nations claiming 4 million people are trafficked worldwide annually, most of us have likely encountered a trafficked person at some point and not known it.

So where are these women, men and children who have been forced to endure slave-like conditions and where can we find them in Portland? Despite 33 percent of the opening anecdotes being about men and boys trafficked for labor, only 20 percent of trafficking is of males and less than half of all trafficking is for labor. Considering 75 percent of female victims are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation, a boom industry in Portland, it was rightly stated by speaker Mohamed Y. Mattar that, “too many people in this country do not understand the link between prostitution and crime, between prostitution and AIDS, between prostitution and trafficking.”

Mattar is an Adjunct Professor of Law and Co-Director of The Protection Project of the Foreign Policy Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he is quick to implicate sexually oriented businesses in the multiple human rights offenses that surround human trafficking. “In fact, in most cases women are trafficked in this country to work in strip clubs, massage parlors and other sexually oriented establishments that are used as fronts for prostitution and rely on public misconceptions that such activities are harmless expressions of adult sexuality.”

When Mattar recounted that Portland’s Broadway Massage was closed for sexual exploitation and prostitution, Officer Greg Duvic of the Portland Police Vice Division offered, “Every escort agency, every massage business we have ever investigated has turned out to be a front for prostitution.” Duvic assisted with an undercover effort to expose the so-called “escort” ads in the back of Portland’s alternative weekly papers for the illegal prostitution they obviously are. The sting operation definitively identified at least 80 percent of escort ads were for prostitution, and as Duvic, a seven-year veteran of the vice division, added, “The other 20 percent just took the money and left.” He mentioned what it took to dislodge his own misconceptions about the harmlessness of sexual capitalism, “When I first started as a cop many years ago I thought prostitution was not a big deal, that the girls were making good money and chose to be there. Now I know it’s an evil, horrible crime, the worst destruction that can happen to a person.” He estimates there are at least 2,000 adult women currently being prostituted in Portland, a destination stop on an organized crime circuit that moves women and children up and down the west coast.

The prevalence of interstate trafficking as evidenced by large networks of organized crime underscores that the term trafficking does not only apply to foreign citizens coerced, forced or frauded into prostitution but also to U.S. citizens similarly exploited. Most U.S. state prostitution laws treat prostituted people as criminals. They are arrested more often than the pimps and johns who demand sexual servitude from these vulnerable populations, despite the Department of Justice’s 2003 finding that the average age of entry into the U.S. sex industry is 13. New amendments in the reauthorized TVPA reclassify prostituted people as victims of sexual exploitation and provide an outline for administering assistance, but meeting the conditions for assistance can still let many sexually brutalized victims fall through the cracks.

Brian Willis of ECPAT-USA (Ending Child Prostitution, Child Pornography, and trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes-USA) gave the following example of how the best laws against sexual slavery are inadequate if public perception of prostitution doesn’t change. A brothel in Queens could be raided and a 10-year-old prostituted child from Honduras can be given federal assistance while a 10-year-old prostituted child from Brooklyn is sent to jail.

It sounds too unbelievable to be true, but as New York Times writer Leslie Kaufman revealed in a Sept. 15 article, a 12-year-old prostituted child was sentenced to a secure juvenile detention center by a Bronx Family Court judge who said she needed to get “proper moral principles.’’ Well-intentioned laws are not enough, and changing pervasive public myths that maintain prostitution is a choice and is driven by willing sex workers is crucial to ending the abuses of sex trafficking. The sex industry deliberately hides the truth that the true cause of sex trafficking is not the free choice of prostitutes but men’s demand for and sense of entitlement to prostituted bodies, usually those of young girls and women.

Says Willis, “Decreasing men’s demand for bodies to sexually abuse needs to become a larger part of the Rescue and Restore strategy.”

Focusing on demand reduction is a position Patricia Barrera feels adamant about. As an advocate for prostituted people for more than a decade and Director of Community Education for the Lola Greene Baldwin Foundation, a Portland nonprofit organization assisting survivors of the sex industry, Barrera couldn’t agree more. “For far too long, men have gotten away with believing they could buy women and children with impunity. Those days must come to a close. We need incarceration, certainly, and we also need intensive and extensive diversion programs and treatment programs for this population of sex offenders. And we better do it quick, because people are literally dying from their behavior.”

Small Voices: The Story Behind the Film

by Heather E. Connell
EDITOR'S NOTE: Small Voices: The Stories of Cambodia's Children is a documentary produced and directed by CCC member and volunteer, Heather Connell. Member-generated material that forwards pro-social action can be spotlighted in (it) magazine -- whether it is a PSA, a full-length documentary, an article or photo essay, we encourage you to submit story ideas that help fuel people's passion to make a difference. Please enjoy this background essay on Heather's own passion project.

It was well over 100 degrees with 100% humidity the morning I arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in early March of 2006. Despite the fact my photographer Theresa and I had just spent a VERY long 24 hours of travel time crammed into the most decrepit airplane ever -- I was feeling energized. After a year's worth of pre-production, I was finally ready to begin filming on my documentary Small Voices: The Stories Of Cambodia's Children, an in depth examination of the struggles of the street and garbage dump children who live and work in a society that has largely forgotten them.

I couldn't wait to get started -- as we took a taxi to our hotel on the Tonle Sap River, I begin planning how I would find the street children. Where did they hang out? What part of the city did they live and beg? I decided I would spend that first day speaking to people and finding where these children were so I could begin my work. First, I decided to walk from our hotel to a nearby store to buy some bottled water. 
In those three dusty, grimy blocks, children and beggars besieged me. A sickly woman with a naked baby held her hand out from where she sat looking up at me from the curb. Poverty was everywhere and I'd only gone three blocks. I realized I didn't have to search for what I was looking for. All I had to do was open my eyes. I have since realized that this is a concept we should all pay more attention too. If we all take the time to just open our eyes to what is going on in the world around us and in our own backyard, what a difference we could make.

How I found myself in Cambodia to begin with was a journey in itself that was much longer than a year in the making. I had moved to Los Angeles eight years ago with vague ideas of finding fame and fortune as a storyteller. Shortly after I arrived, the writer's guild went on strike and I began looking for other ways to stay creative. Without having the first clue about what I was doing, I decided to make a short film. While the film wasn't exactly a masterpiece, I become hooked on the idea of using visual media to raise awareness. Our collective attention span as a society is fairly short and the idea that film could be used a way to excite people about social issues and social awareness was very compelling. I founded Displaced Yankee Productions with that basic principal as a platform.

Several years later, I had grown quite a bit as a filmmaker and felt I was ready to expand my horizons beyond short film and branch into features. Documentary storytelling -- about real lives and events -- was a natural progression for me. There are literally thousands of stories just waiting to be told. I needed to find a niche that matched my passions. Children's issues have always been something that I have connected with on a personal level. 
How the crises of poverty, health care, environment and education affect our children globally is of high importance to me. I was also interested in countries that had recently suffered genocides and how that had effected the subsequent generation of children. Cambodia was on a short list, but Darfur was top of my list. Then fate stepped in and planted me firmly on the path toward Cambodia.

I attended the premiere of The Hotel Rwanda and found myself at the typical Hollywood after party face to face with Angelina Jolie. Anyone in the industry knows, you only get these kinds of opportunities once. I knew she was passionate about the issues in Cambodia, so the writer in me took over and I pitched her out of thin air on the Cambodian documentary I was already working on. The next morning, with her contact information in hand, I was frantically writing a proposal for my "current" project. While she ultimately did not become involved with the film, as soon as I really started to dive into the issues, I found my passion for it. I realized how off the map Cambodia was for most people. I would talk about my project with strangers and friends alike and many of them didn't even know Cambodia has suffered genocide or that is was in Southeast Asia. Often, people would tell me how wonderful it was I was going to Africa. In fact, most of them only knew that Tomb Raider had been filmed there. I realized I had found a story that needed to be told.

A year later, I was wondering if I had taken on more than I could handle emotionally. I had been there less then a day and was already overwhelmed by the problems. Worn down and hungry, Theresa and I had collapsed into chairs at an outdoor restaurant to rest and refuel. The food was wonderful, but it was hard keeping our appetites and our composure when confronted by the scores of hungry children trying to catch our eye. What do you do? Guilt, sadness, and anger over the situation...then a boy of about eight appeared next to me. He didn't want to be seen by the police lingering near the entrance, so he squatted down between two large potted plants next to my chair and looked up at us with big sad eyes. He pointed to my plate and then to his mouth, pleading. I didn't know the words, but I understood the language. It was heartbreaking. I palmed some vegetables into his hand and he shoved them into his mouth and scampered off. Theresa and I looked at our plates of food and wanted none of it. We continued to pick away. I was distracted and frustrated. Faced with something like that, how much difference does all my good intentions make? How much change can I really effect and does it really help? Certainly that boy cared nothing for documentaries. All he wanted was a bite to eat. It gave me a lot to think about.

Several days later, I found myself at Stung Meanchy, the city's garbage dump. I thought I was prepared for this. I really did. After all, I have read about it, heard about it, even seen pictures of it. This is why I'm here. But I was utterly unprepared for the reality of the dump.
A heavy haze of smoke hung over acres upon acres of smoldering garbage. The landfill was enormous, stretching as far as the eye could see. Hundreds of people are picking through the refuse. The sting of the smoke in our eyes is nothing compared to the rotting, cloying smell. Standing in the dump are make-shift shelters -- homes --for these desperately poor people. The conditions are not fit for any human being, let alone for children. Dozens and dozens and dozens of them. While some thankfully wore rubber boots, others were barefoot. Massive dump trucks and backhoes moved with surprising speed through the throngs of people, digging and dumping piles of fresh garbage. The children worked diligently and for the most part, silently. A new truck means new opportunity and as soon as one appears, everyone crowds for it -- so close it is easy to see how someone could be run over or buried in the rubble. I didn't know where to focus. The flies swarmed around me and the smoke filled my eyes. I tried not to breathe. There is another child picking through molded and rotten food. There is one wrapping himself in a piece of old carpet he has hooked out of the pile. An intelligent young man who spoke excellent English struck up a conversation with Theresa. He wanted to know if she knows why they are here, why they live and work here and where they come from. He was the picture of lost potential. Given just a fraction of an opportunity, imagine what these kids could accomplish or do.

I knew in that moment that I would do whatever it took to see this project through and raise up the voices of children like that young man in the dump. Over the course of three years as I struggled with finding the resources and the emotional toll of making the project -- and the guilt of my own privilege, I would think of the children I had met, their quiet struggle and innate goodness while facing a bleak and uncertain future -- and I would be reinvigorated. The challenges I face would suddenly seem insignificant and trite when compared to the life of a boy in the dump who buries dead babies he finds to pay them respect. It really puts things in perspective.

Cambodia continues to be one of the poorest countries in Asia, with nearly half of the population under the age of 18. Only 1.2% of the population goes on to achieve higher education. There is a growing health crisis, with Hepatitis A & B spreading at an alarming rate. With no access to education, clean water and health care, the situation for the street and garbage children of Cambodia can seem overwhelming and bleak. But in the course of this project, I have come to realize that it is impossible as an individual to change the big picture. However, the changes we can effect on an individual level will be the catalyst that turns the tide. 

It is often difficult to watch documentaries like Small Voices and 
walk away without wanting to do something. But often the problems 
seem so overpowering; it is an easy excuse for us to do nothing, 
thinking that it will not actually make a difference. But a child
does not know they are a drop in the bucket. Whether that 
child in need is in Cambodia, Africa, or East Los Angeles - our 
obligation is the same. All we need to do is open our eyes.

Heather's film won multiple festival awards, and is now available on DVD through Cinema Libre Studios. See sidebar above to order now!

Robert Marcarelli, an over twenty year award-winning filmmaker, has extensive experience in the film and television industries. This combined with his wide-ranging international relief work provides him with a unique skill set in bringing compelling stories to the screen. He has been awarded the highest honor, the Order of Merit and Grand Commander, for his humanitarian service by the Knights Templar.

• 2011 “Knights of the Order” Director/Producer. Documentary. Filmed on location at WestPoint, NY and in Jerusalem, this film tells both ancient and modern tales of the Knights and Dames Templar.

• 2010 “Not For Sale II: Join the Fight” Producer/Director Documentary. The Battle against human trafficking continues. This 30 minute, updated version of “Not For Sale…the Documentary” focuses on 5 heroes who are rescuing victims and fighting to see that the traffickers are prosecuted.

• 2010 “Health Outreach to the Middle East” Producer/Director. Documentary. Filmed on location in Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. Christian Arab-American doctors selflessly support medical clinics and hospitals in the Middle East and travel there to bring their much-needed expertise to the region.

• 2009 “Awakening Cambodia” Producer/Director Documentary. Filmed on location in Cambodia. This exciting film chronicles the remarkable story of two missionaries, who in little over a decade have started more than 3000 churches and over 100 church orphan homes.

• 2008 “Facing Extinction: Christians in Iraq” Director/Producer. Documentary. The heart wrenching story of the ancient community that is about to be wiped off the planet. Filmed on location in Iraq, Jordan, and Washington DC

• 2007 “Not For Sale…the Documentary” Director/Producer. Documentary. Compelling Worldwide Documentary on Slavery/Human Trafficking. Based on the book, Not For Sale by David Batstone

• 2002 “The Long Ride Home” Director/Producer Feature Film
Starring: Randy Travis, Eric Roberts, Ernest Borgnine, and Garry Marshall

• 1991 "An Empire Conquered" Director/ Exec. Producer Documentary
Discovery Channel; Starring Joseph Campanella


It seems unbelievable.  It conflicts with our deepest sense of what is possible in
our country and our communities.  Legal slavery was abolished in the United
States in 1865, yet now, once again, thousands of men, women and children
across the U.S. are held against their wills through brutal violence and threats.

They are forced to work and are paid nothing.  This time, comprehensive laws are
already in place, but protection is simply not reaching many of those who need
assistance.  The U.S. government estimates that between 15,000 and 18,000
people are trafficked into the country each year.  Once inside the U.S., their slavery takes place out of sight, often in isolated farms, in red-light areas, inside
suburban homes and in concealed factories.

In Dreams Die Hard, Maria, “Miguel,” and Rose explain how they were trafficked
into slavery in America, what it took to get their freedom, and their hopes for the
future.  The film gives ideas about how law enforcement officers, social service
workers, and above all, citizens can reach out to trafficking victims to remove
them from slavery, give them access to justice, and restore their dignity and


Although some of those in slavery are U.S. citizens, most have been trafficked
into the country from Asia, South and Central America, Russia, Eastern Europe,
and parts of Africa.  They have often left regions that have collapsed economies,
and where there is a lack of opportunities for earning a living and education.

They often come to the U.S. because someone approaches them and offers a better life; a chance at a steady job so they can send money home.

Maria came as a legal resident with her family, and at 15, she wanted to contribute to the household income; “Miguel” came to do agricultural work, to pay for
treatment for his six year old son who had cancer; and Rose was promised an
American education in return for babysitting.  But once separated from their
families and in a foreign country, the violence and coercion began.

Some traffickers simply keep their victims under lock and key, but more often
they use a combination of techniques, including:

• Debt bondage: “Miguel” faced beatings and death threats if he tried to leave
the farm without paying back his “transportation costs.”  On payday, the
slaveholders subtracted inflated charges for rent and transportation, leaving
him just enough to buy food.

Dreams Die Hard 
Study Guide
February 2006

 Physical abuse: Maria was terrorized: raped, beaten and abused.  “Miguel”
saw other farm workers with appalling injuries because they had attempted to
escape. Starvation, confinement, and other forms of violence are used—especially in the early stages of victimization—to traumatize the individual and
make them easier to control.

Psychological manipulation and threats to family:  The man who held Maria
captive said he was a 'brujo' or witch, who could read her mind and would kill
her family if she tried to leave the house.  Other women in sexual slavery are
controlled through forced drug use and threats of being shamed in home

Other techniques include

  • isolation from the public, 
  • confiscation of passports and visas, and 
  • telling victims they will be put in prison if they contact the authorities.


Slaves are forced to work as domestic servants, as migrant agricultural laborers,
as prostitutes and in sex shows and pornography, as sweatshop workers, and in
service industries such as food services and landscaping.  Working whatever
hours are demanded, many of these slaves are living in conditions unimaginable
in the U.S. today. “Miguel” was confined in a building that was hidden in plain
sight between a holiday resort and a Florida highway and describes sleeping in
cramped living quarters, six men to a room.

Slavery in prostitution and sex services:  Forced prostitution and commercial
sexual exploitation of children are part of the “sex markets” in the U.S., that are
often controlled by organized crime networks.  Sex traffickers usually recruit victims of their own nationality or ethnic background.  Migrant smuggling enterprises run by Asian, Mexican, and Eastern European organized crime networks feed victims into both sex slavery and other kinds of forced labor.

The man who held Maria was found to have a history of buying young girls from Mexico and trading them in when they turned 20.

Domestic slavery:  Every year, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals bring thousands
of domestic workers into the country, and some of them suffer abuse.  Domestic
workers have few legal protections, and because their work goes on in private
homes, their conditions are rarely monitored.  This makes it easy for domestic
workers to be turned into slaves.

Agricultural slavery:  Farm workers, especially migrant workers, are particularly
vulnerable to forced labor.  Legal protections for all agricultural workers are weak,
and there is little monitoring of work conditions.  Remote locations and insulation
of immigrant work crews from the wider community add to their precarious circumstance to create conditions in which slavery can thrive.


The experience of being trafficked can end in many ways:

• Trafficking victims are known to have died: for example, when a fire sweeps
the house where they are locked in, in accidents on building sites, of disease
in rural work camps, and by being murdered by their exploiters.

• Others are discarded when, through injury or illness, they become useless to
their exploiter. For women forced into prostitution this may happen at the onset of HIV infection.

• Some trafficking victims escape. When they run away their situation is very
unstable, like Rose who found herself alone in a parking lot with no jacket and
no money. They are at the mercy of whomever they encounter. Fortunately in
Rose’s case she knew of just one person who could help her and she managed
to get in touch with him.

• When they turn to officials, trafficking victims may get harsh treatment if the
police officer or immigration staff regards the escaped victim as an illegal immigrant. Although some law enforcement officials have immediately rescued
and protected people in slavery, there have been tragic situations where police simply failed to recognize slavery.  Proper training is crucial.

• Many of those who escape slavery in the U.S. do so because a stranger takes
an interest and notices that something is wrong.  The concerned person may
call the police or a trafficking hotline or contact a local social service agency.

• Social service organizations like those featured in this film are vital in the rescue of victims and in their struggle for justice.  These included: Casa of Maryland, the Coalition for Immokalee Workers in Florida, and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking in California.


The Trafficking Victims Protection Act 2000 enables survivors to apply for a special “T-visa,” to be able to stay in the U.S. while they rebuild their lives and seek

First, trafficking victims need to be certified by the Department of Health
and Human Services (DHHS) to say that they have been trafficked and are willing
to assist with prosecuting their traffickers.  Then they can claim important federally funded services: housing assistance, food, income, employment assistance,
English language training, health care, and counseling.  (See DHHS website on
assistance available:


Crisis House: The film mentions the coalition of over 40 agencies working in the
San Diego area against cross-border trafficking.  Crisis House, who partnered in
the making of this film, is an active member of that coalition. Crisis House is a
non-profit social service organization, which helps disenfranchised individuals and
families overcome barriers to self-sufficiency.  Their Project Safe Haven program
is designed to specifically address the needs of people who have been trafficked.

Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST):  Since 1998, CAST has assisted more than 200 victims of trafficking.  As well as sheltering and assisting
trafficking victims, CAST partners with law enforcement and government agencies to prosecute traffickers.  CAST provides training and outreach to other
groups working against trafficking, as well as affected communities and the general public.  In 2005, they are conducting a nationwide training program in 23
cities targeting non-profits, law enforcement, and government agencies. Website:

Coalition for Immokalee Workers (CIW):  Begun in 1993, CIW is a communitybased organization whose members are largely Latino, Haitian, and Mayan Indian
immigrants working in low-wage jobs throughout Florida. CIW organizes for fair
wages, stronger legal action against those violating workers' rights, and the right
for workers to organize. CIW’s worker-led legal investigations have brought hundreds of people out of slavery.  CIW trains law enforcement and social service
workers in assisting people in slavery.  Its boycott of the fast food company Taco
Bell led to better wages and conditions for workers supplying the company. Website:

Casa of Maryland:  Founded in 1985, CASA of Maryland serves immigrants from
Latin America, Africa, and Asia, as well as U.S. citizens.  CASA’s legal services
program represents day-laborers, domestic employees and other vulnerable
workers whose rights are violated, including those rescued from slavery.  CASA
supports immigrant workers in crisis by assisting women to escape from abusive
situations, providing temporary shelter in private homes, and enabling them to
access social services to which they are entitled. Website:


Here are some ideas:

• In order to close down trafficking operations throughout the U.S., everyone
needs to be well informed about trafficking.  Law enforcement officers need to
know what to do when they confront slavery.  At the same time slavery is so
concealed that it requires all of us to be alert and ready to respond.

• Trafficking victims need all kinds of help to heal, rebuild their lives, and secure
justice.  To help meet these needs, in many communities, concerned individuals and organizations are coming together to form anti-trafficking task forces
including law enforcement, immigration attorneys, shelters, translators, counselors, and faith communities.  These task forces carefully plan their response
to cases of slavery, as well as undertaking targeted outreach and publicity.

• The lack of basic legal protections for domestic workers, migrant agricultural
workers, and other vulnerable workers opens the door to abuses like slavery.
They need better laws and more active enforcement of these laws.  Also, support groups of such workers can be a starting point for learning about their
rights, taking action against exploitation, and reaching out to those in slavery.

• Anti-trafficking organizations around the U.S. need more resources so they
can rescue more people and give greater assistance to trafficking survivors.


The following are some ideas on using the documentary with a group to generate

• The documentary lasts approx. 36 minutes.  Allow at least 30 minutes to discuss the documentary.

• Encourage people to make notes as they watch about particular ideas that
strike them for discussion later.

• After the film, ask people what they learned.  For example, why do people
end up in slavery? What can be done to help?  Who might be vulnerable in
your region?

• Do members of your group want to respond in some practical way?  What
ideas do they have for making responses to slavery?  Here are some ideas:
o show the film and raise awareness about modern slavery with other

o circulate the Community Member’s Guide among social service agencies,
faith groups, and immigrant communities where you live;

o find out whether there is an anti-trafficking task force in your region, and
whether effective training is taking place to prepare all the relevant organizations to work together to assist trafficking victims.  If not, approach such organizations to discuss the need for such a task force and training.

o provide funds and other resources for anti-trafficking organizations like
those featured in the film and for Free the Slaves;

o continue to learn together about other forms of slavery around the world
and in the U.S. (see resources below).

• Free the Slaves provides a range of resources and ideas for further involvement by groups and individuals in the anti-slavery movement (all available
through our website:  These include:

o Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. Kevin Bales,
President of Free the Slaves, describes modern slavery as a global phenomenon and investigates how it exists in five countries. This award winning book lifts the lid on slavery’s role in our lives.

o Community Member's Guide.  This booklet explains slavery and trafficking
in the US and around the world. There are stories of survivors and of their
rescuers, an overview of actions the government is taking, and a list of
practical steps you can take to identify and assist trafficking victims in
your region. Purchase copies or download from our website for free.

o Hidden Slaves: Forced Labor in the United States.  This report, done in
collaboration with the Human Rights Center, University of California, Berkeley examines the numbers and origins of victims and perpetrators of forced labor, as well as the industries and locations where forced labor hasbeen found in the U.S. It also explores the adequacy of the U.S. response
and makes recommendations.

o Dreams Die Hard:  36-minute DVD.  This documentary profiles several individuals who were trapped in different forms of slavery in locations across
the U.S.  Individual stories show how they were enslaved, how they
gained their freedom and their hopes today.  The stories also show how
organizations and individuals stepped in to assist them to freedom.

o Modern Slavery: 10-minute video.  This short video features stories from
Slavery: A Global Investigation (see below), and is a tool for raising
awareness about modern slavery.

o The Silent Revolution: Sankalp and the quarry slaves: 18-minute DVD.
This inspirational film follows a group of stone-breakers held in slavery
who finally win the right to run their own quarry.  Explores how people in
slavery can create their own path to freedom with support from grassroots

o Slavery: A Global Investigation.  80-minute video.  This documentary exposes cases of slavery in the rug-making sector of India, the cocoa plantations in the Ivory Coast, and the homes of diplomats in Washington, D.C.  The documentary shows how slavery fits into the global economy.

o Education pack: For use at schools and universities: Contains lesson plans
organized around the topics of modern slavery, slavery and human rights,
slavery throughout history, and debt bondage.  Downloadable from our


• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Campaign to Rescue and Restore Victims of Trafficking:

• Department of Health and Human Services Trafficking hotline for reporting
possible trafficking cases, and referring victims for support by local nonprofits and social service organizations: 888-373-7888

• Bilateral Safety Corridor Coalition:

• Freedom Network:

• Protection Project:

Free the Slaves is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to ending
slavery worldwide.  We have 501(c)3 registration as Anti-Slavery International,

Free the Slaves
1012 14th St NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-638-1865
Toll Free: 866-324-FREE
Fax: 202-638-0599
Dreams Die Hard Study Guide

Monday, January 2, 2012

Introduction to Slavery:
Free the Slaves—website
Disposable People—Chapter

Kinds of slavery:
            Bonded labor

Countries where slavery exists
            China/North Korea
            Latin America
            Middle East
            Southeast Asia—Cambodia Laos Philippines Vietnam Thailand

            The Girls of Phnom Penh
            MTV Exit
            Born into Brothels
            Human Trafficking
            Not My Life
            Total Brokenness
            Not for Sale
                  Small Voices
                  Awakening Cambodia

            Disposable People
            The Road of Lost Innocence
            A Crime so Monstrous
            God in a Brothel

            Free the Slaves: Kevin Bales
            Agape International: Don Brewster
            Love 146: Glenn Miles
            Bong Paoeun: Tim Paton
            Ratanak: Brian McConaghey
            HIS Child: WEC: Robert and Judith
            Teen Challenge: Koy Chim
            Jacob’s Well: Frank
            International Christian Assembly
            Daughters of Cambodia
            Gary and Bev Laing: Crosslands Church, Newmarket
             Compassion International
                  Michelle Tolentino: a life transformed