Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sex Trafficking: What Do You Really Know?

We know sex trafficking is something that happens, but it happens in other countries--maybe Thailand, Vietnam or Eastern Europe--not in our own backyard, right?

Tonight The Body Shop (as a part of their ongoing campaign Stop Sex Trafficking of Children & Young People) & ECPAT (End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) hosted a screening of "Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America" by filmmaker Libby Spears. "Playground" unearths the story of children who are sexually exploited everyday in the US. They're abused, manipulated into selling their bodies and eventually lost in the system. Through her research, Spears discovered the story of Michelle, an 11 year-old (ELEVEN!) who was picked up in Portland for prostitution. In her search for Michelle's fate, Spears delivers a film that cuts to the core of American society, sexualization and child protection.

Post-screening, a discussion by Libby Spears, Somaly Mam (Founder of Somaly Mam Foundation and AFESIP), Carol Smolenski (Executive Director of ECPAT-USA) and Shelley Simmons (Director, Brand Communications & Values, The Body Shop) brought up some amazing points:

*This is happening now!
*Awareness is the key: talk about it, tell friends, talk to children about sex
* Does the media deepen the idea that a woman's value is through her body? (Cases in point: American Apparel ads, the recent Terry Richardson controversy).

What can you do to help?

Visit playgroundproject.com, watch the trailer and spread the word!
Visit ecpatusa.org
Buy The Body Shop's Soft Hands Kind Heart hand cream. $6 of the $10 price is donated directly to ECPAT. Visit thebodyshop.com/stop for more information on their campaign and to purchase the hand cream.

(images via playgroundproject.com and The Body Shop)

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