In honor of human trafficking awareness month, I watched part one of “Human Trafficking” last night. It follows the stories of three women/girls– a single mom in Prague, Czech Republic; a 16 year old student from Kiev, Ukraine; and a 12 year old American tourist visiting Manila, Philippines.
Helena, the single mom is courted by a handsome man and agrees to get a passport and travel to Vienna, Austria with him. Upon arrival he delivers her to the traffickers for cash and immediately leaves.
Nadia is the 16 year old student from Kiev who is recruited to come to America by an eastern European modeling agency. Her mother died several years before, and she lives in a small house with her father who doesn’t want her to leave the country. She ends up sneaking away to go with the modeling agency and its other modeling victims.
Helena arrives in New York with the modeling group, and they are taken to a strip club– their passports and papers are taken away, they are stripped down to their underclothes, and told that they have to work as sex slaves until their debt (of passports, visas, plane tickets, all with interest) are paid off. They are sent to different brothels and moved around the area fairly regularly to avoid being caught.
In Manila we see every parent’s nightmare: 12 year old Annie is snatched from her mother at the busy market, thrown into the back of a Jeep and driven away. Annie’s mother continues to work with the police to try to find her daughter, and eventually her husband has to return home to work. We get a first-hand glimpse of what we usually only hear about in the news. Annie is taken to a brothel in Manila, catering to American/European tourists. We are also introduced to a young girl who is sold by her father into the brothel– he has too many bills to pay, and he feels he has no choice but to sell her. We also see a very young boy swept away to cater to a client’s needs, and then returned to the communal bedroom beaten, bruised, and crying. All of the victims are in the same international network of sex traffickers, the head of which is in fact a rich, handsome, powerful eastern European modeling agent, who hand picked the school girls in Kiev.
The other plot line involves an up and coming cop who joins the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after she is called to the third death of a teenage Eastern European prostitute in New York. She manages to bust one brothel and free Helena– the traffickers escape and the women are brought into custody as prostitutes. Helena had been an accountant in Prague, and the modeling agent/kingpin had assigned her to keep the books before she was freed. There is a desperate race against time to ensure the safety of Helena’s young daughter in Prague as well as the safety of Helena herself since the traffickers know she is free and could incriminate them. Helena reluctantly gives up the name of the kingpin as leverage to have her daughter moved to America. She promises to give all of her information to ICE once she has her daughter, but in the holding area for the victims the other women pressure Helena not to talk. They all have family members that are actively being watched and are in danger.
This is on-again off-again available on Netflix. Check Amazon or your local library for this two part movie!
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