Carol Spearman’s excellent and informative interview on sex trafficking is now archived.
“The Lie Beyond” – Human Trafficking
7pm ET – 4 pm PT
“When I get old, I don’t want to have people say what a nice little old lady I am.
I want them to say, ‘What is she up to now?’
Carol spent several years in Britain, working on the issues of unemployment, the environment and responsible tourism. Her organization joined the effort to stop child prostitution in Asian tourism (ECPAT). She wrote her first screenplay about the subject after a writing retreat in a remote corner of Norfolk, England. When the work with ECPAT ended abruptly and she lost her work visa, Carol returned to the US without employment or financial resources.The reasons for these events left her frightened and dismayed by the powerful forces behind trafficking of women and children.
Carol is the author of FIREWALL OF THE MIND, A HALF FORGOTTEN DREAM, ONE TAP TOO MANY .
Since the events fictionalized in this novel, the trafficking of human beings has exploded across the globe. Any estimates of numbers are questionable for accuracy, because of the difficulty of obtaining data. In a study completed in 2012 by the International Labour Office in Switzerland, it was estimated that the number of trafficked individuals across the world was over 20 million. About half of that number was represented by the AsiaPacific area. The other half was distributed across Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Eastern Europe including the Commonwealth of Independent States, and the Developed Economies which include the United States and the European Union.
Sexual exploitation was estimated to be about a quarter of the total amount of forced labor. Statistics, however, remove us from the reality of the situation – from the coercion that ranges from debt bondage and theft of travel documents to confinement and sexual violence. Trafficking is happening across the United States and Europe and it requires officials that turn their backs, customers who lack human empathy and average citizens who close their eyes to what is around them. There is no public outrage asking governments to address the issue and no large religious movement calling for an end to exploitation of people through forced labor.
Most of the efforts for action are limited to reaching out to the victims of sexual exploitation. This is needed, but the children and adults who have been abused are physically and emotionally damaged. Where is the effort to eliminate the need for treatment by preventing the exploitation of the vulnerable? Is it because so many of the young people are “throw aways” or children of the poor? Are they less important because they have already suffered at the hands of their families and the system? Does it require a blond, blueeyed daughter of an important person to be kidnapped and sold into slavery before we can find a champion who will demand exposure of the institutional ways in which the promoters and their clients are protected? Who will call on all of us to face the horror of abuse and demand its end? Driving under the influence of alcohol was common behavior until enough public will demanded that laws be changed and people punished for their irresponsible acts. Most of us changed our behavior in regard to consuming alcohol and operating a motor vehicle. What stops us from calling for an end to forced labor and sexual exploitation? Whose profits are we protecting? Whose behavior are we ignoring or excusing? A friend has spoken of being at high level daytime meetings of government officials, where human rights issues are discussed, and watching the supply of prostitutes arriving in the evening. If a staff member were to challenge the behavior, it would be a serious career limiting move. Ambassadors are coming to the United States with employees that have been coerced into forced labor, sexual or otherwise, and there is no outrage. Diplomats are immune from criminal prosecution. Vulnerable children in treatment centers, juvenile facilities and foster care homes are regularly the victims of personal and/or organized sexual exploitation. When will it be important enough to see this as a local, national and international issue of grave importance and urgency?
I hope this book will help all of you to understand that sexual exploitation of women and children is present in our states, in our countries and across the world. You do not have to close your eyes and feel helpless about it. Join forces with people who are working on the issue, donate funds to help victims, ask questions and expose abuse where you see it. As you do, be wary of the forces trying to prevent any significant action to expose those behind the business or to prosecute the customers. One of the major churches has a program to help people understand the issue. They are pleased that they have reached some small number of groups, when their goal should be to expose every church attender of their denomination in the world to the dangers and horror of forced labor and sexual exploitation.
Many of you will be curious about what was true in this story and what was my imagination. I will share this – there was an infiltration of our ECPAT group. The person in question lied about his name and his background. Although he was a respected member of the nonprofit community, someone learned that he had a criminal record and had impersonated church personnel at large meetings. When he was investigated, no criminal record was found and I was the only person who could testify against him for any unlawful act. A law enforcement officer told me that the only way his criminal record could be eliminated was if he had some high level protection. I lost my work visa for the United Kingdom and had to return to the United States. He was let off with a warning and is still appearing at important meetings in Europe, claiming to be interested in the rights of children. I did go to Thailand for a conference and found myself on an alternative travel exposure tour, talking with villagers and riding elephants to a Longhouse in the jungle where we stayed overnight. There was a Catholic priest from the Philippines who claimed that a large nonprofit agency was trafficking in children and was connected to the CIA. He and a reporter did meet with me and wanted to try to get the story into the press. I was ordered not to expose any of the information to anyone, by the large funding organizations that pulled out of the UK effort. There was a Ruth and a Soo Ling, but neither of them died. Dr. Srisang was a woman leader of the Thailand campaign and she did warn me to be wary of my fellow co-coordinator, because they had become suspicious of his activities and inappropriate actions in Taiwan and other places. When I did challenge my Howard character, the repercussions were serious but not life threatening. Most importantly, the British effort to assist the international End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism campaign was shut down for a number of years. The opposition, whoever ‘They” are, won and are still winning. This book is my attempt to overcome the fear and loss of hope that I experienced and to try to fight back once more.
Thank you for reading the book and I hope that it will help you to take some small step toward fighting the forces that are enslaving people around the world and right here in your neighborhood. If you are interested in learning more about what is going on in regard to trafficking, there are resources and groups dealing with the issue. The internet is your best source to connect you to efforts in your area and current E.C.P. A.T. information can be found on the web page of the organization.