Rocumentary film topic goes deep

David sat quietly, almost unmoving as he watched the film ‘‘Call Plus Response.’’
A Rocumentary, the film was written and produced by a group of musicians to tell about human trafficking.
The premier showing was part of the opening of the Human Trafficking Awareness Conference at Oral Roberts University.
Song lyrics told about the sex slave traffic, the labor traffic and war children, some eight years old, trained to become killers and terrorists.
Most pictures were graphic, showing clothed women and girls in squalid brothels waiting for their next customer. Faces were blurred to prevent identification when they were asked if they did ‘‘boom boom,’’ — have intercourse.
David didn’t say anything during the discussion when panelists stated that slavery in the U.S. is worse now than it was when it was ‘‘abolished’’ by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.
Instead, his attention was directed to the film showing brothels in Thailand, China, India, and other Asian-block countries.
Mark Elam, Oklahoman’s Against Trafficking Humans (O.A.T.H.), Coalition director, said most Americans are unaware that various forms of slave trafficking are going on in this country.
‘‘When mentioned, prostitution immediately comes to mind,’’ he said. But there also are labor slaves and children who are kidnapped and sold to become soldiers.
‘‘Slavery is the loss of freedom and threats of violence to deprive people of freedom,’’ said FBI Special Agent Jim Windsor. Essentially, it is work forced for the gain of someone else.
Tulsa was the center of a major labor sting when the John Pickle Company employed workers from India, then subjected them to widespread abuse, intimidation and exploitation. Church workers helped them leave the plant in early 2002.
Eventually the company was ordered to pay the men a total of $1.3 million.
Women, like the laborers, were tricked into prostitution in their native country when they are promised a better life and money to send to their families from jobs in the U.S., Windsor said. Instead, they are taken to an area where they are raped repeatedly before being told they owed thousands of dollars to the man who brought them to their destination — and that money must be repaid before they can go on to their dream job.
Their plight is similar around the world, according to one of the singers on the film.
One singer said he saw a woman trapped in a brothel, asked her to write a song and throw it out the window ‘‘to someone who cares.’’
That song told of the abuse, torture, pain and agony of being forced to ‘‘have’’ 10 men a day.
Another woman on the film said she had been a slave for six years with 10 men a day. ‘‘Do the math, she said, that is probably more than 1,000 men during that time.’’
There was no indication she had any hope of escape.
David sat quietly, listening intently.
‘‘Drug and sex trafficking rings are connected,’’ Windsor said. ‘‘Now sex trafficking is shifting from adults to children.’’
In India, girls are put in brothels and not fed until they are hungry enough to accept clients.
‘‘The Rocumentary music was an important tool in telling the story,’’ he said.
He pointed to slavery in the 19th Century in this country and noted that music was uplifting and gave hope to the enslaved.
War children are young people kidnapped from their homes, generally in Africa, and trained to become fighters and terrorists. Some were seven years old.
‘‘There is a real problem in the U.S. and Oklahoma,’’ Elam said. Efforts currently are underway to get a safe house established in Oklahoma City for those children rescued from the rings. A raid at an Oklahoma City truck stop recovered 13 children who had been brought to the site because customers had place an order.
‘‘A 21st Century abolitionist movement is needed to eradicate human trafficking,’’ he said. Effective laws need to be passed that will allow law enforcement and social service agencies to do their jobs more effectively. This is a global issue and ‘‘we are connected.’’
The cost to set people free is what was spent on Valentine’s Day last year.
Still, David remained quiet, attentive.
‘‘Sex trafficking was unknown in the U.S. until about 15 years ago,’’ Elam said.
He learned of it and domestic trafficking while attending a conference.
‘‘Human trafficking is a big problem in Oklahoma,’’ Windsor said. ‘‘I was sent to Oklahoma to work on civil rights issues and found the human trafficking issue.’’
That has since become the focus of Windsor’s work.
‘‘It took changes in the law in Texas to make it possible to effectively pursue traffickers,’’ said Sgt. Chris Burchell, a Texas Ranger. ‘‘The first laws were not what we wanted, so changes were during each legislative session. Making those changes at first was difficult, but as lawmakers began to understand the problem each change became easier.
‘‘Now it is possible to go after the johns (customers of prostitutes) so let the buyer beware,’’ Burchell said.
Myste French, a multiple needs and services for victims service provider, said knowledge and awareness is the key to countering the problem.
‘‘Even then, it is important to be careful and not do something that could harm these victims. When they are reintegrated into a community it is important to have a place for them to make the transition,’’ French said.
Many don’t have the dynamics of support around them.
French, who worked in the field of human trafficking since 2006, beginning with the Los Angeles-based Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) said they found that language often was a barrier that kept people in the program longer. In addition to cultural differences, they also have to do with their own feelings of shame and guilt.
One of the biggest challenges of understanding victims is realizing how badly their self-esteem has been damaged.
‘‘Knowledge is power,’’ Burchell said. ‘‘First, victims must be aware of their own personal safety. Girls caught in the culture are taught that a man must be with her. That is why the pimp culture uses force and coercion plus the debt bondage.’’
What happens so often is girls have a fight with mom and gets caught in the Romeo and Juliet scenario.
The aggrieved daughter logs on to the Internet and tells anyone who will listen about her plight. The man tells the girl that he loves her and after a time and establishes a relationship with her, then goes to another girl. They are in the loop and so controlled. They don’t have the liberty to walk away and tell someone about the tragedy that goes on.
One man arrested for human trafficking told authorities that ‘‘slavery goes on because you allow it.’’
David sat quietly, listening.
‘‘Victims can be identified,’’ Elam said. ‘‘For example, if a person goes to a restaurant and notices a waitress that is not speaking, looking away or otherwise inattentive, it could be the sign of a problem.’’
‘‘An infrastructure is in place that makes it possible for people to call authorities if they think there is a problem,’’ Burchell said. The national number is 888-3737-888. Callers remain anonymous and the information is sent to the agency nearest where the incident occurred.
As the film and panel discussion ended, David, one of many ORU students attending the evening lecture, talked briefly about himself.
He noted that his parents now live in another state — but as a family had immigrated to the U.S.
Many times before he left his native Russia he saw prostitutes and scenes like those in the Rocumentary.

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