“Slave traffickers around the world have rediscovered how profitable it is to buy and sell people. Women are lured into modern-day slavery, hoping for a better life. They could all be your sister, or your best friend, or . . . your daughter. . . . Modern slavery exists only because we choose to ignore it.” Now, that probably sounds to you like a quote from Ambassador Miller, who is the director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons—but he is not the one who said it. Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino did.
This isn’t another example, however, of a celebrity cause of the day. The quotation comes from Sorvino’s character in the Lifetime Channel’s miniseries called Human Trafficking. Sorvino plays a New York detective working to bust an international sex-trafficking ring.
Also starring Donald Sutherland as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, the show Human Trafficking “reflects a harsh, cold reality of how women and young girls across the globe are being bought and sold as sexual slaves,” according to Lifetime’s website, “some lured . . . by ‘mail-order bride’ ads.” The miniseries airs tonight and tomorrow at 9:00 P.M. Eastern time. Now, I haven’t seen the series, so I cannot speak for its quality or its suitability for the family. But at the least, Lifetime is generating a much-needed dialogue.
In the preview, Sorvino’s character quotes the Thirteenth Amendment—“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude . . . shall exist within the United States”—while images of victims cross the screen: students lured into what they think is “modeling” only to be forced into prostitution; young prostitutes brought in for the entertainment of rich male partiers; a mother blackmailed into prostitution when her three-year-old is kidnapped. These vignettes are based on true stories that the screenwriters learned about from government officials.
The series Human Trafficking makes a point of showing the presence of sex slavery right here in the United States—and it is not fiction. Just this month, the Justice Department indicted Jaron Brice for “his illegal sex trafficking operation that involved the prostitution and sexual assault of females as young as 14 years old.”
For too long, the evil of sexual slavery has continued “out of sight, out of mind”—not any more. President Bush has spoken out on this, and our Wilberforce Forum staff has worked with senators and congressmen in the passage of the sexual trafficking act now being used to crack down on this. And now, of all things, primetime television is shining a light into the dark corners of our communities. The Lifetime Channel’s website provides viewers a wealth of information, including highlights of International Justice Mission’s work in rescuing victims, and practical ideas for what citizens can do. And visit BreakPoint.org for links to this and more information.
“An ounce of cocaine—you can only sell it once,” says Sutherland’s character. “A woman or a child: You can sell them . . . every day over and over and over again. The markup is immeasurable. Human trafficking, ladies and gentleman, is the business of the future.” Sutherland’s character is right. But it doesn’t have to be if we Christians work, as we are doing here at “BreakPoint,” to get our government to enforce the laws.
Today’s BreakPoint offer: See BreakPoint’s fact sheet on the problem of sex trafficking.
Learn more about International Justice Mission and how you can support its work.
See the Lifetime Channel’s page on Human Trafficking for more information, including a discussion guide and practical ideas for what citizens can do to make a difference.
Kate Arthur, “Lifetime’s Place Is in the House (and Senate),” New York Times, 16 October 2005.
David Blum, “Finally, an Untold Story,” New YorkSun, 18 October 2005.
“The Link between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking,” U.S. Department of State, 24 November 2004.
“Federal Grand Jury indicts District man for interstate sex trafficking and rape of children and adult females,” U.S. Department of Justice press release, 5 October 2005.
Bay Fang, “Young Lives for Sale,” U.S.News and World Report, 24 October 2005.
Read about the Close to Home episode titled “Suburban Prostitution.”
Also see BreakPoint’s research page on sex trafficking and slavery.