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Home / Articles / News / News /  No, it’s not the game. It’s the players.
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Thursday, March 27,2014

No, it’s not the game. It’s the players.

‘Tricked’ documentary challenges stereotypes on domestic sex trafficking

By Elizabeth Miller
JK Wasson
A woman walks the "track" in Washington D.C.

It could have been her. That’s what University of Colorado alumnus Elizabeth Woller says she took away from the experience of running the cameras for Tricked, a film about domestic sex trafficking. “These girls could have been me, they could have been my friends,” Woller says.

Woller recorded interviews with the film’s central character, Danielle Douglas, a Boston college student whose pimp “boyfriended in” to convince her to walk the streets in Massachusetts towns, selling blowjobs for $30 and sex for $50. Another survivor, a high school girl from Aurora, met a man on the Internet who then kidnapped, assaulted and prostituted her. She escaped. Most don’t. One of the initial supporters of Tricked was a CU mom who’s daughter was trafficked while she lived in Boulder.

“This is an American issue. It’s not a Third World issue, it’s an American issue. The film focuses a lot on Colorado because it is a major issue in Colorado, but it’s in every state,” Woller says. “It’s your neighbors. It’s your neighborhood. It’s your city.”

The film drills that message home in one interview after another with trafficking victims, pimps, victims’ advocates, victims’ parents, attorneys and the police who put boots on the ground to try to put a stop to the practice. They come from cities across the country — New York City, Boston, Chicago, Duluth, Las Vegas, Houston and Denver. Woller was recruited for the Denver interviews by the film’s producer and co-director, Jane Wells, who founded the nonprofit 3 Generations to continue sharing stories from survivors of human rights abuses like those recorded in her documentary, The Devil Came On Horseback, about the genocide in Darfur.

On any given day, according to Woller, an estimated 300 children are sold for sex in Colorado, and sold up to 10 times day. It’s a $3 billion a year business and among the fastest growing criminal industries in the United States.

At the core of Tricked is an inquiry into how we look at prostitutes in America — how often are we treating victims as criminals?

Douglas, the victim-turned-advocate whose story is central to the film, says she was arrested as many as 50 times for prostitution, and not once did someone stop and ask if she needed help. So her pimp would bail her out and within hours she was back on the “track,” walking the streets and selling herself. A former Las Vegas escort echoes, if she had known she could have gone to a security guard and said she was being held, and sold, against her will and gotten help, she would have.

The pimps, on the other hand seem to think they have impunity — and because prosecutions in these cases are so difficult, some days, they do.

But Tricked shows their faces and their conversations with police as they’re being handcuffed in front of pleasantly beige suburban homes.

“Many of the pimps were just fine with being shown, they don’t see anything wrong with what they do,” Woller says. “So they didn’t think it would be a problem for them.”

Footage was collected over three years, relying on cooperation from law enforcement, particularly Sgt. Dan Steele of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Lost Task Force, which works to address child sex trafficking (“Tracking down the trafficked,” Boulder Weekly, July 25, 2013).

They also relied on a “community vigilante” in Chicago who keeps track of the girls and connected the filmmakers with victims and pimps there.

Tricked is showing all over the country in a theatrical ondemand distribution — enough people from an area purchase advanced tickets through Gathr.us, and they get a screening.

“People’s main reaction is just shock. They don’t know that this is happening,” Woller says. “They never really thought about prostitutes as actual victims of traffickers, so that’s a real shift in how people are perceiving these women and it’s been an incredible response, just so positive from everyone, so we really feel like we’re getting the message out there.”

That was the goal — to spark national dialogue about the issue to bring greater attention and awareness, and perhaps even some policy or practice changes. In 2013, Colorado law enforcement agencies rescued 61 juvenile sex trafficking victims — but there are only three beds for minor victims of sex trafficking in the state.

In her director’s statement, Wells lists the myths that surround prostitution in America she hoped Tricked would help to dispel, among them: That it’s a victimless crime, it’s not going away, that girls do it by choice and it’s a great way to pay for college.

It’s precisely the kind of work that got Woller into filmmaking. While she was studying abroad in Jordan, a female journalist there took on the issue of honor killings.

“She had succeeded in changing not only the legal ramifications for these men that killed their sisters and daughters, but she also changed the culture around it so people were actually talking about it and seeing it as a bad thing,” Woller says.

When she returned to Boulder, she started working with the filmmakers at Landlocked Films and has continued since 2008 to focus on filmmaking that draws attention to human rights issues. She met the Tricked filmmaker, Wells, through her son, who Woller met in Beirut while completing a graduate degree in Arab and Middle East Studies at the American University.

Tricked will screen at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 9, at the Colony Square Stadium 12, 1164 W. Dillon Road, in Louisville. Elizabeth Woller will attend the screening, as will Sgt. Dan Steele and Danielle Douglas, one of the survivors interviewed in the film, and an advocate from Denver. Additional information on the film can be found and tickets purchased at their website, www.trickedfilm.com.

Respond: letters@boulderweekly.com

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There is a lot of controversy over the numbers of women who are forced sex slaves. The real factual answer is that no one knows.  There is hard evidence that the sex slavery/sex trafficking issue continues to report false information and is greatly exaggerated by politicians, the media, and aid groups, feminist and religious organizations that receive funds from the government,  The estimate of adult women who become new sex slaves ranges anywhere from 40 million a year to 5,000 per year all of which appear to be much too high.  They have no evidence to back up these numbers, and no one questions them about it.  Their sources have no sources, and are made up numbers. In fact if some of these numbers are to believed which have either not changed or have been increased each year for the past twenty years, all woman on earth would currently be sex slaves.  Yet, very few real forced against their will sex slaves have been found.

It is not easy for criminals to engage in this acitvity:

Sex trafficking is illegal and the pentities are very severe.  It is very difficult to force someone to be a sex slave, they would have to have 24 hour guards posted and be watched 365 days a year, 24 hours per day. Have the threat of violence if they refused, and have no one notice and complain to the authorities or police. They would need to hide from the general public yet still manage to see customers from the general public and not have the customers turn the traffickers in to the police.  They would need to provide them with medical care, food, shelter, and have all their basic needs met.  They would need to have the sex slaves put on a fake front that they enjoyed what they were doing, act flirtatious and do their job well.  They would have to deal with the authorities looking for the missing women, and hide any money they may make, since it comes from illegal activity. They must do all of this while constantly trying to prevent the sex slaves from escaping and reporting them to the police. They would need to prevent the general public from reporting them into the police. This is extremely difficult to do, which makes this activity rare. These criminals would be breaking dozens of major laws not just one.  Kidnapping itself is a serious crime.  There are many laws against sex trafficking, sex slavery, kidnapping, sex abuse, rape, sexual harassment etc.   If someone is behind it, they will be breaking many serious laws, be in big trouble, and will go to jail for many long years.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

According to the media hype There was supposed to be hundreds of thousands of under age child sex slaves kidnapped and forced to have sex with super bowl fans. At the Dallas Super Bowl 2011. WHAT HAPPENED TO ALL OF THEM????????????

It was all a big lie told by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, government officials, and various anti-prostitution groups: Traffick911, Not for Sale, Change-org, A Future Not A Past, Polaris Project, Salvation Army, Women’s Funding Network, and the Dallas Women’s Foundation,  which are anti-prostitution groups that tell lies in order to get grant money from the government and charities to pay their high salaries, and get huge amounts of money into their organizations.

As proved in the link below:
Top FBI agent in Dallas (Robert Casey Jr.) sees no evidence of expected spike in child sex trafficking:

“Among those preparations was an initiative to prevent an expected rise in sex trafficking and child prostitution surrounding the Super Bowl. But Robert Casey Jr., special agent in charge of the FBI’s Dallas office, said he saw no evidence that the increase would happen, nor that it did.

“In my opinion, the Super Bowl does not create a spike in those crimes,” he said. “The discussion gets very vague and general. People mixed up child prostitution with the term human trafficking, which are different things, and then there is just plain old prostitution.”

http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/super-bowl/local/20110302-top-fbi-agent-in-dallas-praises-super-bowl-security-effort-sees-no-evidence-of-expected-spike-in-child-sex-trafficking.ece

This myth of thousands or millions of underage sex slaves tries to make every sports fan a sex criminal. No matter what the sport is, or in what country it is in.

Brian McCarthy isn’t happy. He’s a spokesman for the NFL. Every year he’s forced to hear why his customers are adulterers and child molesters. Brian McCarthy says the sport/super bowl sex slave story is a urban legend, with no truth at all.

The idea of people getting the wrong information and believing lies, is bad. No matter what the topic is. The Sex trafficking, slavery issue is one of the biggest lies being told today. It is amazing to me how people will believe such lies so easily. The media is to blame for this. I wonder why they feel such a need to report wrong stats, numbers and information about this topic without doing proper research.

https://humantraffickingstatistics.wordpress.com

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
JL

Adult Women are NOT children.

Media coverage of trafficking and adult women’s migration and sex work is confused and inaccurate. The media wrongly uses the terms ‘sex work’ and ‘trafficking’ and adult sex work and child sex trafficking synonymously, perpetuating stereotypes and stigmatization, and contributing to the violation of women’s right to free movement and livelihood options.  They assume that if any woman moves from place to place for sex work that they are being trafficking. The media, politicians, aid groups, feminist,  and religious organizations does not take into account that she may do this of her own free will.  Too often  women are treated like children. Adult women are not children. Prostitution is a business between adults and in our society adults are responsible for themselves. Sex slavery/trafficking on the other hand is non-consensual.  To equate that the two are the same is to say grown adult women are not capable of being responsible or thinking for themselves.

Most migrant women, including those in the sex industry, have made a clear decision, says a new study, to leave home and take their chances abroad. They are not “passive victims” in need of “saving” or sending back by western campaigners.

Sex Trafficking/Slavery is used by many groups as a attempt to outlaw all prostitution around the world by saying that all women are victims even if they do it willing. This hurts any real victims because it labels all sex workers as victims.

This is done by the media, aid groups, NGO’s, feminists, politicians, and religious organizations that receive funds from the government. There are very strong groups who promote that all adult women who have sex are victims even if they are willing, enjoy it and go out of there way to get it. These groups try to get the public to believe that no adult women in their right mind would ever go into the sex business unless she was forced to do so, weather she knew it or not. They say that 100% of all sex workers are trafficking victims. They do this in order to label all men as sex offenders and wipe out all consensual prostitution. Which is what their real goal is. There is almost no one who challenges or questions them about their false beliefs. Therefore, the only voices you hear are of these extreme groups. These groups want to label all men as terrible sex offenders for seeing a willing adult sex worker. No one stands up to say this is foolish, the passive public says nothing. These groups even say that all men who marry foreign women are terrible sex predators who take advange of these “helpless foreign women wives”.

These groups believe that two adults having consensual sex in private should be outlawed. Since they believe that it is impossible for a man to have sex with a woman without abusing the woman in the process.

This is an example of feminists and other groups exploiting the suffering of a small minority of vulnerable and abused women in order to further their own collective interests. For example, getting money from the government and Charity into their organizations. Rather than wanting to find the truth.

Non government Organizations (NGO’s) are chiefly responsible for manufacturing “a growing problem” of trafficking in order to generate revenue for their Federally funded cottage industry. They also fabricated numbers by expanding the definition of trafficking to include practically anyone.

http://sextraffickingtruths.blogspot.com/

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
JL

The American Politicians, Attorney Generals, senators, governors, representatives are doing what they do best: “Lying to the public, making laws based on myths and putting innocent men and women in prison for non-existent super bowl sex trafficking” saying that over 100,000 forced child prostitutes are kidnapped, forced and raped by super bowl ticket holder fans every year at the super bowl with no evidence or proof.

Representative Christopher H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey and co-chairman of the House anti-human trafficking caucus, and N.J. Gov. Chris Christie announced a sex trafficking law enforcement crackdown. Cindy McCain (wife of John McCain) in advance of next year’s Super Bowl in Arizona, flew in to stand at Mr. Christie’s side, declaring that the Super Bowl is “the largest human-trafficking event on the planet.”

What is it about the super bowl that cause normal men to suddenly turn into evil child rapists?

New York Time article

From The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children website:

“The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children is encouraged by the increased awareness of child sex trafficking that occurs before large events such as this weekend’s Super Bowl. However, some news outlets have attributed the statement “10,000 child sex trafficking victims were at the Super Bowl in Miami” to us. That is inaccurate. No one knows with certainty the exact number of children exploited through sex trafficking in the United States or during events like the Super Bowl. “
Link to Missing & Exploited Children website:
http://blog.missingkids.com/post/75067031070/sex-trafficking-and-the-super-bowl

 

How many New Jersey super bowl ticket holder fans have they arrested for having forced sex with beaten, raped child prostitutes? How many female child prostitutes have they rescued? How old were they? Can we see them and talk with the underage female child victims?

Do all super bowl ticket holder fans like to have forced sex with a child who is crying, kicking, and screaming while the Super Bowl football fan is beating the child to death?
Do they do this in the football stadium?  Do all of the super bowl ticket holder fans join in the rape?

Why is it that they never mention transgender boys, and male victims?  Are all the victims 5 year old girls that the super bowl ticket holder fans are paying to rape? Without anyone noticing?

Why is it that thousands of forced, beaten, raped child prostitutes are never found at the super bowl?  Could it be because they don’t exist?

https://humantraffickingstatistics.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/sex-trafficking-super-bowl-myth/

 

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
JL

Denver police are potentially wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer money and distorting facts while trying to find the elusive “victims” of a crime that is being blown immensely out of proportion. Police officials are so determined to justify their actions they openly state they refuse to believe people who claim they’re not victims, but are instead just trying to make a living in today’s post-recession world.

The so-called crime (and much of the time it’s not illegal at all) is being an adult involved in sex work of her own free will.

(Although there are male as well as female sex workers, the feminine pronoun will be used here to refer to sex workers in general in order to maintain clarity.)

Recent articles in The Denver Post regarding the topic (such as “Denver police increase efforts against human trafficking” on Oct. 30th) revealed how Denver police are attempting to convince sex workers to play the role of “victim” after being arrested. In exchange for saying she was forced into the business by a pimp, the sex worker is given special treatment and even potentially allowed to go free.

Faced with the alternative of jail time, obviously such a practice openly encourages the creation of fictional stories about imaginary pimps. Or, to quote the noted Denver Post article, “Prostitutes often avoid charges if they cooperate.”

But even in situations where a sex worker tells the truth and informs officers that she’s an independent business woman working of her own free will, Denver police have chosen not to believe them.

“We have to help them realize they are victims,” Denver vice Lieutenant Aaron Sanchez told reporters of a local newspaper, despite the fact he also said, “These girls just flat out say, ‘Nope, that’s not what’s happening.’”

Why would police act in such a way? Because if they don’t have victims, they don’t have any reason to accept the huge grant – $290,000 from the federal government to fight human trafficking – which means to keep the money they need to find victims … even where victims don’t exist.

“I do not feel any shame for what I do. In fact, quite the opposite,” said Danielle Rae, an escort in her mid-30s who has been in the business for three years.

She’s anything but a victim. Before entering her current line of work, Danielle spent 14 years as a Cherry Creek paralegal and attended nursing school. “When I worked at the law firm, I busted my ass for eight to 12 hours a day, many weekends and holidays. I prepared 90 percent of the cases and yet the attorney made the big bucks,” she said. “Today, my hourly rate is more than the those attorneys I slaved for for almost two decades and I feel empowered and worthy and in control of my life. I dread returning to the 8 to 5.”

People involved in the sex industry tend to have a very individualistic view regarding personal rights. They tend to think outside of the mainstream, and, as part of coming to terms with their desire to step outside of societal limits, they tend to form personal belief systems, and re-evaluate their morality to the point where they often view taboo behaviors as acceptable. They are risk takers, both legally and philosophically, an attitude that should be encouraged, not attacked. Such a philosophy is what led our forefathers to defy the British government and write their own constitution. It’s what led civil rights activists to stand up against racial discrimination.

“By being an escort, I declare myself a feminist, in that I am demonstrating my right as a woman to own my body and do with it as I wish, giving of myself and sharing the joys of life as they come naturally,” said Jessica Palmer. A woman in her 40s, she said she decided to try escorting after a decade as a corporate software developer. “Now I run my own business, working as an independent contractor, dealing with all the expenses, taking all the risks – both financial and physical,” she said. “It takes brains to do what I do at my age. If I was in any other type of industry, people would applaud me.”

An issue to consider, however, is that what Jessica and Danielle do is not against the law in Colorado. According to state statutes, prostitution (which is illegal) is when a money exchanges hands specifically for the performance of sexual acts. When a client contracts with an escort, however, he is purchasing time with her without any specific agreement regarding anything sexual, and what the client and the escort do with that time is up to the two of them as consenting adults. This may sound like a legal maneuver, but in reality it’s extremely important, because it allows the escort total leeway in deciding what activities she feels comfortable with during each of her sessions. An escort’s session might involve nothing more than stripping, performing full-body massage or acting as a platonic dominatrix, or even just accompanying a client to dinner, all of which are perfectly legal yet maintain her role as a sex worker because it is her sexuality that makes her attractive.

“I once spent two hours with a client discussing politics, world history and philosophy,” said Jessica, who has two college degrees, including one in computer science, and is a member of Mensa, the high-IQ society. “Clients repeatedly tell me they’re seeking companionship as much as the sex. My goal is to create for them wonderful memories they can look back on and smile about.”

The idea of forced prostitution has been a hot-button issue lately. Films like “Taken” bring in millions of dollars while people cheer an action-hero dad fighting to rescue his daughter after her kidnapping by modern-day slavers. Celebrities Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher produce humorous but well-meaning ads stating, “Real Men Don’t Buy Girls.”

So-called “experts” repeatedly claim in media outlets that between 100,000 and 300,000 children are forced to become prostitutes every year in the United States alone. This would be a horrible problem if it were true – but it’s not. According to published reports, that number is actually based on an estimate made by two researchers, Richard J. Estes and Neil Alan Weiner, regarding not the number of children in the United States who become prostitutes, but simply the ones that are at risk of such – and in interviews the researchers admit their figures are based on very vague values, such as the number of transgender children in American and the approximate number of children living near the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Other claims of dramatic rises in the number of child prostitutes in this country have been shown to be based on pure guesswork by activist teams who made sweeping estimates after looking at various escort advertisements on the Internet and trying to approximate how old the women were.

In fact, according to law-enforcement officials themselves, the number of children arrested for prostitution in the United States each year averages to less than 900 a year – which is a far cry from the huge numbers being reported by anti-prostitution groups, even when you include the numbers who escape arrest.

Of those children who are, indeed, involved in the sex industry, other reports have shown that the majority tell researchers that they are, in fact, doing it of their own free will, much like their older counterparts, and they see their job as simply a way of trying to take control of their situation while bringing home more cash than they could ever make flipping burgers.

 

The idea of anybody being forced to engage in sexual acts is horrible, whether or not somebody is making money off the situation, and it’s even worse when the victim is a child.

But if we’re going to fight the issue, we need to keep the facts in perspective. We need to see who are the victims, and who are the people simply trying to do what they can to survive in this tough economy.

Throwing money at any problem never helps unless the money is spent wisely and effectively to help those being hurt. And that’s all we ask to be done by the Denver police and anybody else who is concerned about this issue.

https://bebopper76.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 
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