Today, October 15, is Blog Action Day, a day that bloggers commit to write posts about a particular issue in order to promote awareness and to force issues into the collective conscience. Last year, the first year for Blog Action Day, the topic was environmental issues. This year nearly 10,000 blogs, which reach 10 million readers, have committed to publish posts that discuss poverty. The topic of my blog post is the documentary Call + Response–a rockumentary really but that term makes me cringe–about human trafficking that was released last week.
The film is the brainchild of Justin Dillon, a musician who learned about human trafficking while traveling in Russia with his band. As he became more educated about the issue he felt called to respond. What started as benefit concerts evolved into the musical documentary that features influential activists, statespersons, leaders of non-profit organizations and musicians all committed to raising awareness about the “world’s 27 million most terrifying secrets”.
When it comes to slavery I had some preconceived notions, mostly that it is a thing of the past, only prevalent in third world countries, and used to oppress a particular ethnic group. I was deeply disturbed to learn that there are more slaves today than there have been at any other point in history, that there are slaves all over the world and that slave owners are more interested in money than oppression. Human trafficking is big business: it is fast growing and wildly profitable. Human beings are treated like commodities similar to weapons and drugs. Among other things slaves are used as prostitutes in the sex trade, soldiers in wars and free laborers in many industries.
The sex trade is a large part of the problem. Young boys and girls are tricked or sold into networks of pimps or brothel owners. That there is even a market for sex with children absolutely disgusts me. My visceral reaction is a desire for a violent end to the johns who make the business profitable. Toward the end of the movie Glenn Phillips sang the Radiohead song Exit Music (for a film) and as he whaled the final lines “We hope that you choke, that you choke.” I found myself nodding and wishing for a swift and final judgment. The Call + Response website has 33 better suggestions for how to respond here.