‘Sound of Freedom’ film is a good conversation starter, but there is more to say
Most human trafficking involves manipulation, not kidnapping.
Earlier this month, the movie Sound of Freedom was released and brought human trafficking to the forefront of many viewers’ minds. As an organization deeply committed to meeting the needs of survivors, Mosaic Family Services is glad to see that this movie has grown attention and sparked concern for human trafficking, but it’s important we take the conversation deeper.
Human trafficking is a very real and devastating crime with an estimated 27.6 million victims worldwide according to the U.S. State Department, and approximately 313,000 victims in Texas alone.
It’s easy to only know the trafficking narrative we see in movies and social media: the one that involves kidnapping, white vans, and cages. But the reality is much more complex.
In most situations, victims are trafficked by someone they know, like a family member, friend, community member or employer. This is especially true with child trafficking.
Angel Studios, which produced Sound of Freedom, even stated that though the film was based on a true story, “It’s important to note that the film takes certain creative liberties for storytelling purposes,” and that the majority of trafficking occurs through manipulation.
Human trafficking often involves gaining a person’s trust before using that trust to exploit them. Though anyone can fall victim to trafficking, those facing instability and unmet needs are particularly vulnerable, including those living in poverty or unstable living situations, those with histories of abuse and violence, children in the foster care system, runaway youths, immigrants, refugees and racial or sexual minorities. In fact, many survivors don’t self-identify as victims of human trafficking.
To truly end human trafficking, we need a holistic approach that addresses the systemic and root causes of trafficking, education and protection for these vulnerable populations. We also need more awareness and education about the reality of trafficking, and the elements and dynamics that make it so prevalent in our community.
Human trafficking wasn’t even considered a crime in its most common forms until the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000. Simply put, human trafficking is the exploitation of people for profit. Traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. The majority of trafficking that occurs in Texas is indeed labor trafficking. According to a 2016 study done by the University of Texas School of Social Work, there are approximately 313,000 trafficking victims in Texas, and of those victims, approximately 234,000 have been subjected to labor trafficking.
Mosaic started its anti-trafficking program over 20 years ago and has served more than 750 trafficking survivors ever since. Serving, listening to and learning from survivors and advocates has been critical in the development of long-standing programs and services. We serve survivors of both labor and sex trafficking, and no two stories are the same.
Survivors come to Mosaic with a very diverse array of experiences, including being trafficked in the construction industry, domestic servitude and illicit massage parlors, just to name a few. But all human trafficking survivors have been betrayed and exploited, usually by someone they trusted.
Survivors are the main characters of their own stories. They are the true experts in the anti-trafficking movement, and their stories deserve to be told. The National Survivor Network is an excellent resource amplifying the voices of human trafficking from survivors themselves. Another valuable resource driven by survivor voices is Freedom Network USA.
July 30 is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, a day to bring awareness to human trafficking and those impacted by this crime. It’s time to leave no victim of trafficking behind.
For concerned parents, please have open and honest conversations with your children. It’s important to teach children about boundaries, healthy relationships and what is appropriate between adults and children. And most of all, believe your kids when they tell you something is wrong.
Understanding what human trafficking is and isn’t will help put a stop to it.