"There will be men right here in this room who have slept with trafficked women", Abi Morgan a British playwright and screenwriter that wrote Sex Traffic reminded me over coffee and breakfast.
It's been ten years since Morgan had been approached by BBC to look at research on the topic, particularly a story of two Moldovan girls. Her television series was based on the real story of a girl who had risked her own life, gone into the world of trafficking only to be trafficked herself in search of her sister. I wanted to hear her thoughts on Human Sex Trafficking from than until now.
Through her screenwriting Morgan addressed primarily Eastern European women, and met African women from different states who were seeking asylum but fell through the cracks. These girls were trafficked internationally from India, Africa to places like Italy and Amsterdam, Stolkholm and London. The issue still remains relevant today within the UK, around the world and to Abi herself.
"We are at a time that countries that seem like they are stable are not" she told me. "The biggest area I find really deeply upsetting is having a 12 year old son, who is still a beautiful naive boy, but I know in the next year or so, while he uses the internet and looks at funny cartoons, iIt won't take long before his friends tell him, 'hey, c'mon look at this'. Referring to the porn, sex and related sites.
She asks the very question that experts have been asking over and over again. "How do you reach those boys? These boys who do not know what they are looking at and who are being desensitized, not only from the very act of sex, also from the responsibility of where these women have come from and how they got there. I think that is the generation that you really have to reach." She confirmed my insights that all the education is always around the women, it’s never around the men who are the real demand behind the industry.
Women in the UK are groomed and sought out by men, just as they are here in the US. Men who pose to be boyfriends and have a romantic interest quickly prey on their vulnerabilities. Yet more often women are the ones who pay for these crimes.
Through all this disturbing research, I want to know how we learn to trust people again. Morgan eloquently suggests that we trust people by continuing to tell the story. 'They engage with the stories, and they change the stories.' She emphasizes that in telling the stories of sex trafficking what people really want to hear is truth. She continues to look for subjects who have blinding truth and reminds us about the importance of storytelling.
Morgan tells stories in a way that shines light onto our humanity, especially for those in vulnerable positions who might not have the power to do so themselves. "I'd watched the fallout of the Bosnian conflict and I remember very clearly walking down Tottencourt road at Main line street in London seeing a girl who was clearly Bosnian, and she was licking the pavement. She was obviously suffering huge mental issues. And I remember being so shocked because people were stepping over her. And I thought, it’s really important to draw a light and cast a light on this moment. Not just the moment of this girl and where she comes from but the fact that we are walking past and not doing anything.”
As I notice more and more media casting light on the issue of sex trafficking, and organizations better addressing the root of the problem, I have hope that the time of stepping over vulnerable peoples and girls in the sex industry is one step closer to an end.