Monday, February 19, 2007

A Letter from HHS: Trafficking and the Media


HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND THE MEDIA -- Lately, we've noticed an increasing number of mainstream media featuring the issue of human trafficking, from films such as Sold and Amazing Grace, to TV programs like CNN's "Invisible Chains: Sex, Work and Slavery" and the Lifetime Channel movie "Human Trafficking," and books such as Not For Sale. This burgeoning rise of media featuring human trafficking mirrors the growth of the anti-trafficking movement - as we drive awareness of the issue of human trafficking in the U.S we can all do our part to fight this horrific crime.

Each time someone is exposed to a story on human trafficking it is an opportunity - an opportunity to tell a story of survival, to educate and inform, and to alert the public to Rescue & Restore and our cause.

Human Trafficking in the Media Helps Raise Public Awareness

The powerful images from the media can be a real eye-opener to the general public, law enforcement, social service, coalitions, intermediary groups, and even victims themselves. We know of cases where a victim viewed a TV show or media piece on victims of human trafficking and realized that their own situation was similar to what was portrayed. When faced with the reality of their situation, the victim realized that they weren't alone and was able to access help through the Rescue & Restore national network. We also know several of our coalitions that use films as conversation starters about human trafficking. Once this kind of information is widely shared and viewed, groups in the field, and even victims themselves, will be better equipped to help combat this form of modern-slavery and identify victims.

Organizations in the anti-trafficking movement are also serving as a resource, by either being consultants or producing pieces themselves, for media that covers this issue. For example, Maryknoll - the Catholic foreign missions community based in Ossining, NY - made "Lives For Sale," to share what they know about human trafficking with law enforcement authorities, religious communities and anyone who might notice someone who is cut off from a community and could be a victim of human trafficking in the U.S. Some Rescue & Restore members were interviewed for the documentary and it aired on PBS in early 2007 across the country.

In sum, the media can be a powerful tool for us to harness to inform the public about the realities of human trafficking. Moreover, even if a storyline or situation is portrayed in a manner that is sensationalized or too "Hollywood," you can still use media to positive ends. Here are some examples of how:
a. Hold a screening of a movie, TV program, or documentary that includes a trafficking storyline for coalition members, law enforcement, social service providers and the community at-large, with a discussion and "Q & A" period following

b. Order and distribute Rescue & Restore materials around the community on the eve of a book or movie release that includes a trafficking storyline

c. Promote the multi-lingual, toll-free National Human Trafficking Resource Center, 1.888.3737.888, if asked to respond to media stories on trafficking

d. Invite the author of a book on the issue of human trafficking to a signing

e. Consider opportunities to make your own documentary or film, or position yourself as a consultant for productions

f. Order and share the HHS Trafficking Training DVD

Finally, we'd like to let you know that HHS is currently in the process of updating the Trafficking Training DVD, with new information and interviews reflecting HHS's messages on Rescue & Restore. If you would like to order the HHS Trafficking Training DVD, please visit www.acf.hhs.gov/trafficking access an order form and all of the Rescue & Restore campaign materials.

Please feel free to respond to this email to share your recent activities or suggestions on using film, books, and TV to initiate discussion within your community. We would also love to hear about movies, documentaries and books on human trafficking you may know of coming out in the near future.

Kind regards,
Vanessa Garza

Program Director

Rescue & Restore

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