My Experiences Filming MSNBC’s Sex Slaves: Texas Rescue
After hundreds of emails since October 2012, too many conference calls, texts, phone calls, and meetings to count combined with endless patience and waiting TODAY is finally the day when a single email turns into a TV show. I am so honored to be a part of the amazing team that came together to produce this documentary. I so appreciate the trust of the victims we encountered, for those who even just blessed us with a moment of their time, also for the many people who will never be seen or known about that worked in anonymity with us to make this episode possible. All had the same hope, dream and motivation- to help stop this crime, to help victims and society know that help is available along with HOPE.
When asked where I wanted to film I said HOUSTON!I love Houston, I was born and raised there. When I think of home, I often think of Houston too no matter where I am living – I love the forward progress, the economy, the amazing people and things that make anything possible in Houston. That spirit known world-wide due to NASA, the oil industry, heroes like Red Adair, rapid construction and growth, the Houston Live stock Show and Rodeo to the world-class medical care of M.D. Anderson, Texas Children’s Hospital and others, the Ship Channel, the University of Houston, to Museums that combined make Houston a place exciting like no other. Even today , when I see the downtown skyline I still get chills and butterflies in my stomach from seeing all that business in one place- all the possibilities, accomplishments, and futures yet to be realized- and some lost like when I see the former Enron buildings. The skyline reminds me of the era of Urban Cowboy and how luring it was in those scenes. The place where any amount of money was possible — combined with hard-working people with earth type grit.
My Childhood in Houston
I had an amazing childhood there- we worked cattle and raised horses, drank water from a well and also participated in ice skating at the Galleria, gymnastics, field trips to the art, history, science and other museums and of course fun excursions to Galveston for fishing and beach play.When I was a teen I read Texas Monthly magazine and loved the articles about justice – especially justice after injustice.
As it would turn out Texas Monthly writer/ senior editor Mimi Swartz, would write an article about my work in 2010 , and later she wrote another article for More Magazine in 2012, which would lead to the TV show. Those articles were an amazing experience- I loved every minute of it- because it gave such a large voice to victims who so needed to be heard. Those articles also kept me encouraged when it seemed as though the odds were against my clients and my work. As time progressed it proved that those cases did resolve in favor of the victims- I love the media!!!
So all to sum up these experiences and bring them to current time- I love Houston and have had my childhood dreams realized there- however when working there in 2004- 2005 I saw Houston as I had never seen it before. My beloved home town had a very dark underside. I was hired to help victims in Houston and to expand efforts to engage law enforcement and others to combat trafficking and protect victims under the TRAFFICKING VICTIMS PROTECTION ACT OF 2000. I am a bit naive, hard-headed, loyal and dedicated to justice so even though that job has ended my promise has not- I have worked all these years to combat this dark trade in souls so that Houston can the city that is free of this exploitation- or at least become unwelcoming to the traffickers and safer for the victims.
I learned that this trade is intertwined with the economy and is known about supported and condoned by many who others may think are respectable. Some of Houston’s wealthy business people and leaders are a part of this horrible scheme. Whether benefiting directly, indirectly or just apathetic the result is the same- the victims you see on our show are suffering for the purposes of money, greed, and power- not the victims’ power but others’ power over them.
I hope this encourages the viewers to take a look at their communities and work to make them safer for victims and hostile to traffickers.
Sex Slaves: Texas Rescue Recap
While filming, Dottie Laster and her team were able to make contact with several victims. Dangerously waiting are the pimp, or trafficker, anticipating delivery of money. Assuring they are paid exactly what’s expected before leaving the hotel room, often funded out of Laster’s own pocket, she lets the victims know that she is there to help, trying to gain their confidence, and to come up with a plan of escape, if the victim chooses to do so.
Viewers of MSNBC’s Sex Slaves: Texas Rescue will get a glimpse of the large demand in Houston, one of the nation’s largest hubs for trafficking according to the Department of Justice. Some victims are being imported from other countries, some come on their own lured by the promises to e big money. Before long they are living a nightmare, and can’t get out.
Over the years the MSNBC documentary series has covered sex trafficking at several locations in the US, including Florida’s Magic Kingdom, Chicago, Oakland, Detroit, and the suburbs of any town in America. Topics surrounding human trafficking and prostitution have also been exposed; the men who buy, massage parlors, and victims who are branded by tattoos.
Dottie Laster heads up the anti-trafficking program, Save One Soul (SOS), for Bernardo Kohler Center. She is accredited to practice immigration law through her affiliation with the organization. The Anti-Trafficking program seeks to raise awareness and take advantage of the underutilized number of T-visas. Building on successful services to trafficked victims, the goal is to provide training and consultation to other organizations seeing these victims.
A weekly Co-Host on the nationally syndicated radio show, The Roth Show, Laster presents discussion and guests to speak out about a variety of controversial subjects, as well as the anti-human trafficking efforts of the Bernardo Kohler Center.
Dottie Laster has spent over 10 years in the effort of the anti-human trafficking movement nationally, and in her home state of Texas. She is the co-founder of the San Antonio, Texas Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the past Administrator of the Orange County, California Human Trafficking Task Force and has successfully written millions in grants to assist children and victims of human trafficking.
Laster is featured in the documentary on sex trafficking in Latin bars and cantinas, The Cantinera, and her direct rescue work is the subject of the MSNBC Documentary, Sex Slaves: Texas Rescue. She is the recipient of several human rights awards and has been featured in numerous publications including recent issues of Texas Monthly, Town Hall, and MORE
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