Media and Human Trafficking
A dramatic shift in awareness and interest about Human Trafficking has occured in the United States.
TV Shows like The Killing, the Black List, Luther, Law and Order and many others have included human trafficking in episodes.
Many real life movies about Human Rights and freedom have been hugely successful in the recent past such as Lincoln, Mandela, 12 Years a Slave and the box office record breaker, American Sniper.
American Sniper shows the real life story of one aspect of the war in Iraq, from the Twin Towers bombing killing innocents to bullies torturing children. The audience is placed in awe of the idea of someone protecting other souls. At over $200 million dollars in box office sales we can see that our collective conscience is yearning for the stories of struggle and sacrifice for the freedom and protection of others in danger.
Since the beginning of the year I’ve had many contacts from producers and film companies that are developing projects about human trafficking. (For a glimpse of some of my past and current projects, please go to the Media page)I hope I can help answer some of the many questions my team receives. We also hope to broaden the stories to reflect what we are seeing everyday as we work in these cases from rescue to courtroom to direct victim assistance. It’s often more harsh, and beautiful, than any script could reflect. These are real life stories of human survival yearning for freedom and the opportunity to pursue their highest potential, which in many cases is what freedom means. I’ve enjoyed learning from this work what love, freedom and happiness mean. It’s taught me more about life than mere words can explain.
Here are some of the questions that are often asked and our responses:
This is such a dark subject, can we tell it without alienating the audience?
Yes, it is dark and some of the most horrible series of crimes are ALL committed upon one victim. It’s not just a single crime, but a spectrum of crimes and a climate of fear that encircles victims.
However, as with all compelling stories, the human will and spirit overcoming insurmountable obstacles moves viewers to awe and amazement. The unconditional love of putting oneself in harm’s way to protect another reaches many hearts and sparks conversations.
Aren’t you ever afraid? Do you receive threats?
Yes, we (my team) are often in danger, however, we believe that if we are feeling threatened how must the victims feel? It’s much harder to intimidate an adult woman who is surrounded by a team of professionals, media and law enforcement contacts than it is to scare a hurt teenager, or an adult struggling to protect his/her family or children.
We make ourselves a very hard target, if bad guys want to hurt us they can, however, they will lose something for their efforts. This is the point where having media helps, it’s very intimidating to the bad guys to see how big a presence we have in society.
If we were unknown, I believe we would receive more attacks.
Will the victims be willing to speak out about their experiences?
Yes, many victims have cases that need public attention. Often the victims are arrested and prosecuted for acts related to the trafficking and I’ve found that public attention helps these cases. Often it’s very difficult to get prosecution to shift from punishment to protection. The justice system has a myopic view of reality and it takes public pressure to force officials to look up and stop errant processes. This is where the media can be the difference in a victim’s life.
I often ask journalists and film makers, “Why did you get into this field?” They often say something like, “changing the world, or giving a voice to the stories that need to be told.”
Covering the story of a prosecuted trafficking victims is, in my opinion, the very reason many people chose their careers. To make a positive difference on individuals and society, protecting one victim often leads to the protection future victims. To see that society, the judicial system and bureaucrats see their roles in a story and the impact each has.
What part of this issue needs to be told?
I’ve seen stories since 2004 about the crying victim, sex trafficking of children, and a simplified version of human trafficking using images of locks and keys, bars, and handcuffs.
In my experience, the story we see everyday are not locks, keys, or bars. Those images are often why victims are not identified. Law enforcement and the community are looking for guns to the head, locked rooms and chains. What we see is more powerful than any locking device but invisible to the uninformed.
The locking device of modern slavery, or human trafficking, is the absolute inescapable tool of grooming and psychological coercion.
The example I use when speaking and training is that if you have a lock or gun all the victim needs to do is escape those and then he/she can run free screaming for help. The bad guys know this and use a different approach. They target the victim, find the weakness, exploit it and then induce trauma.
While the victim is in trauma they re-write that victim’s reality and history, and add-on sleep deprivation and fear to their tactics. There’s no need for bars or locks, the victim will not escape no matter the opportunity placed in front of them, because the psychological coercion works 24/7, anywhere, in front of anyone. This is the most difficult part of rescuing a victim or getting a person recognized as a victim. It’s a process that works on everyone, any time and anywhere.
Also, as a society, when we see horrible acts that are out of our ability to control or understand, we resort to blaming the victim. This allows us to feel safer and justifying that this will not happen to us or our loved ones. We create a clear conscience to move forward rather than stopping to help in this impossible situation. It’s a needed survival tool for society because if we didn’t have it we would be paralyzed. I’ve seen this tear families apart and have held the hands of grieving parents who are shunned by law enforcement, society, and even family, while they are screaming for help for their loved one.
I’m dealing with more U.S. citizen adults targeted while attending college, which seems to be occurring more often in the last 4-5 years. These types of cases need attention as any family sending their beloved child to college will tell you.
Forced labor is a large part of the issue of trafficking. I see domestic servants in the clutches of very wealthy and respected families, performers, laborers, restaurant workers, magazine sellers, religious groups, and other schemes that are nothing more than cons using forced labor disguised as opportunity for the victims and the purchasers of cheap labor products.
How can I help with your media project?
Laster Global Consulting can help make your projects become reality. My team has experience both in front of and behind the camera. Our contacts and access to law enforcement, survivor victims, and other key people is based on 12 years of working directly in the field and fostering trusted relationships.
We’ve worked with national and international media and film producers to create compelling stories about human trafficking. We are available to make your project go smoother, or fill in gaps that are often impossible to surmount without the help of an experienced professional team.
Refer to the Media Page for past and ongoing media projects.
For more information about how to hire Laster Global Consulting please contact:
Posted on June 20, 2015, in Human Trafficking and tagged Dottie Laster media projects, human trafficking in US, labor trafficking, Media and human trafficking, Media projects help in human trafficking, trafficking of college students. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.