Monday January 11th marks National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, a time to recognize the slavery epidemic which occurs around the world. The majority of people, when they hear about modern day slavery or sex trafficking they think about it happening in foreign countries or happening overseas or happening in the developing world; yet the issue of human trafficking and sex trafficking and exploited children is right here in South-western, Ontario. We cannot strengthen global efforts to end modern day slavery without first accepting the responsibility to prevent, identify, and aggressively combat this crime right here at home. No country can claim immunity from the scourge of human rights abuses, or from the responsibility to confront it.
January 11th is dedicated to raising awareness of sexual slavery and human trafficking worldwide. It started in 2007, when the U.S. Senate designated January 11th as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Although it is a U.S. initiative, the United Nations has highlight this topic and working towards global awareness. In December 2014 an unprecedented signing of the Joint Declaration of Religious Leaders against Modern Slavery by the leaders of the world’s largest faiths was a huge movement towards recognizing the issue worldwide. The goal of the document is to eradicate modern slavery across the world by 2020 and for all time. For the first time in history, these leaders of the world’s largest faiths have come together for one purpose and goal. To end slavery. #EndSlavery
That is the same goal that award winning director Matthew Marshall and his production company m & s Marshall Productions strived to achieve with the award winning independent dramatic film Daughter of the King. The store follows Ashley Miller (Debra van Gaalen) as she gets trapped in the world of modern slavery as a debt slave to a ruthless drug and prostitution lord Haydar (Florin Marksteiner) due to a financial debt that she owes him.
The cast and crew of this movie united to create an artistic work that would shine a light on the social issue of human trafficking and modern day slavery.
Marshall feels the world needs to come together to end modern day slavery once and for all. He feels what isn’t talked about enough is the supply and demand aspect of the issue. “There wouldn’t be a supply if there weren’t a demand. The demand comes mostly from men wanting to have sex. So we really need strong, powerful men talking to men about sex trafficking and the abuse of women, the objectification of women in our society. We really need that conversation to happen around the world,” Marshall says when talking about the issue of sex trafficking.
Human trafficking victims or those trapped in modern day slavery are bought, sold, beaten, and abused, locked in compelled service and hidden in darkness. They toil in factories and fields; in brothels and sweatshops; at sea, abroad, an at home. They are victims of human trafficking—a crime that amounts to modern-day slavery. This modern-day slavery occurs in countries throughout the world and in communities across our Nation. These victims face a cruelty that has no place in a civilized world: children are made to be soldiers, teenage girls are beaten and forced into prostitution, and migrants are exploited and compelled to work for little or no pay. “This could be a member of your family” Marshall adds.
The average human trafficking sex trade victim may be forced to have sex up to 20 to 40 times a day. Human trafficking is a crime that can take many forms, and one that tears at our social fabric, debases our common humanity, and violates what we stand for as a country and a people. “What if this women was your mother, sister, or daughter. How would you feel? We need people to see it in this context and see how close to home this issue really is,” Marshall goes on to add.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human’s against their will for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour or modern day slavery. Millions of men, women, and children around the world and even right in Canada and the USA are being human trafficked. Human trafficking is one of the cruelest forms of modern day slavery and is the fastest growing. After drug dealing, human trafficking is the second largest crime industry in the world. There are over 30 million people that live in some form of slavery in the world today. That is more than any other time in our history. Including those taken from Africa during 300 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The Globe sex slavery market generates a $39 billion dollar profit annually. Sex Slavery and commercial sexual exploitation constitutes the majority of the demand that drives human trafficking.
At the heart of Marshall’s film, Daughter of the King is the issue of human trafficking and debt slavery as throughout the film Ashley tries to deal with being a debt slave. All around her are girls that are in Haydar’s organization. Each with their own story of how they have ended up where they are. Many of them are not there willingly, but really having nowhere else to go. Haydar, forces Ashley to be one of his “girls” to pay off her debt. He has preyed upon women who have been thrown out on the streets, are run a ways or are running away from home. Some are drug addicts, and some are sexually abused. He takes them in and then entraps them in his web like a spider does to its prey. Women who are trafficked are often women from the streets with no home or money, some with drug addictions, others running from various forms of abuse. Some are women who owe money to people like Haydar and now have to work off their debt to be able to get their freedom. “We all have made mistakes we have made in our lives that get us trapped in situations where we are in ‘debt’ of some kind. It might be physical, emotional financial, mental. We become shackled by something. The film really is about finding freedom from the sins of our lives,” Marshall goes on to say. The film’s tag line is “Freedom by Grace” and Marshall feels that it lives up to that as he summarizes the film as “a story about shining a light into the darkness of human trafficking. Finding hope where no hope appears to be. It being about grace, love, faith and forgiveness in the middle of terrible events and circumstances. In doing the film myself and all those involved wanted to bring a message to the world that no matter what has happened in your past you are still like a precious gem and are valuable.” Central themes and topics in the movie included Human trafficking, grace, Hope and finding personal freedom from your past, forgiveness.
On this day of awareness everyone needs to see human trafficking and exploitation as very real issues in the world that everyone needs to pay attention to. People, specifically men need to see that the true heart of human trafficking and sexual exploitation is the demand for it driven by men. It is the male population that is fueling an industry that exploits women. The key thing about sex trafficking is supply and demand. Without the demand the supply would dry up. We as the male population is the root of this. We need to change our perspective and we need to speak up for women. Marshall closes with “any person that has any sense of justice for the poor or justice for the marginal needs to stand up and speak out on this issue”. Marshall feels that together we can come together to #EndSlavery