Playground directed by Libby Spears
On Tuesday night, I went to IMPACT ARTS + FILM FUND‘s screening of Playground, a documentary by Libby Spears, at the US Capitol Visitors Center. The film, and following panel discussion, centered on sex trafficking in the United States. Though the sad reality of institutionalized children, vicious cycles, sex abuse, and prostitution was not news to me, I found Playground disturbing. The two facts that I wanted to be sure to share with AskMissA.com readers are as follows:
1). Atlanta is thirteenth most popular city in the world for “sex tourism.” The Atlanta airport has flights going just about everywhere. It’s a major transport hub, and that means a child prostitute can be flown in for just a few hours before winding up in another city later on that same day. I used to live near the Atlanta airport, and I had no idea.
2) The United States has protections in place for foreign-born child prostitutes, who we clearly and easily identify as victims of sex trafficking. But those protections don’t exist for American children who are likewise victimized, raped, and trafficked across state lines–and are then sometimes prosecuted for “prostitution,” even though they cannot legally consent to sex in the first place.
The panelists who spoke following the film (from Polaris Project and from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as well as director Libby Spears) said that police training and coordination are important tools in the fight against child sex trafficking. The federal funds to assist trafficking victims and to crack down on traffickers have been repeatedly authorized, but the funds have not been appropriated. Tell Congress to take human trafficking seriously.
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