When thinking about human trafficking, the first thing I remembered was a movie from 1975, by Pier Paolo Pasolini: “Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom“. Salò and human trafficking have much in common, and yet, the reality is way crueler – of course – than this scary movie. As far as I remember, this was the most hallucinating movie I ever watched. I remember when I finished watching I wasn’t feeling well; I felt like I wanted to throw up, I felt disgusting. The fact that I watched a movie and felt this way, I can never imagine what’s like to be victim of human trafficking – the reality is nothing compared to what’s shown on the screens.
Until today, I don’t know if I hated or loved the movie. But let me tell you what’s about.
Salò, or 120 Days of Sodom
The story happens in Salò, an Italian community that served as capital to Benito Mussolini’s puppet-state supported by the Nazis. The plot is a group of rich fascists that capture teenagers to perform a series of sexual and violent ‘games’, based on the Dante’s Divine Comedy. I describe it as the “perfect” – forgive me for saying perfect when I’m actually talking about a historical fact that it’s indeed very sad – representation of fascism in the form of a movie. The state is full of rich group of fascists, in Fascism these people are considered superior to the individuals, which are represented in the movie by the kidnapped teenagers. It’s Italy’s story shown through orgies and sexual slavery – plus human trafficking.
Let me warn you now that this piece is my personal analysis to human traffic. The problem unfortunately, is way deeper, and I’ll provide you with some resources in the hyperlinks throughout the text. But please, don’t be mistaken to think that I’m telling you the whole story. I am not.
From Salò to Human Trafficking
During the movie, the Fascist are open about sending recruiters to the streets to kidnap and then traffic the teenagers to their mansion. What we hear today is people being deceived into a better life. In reality, the victims are taken to perform a list of different duties, be it sexual or forced work.
I wonder how much the society is actually surprised that human traffic exists – and the places it exists – and how much we actually know about it and just ignore. You are going to see why.
The real life
Not only mentioning about how disgusting this movie was, there’s the reality, which is human trafficking happening all around the world. July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and the fight on that cause happens everywhere. Believe when I say everywhere. Contrary to what most think, it does not only happen in poor or less developed countries, but also in countries such as Canada. For us to understand better, human trafficking does not necessarily mean that you take one person from country A to country B. It can all happen inside borders.
“July 30th is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, and the fight on that cause happens everywhere. Believe when I say everywhere”
According to the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking , in Canada not only most of the victims are aboriginal women, but they are also at a higher risk than non-aboriginal women to be trafficked. As horrifying as it sounds and is, it all happens inside the country when these women are lured into a better life by pimps who falsely welcome them as “part of their families”. Unfortunately, this type of crime did not start ‘last year’. The reality is that this is an old story that has happened for more than 30 years. This is reason number one I say that people are not or cannot be surprised that human traffic exists – including in Canada. Why are we allowing things like this happen for such a long period of time?
As opposed to Salò, in real life kidnappers tend to use a psychological approach with their victims. For example, what tends to happen with Aboriginal women in Canada, abductors pretend to care, and pretend to provide support to them, until they succeed to “conquer”. For me, these abductors are nothing more than cowards… Using this type of approximation with the victims does not create the need to face the reality, which is: they are trafficking people – Not becoming family. This contact with the victims make them feel as if their kidnappers – which are not referred as kidnappers until then – are actually part of their families. Sometimes, these people go as far as becoming their boyfriends – making it OK in the victims minds. The victims believe that everything is happening according to their plan – except it’s not).
Why else would they pretend to be part of their families, if they weren’t completely cowards? I think they need an excuse for what they are doing with these victims, so in their mind, kidnappers invent a story for themselves.
“These abductors are nothing more than cowards”
Alluring victims to a better life does not only happen in Canada, as I mentioned before, it happens everywhere. A research by Christian Groes-Green from Roskilde University, in Denmark, says “In Mozambique, believed to be the main trafficking corridor to South Africa’s red light districts, poor young women dream of moving to a rich country where they will be able to provide for themselves and their kin”. This dream of a better life is very similar to what aboriginal women dream of in Canada, where in some cases they are suffering with extreme poverty. The dreams from these women become, in no time, their biggest nightmare.
All of the persuasion in making victims feel safe and cared for, soon becomes the realization that they are being used. And again, this type of thing – human traffic – happens just everywhere.
It’s more than sex
Not only women are lured into a better life, and end up as sexual slaves. Around the world children, and sometimes men as well, are victims of human trafficking. In fact, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime [UNODC], “one in three victims of human trafficking are children”, and in Africa this number accounts for the majority of trafficking cases. It’s a scary number that shows how unjust and horrific human trafficking is. And remember: we are not learning about it today. Human trafficking is nothing more than modern slavery. Everybody (I’m not generalizing, just stating what reasonable people think) agrees that slavery was so bad. Well, it wasn’t bad – it still is bad! (Although I think bad does not describe a third of what is slavery).
Like in Salò, most of the children trafficked are victims of sexual exploitation. Sadly, this majority accounts for nearly, if not more than, one million children trafficked and being exploited sexually. They are also often victims of domestic work or can become child soldiers, amongst other forms of exploitation. Again, similar to women wanting a better life, children having difficult and poor conditions of life are target to traffickers.
Poverty is not the only reason why children are exploited – their lack of resources or means to expose their will too. It is sad to say than that Salò represents a portion of what some children of all around the world do feel. Similar to the movie, these children are trapped into a scheme and are punished if they try going out.
Human Trafficking is not a secret in Canada
The Globe and Mail has recently worked on a three months’ research on the topic, and relates that human trafficking in Canada is “an open secret”. This is reason number two I believe we know about human traffic, but we just ignore it – don’t be offended, remember I said in the beginning this is just my opinion. For example, the country has already been focus of “international rebuke for failing to address it”.
Not only the Canadian country has failed to address the issue, but around 90% of the monetary fund to deal with human trafficking was spent on law enforcement and international trafficking – when in reality, about 94% of Canada’s human trafficking happens domestically. Only the remaining less than 10% is spent on victim’s support.
Why does the government choose to invest in something that’s not the main problem? In Canada: “Aboriginal people make up just 4 per cent of the population, but a study in 2014 found they account for about half the victims of trafficking” – I hope, honestly, that this sentence is not the answer to my question.
What can we do about it?
The United States Department of State separated fifteen tips of how we can help fight human trafficking. Among these tips there’s something I often, if not always, say here: find out what’s the source of anything and everything you are consuming. Researching, getting informed of ‘where’ whatever you’re consuming comes from is just the beginning of what’s like to be a good citizen. If you have any doubts on what you are consuming, you must tell the authorities.
Forbes has also shown seven ways technology is fighting human trafficking, and you can find it here.
Being quiet about whatever information you have will not stop, neither prevent more people being victims of human trafficking. This is not a one-day job, and you are not going to do it alone. But someone has to start. Be that someone.
You can find the featured image here.