As part of the Global Team of 200, I was given the opportunity to view the movie The Long Night, by documentarian Tim Matsui.
Here’s a description from the website:
The Long Night is a feature documentary film produced in partnership with MediaStorm. It gives voice and meaning to the crisis of minors who are forced and coerced into the American sex trade. The film weaves together the stories of seven people whose lives have been forever changed by this issue.
The Long Night is not themed to advocate a solution. Instead, it submerges the viewer in the experience of what it has been like for Natalie and Lisa to survive in the life; for Tom and Nacole to watch their daughter slip out of their hands; for Andy and his fellow police officers, Brian and Joel, to try and create a more just system.
The Long Night is testimony to the lives of those who have lived this crisis.
The movie was heartbreaking to watch – especially since I have a daughter who is only slightly older than Lisa and Natalie. Boo and her friends are at even greater risk of being exploited because they are transgendered.
Some of what I gleaned from watching the movie:
- I was struck by the pain in Natalie’s eyes as she explained how she had been sucked into prostitution.
- The parents wondered what they did wrong to cause their daughter to run away.
- Pimps=Sociopaths (probably not always true, but this was my impression)
- Until recently there were no programs in place to help girls leave a life of prostitution and transition back to a “normal” life.
The Good News:
Police officers in Seattle started an NGO (non-governmental agency) called The Genesis Project, in 2011. Here’s what officer Andy Conner has to say about it:
As a drop-in center for victims of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking, GP now provides that third option I never had before. It’s a place I can take these girls that isn’t a jail cell that just holds them without helping. And it isn’t a youth facility that simply doesn’t have the resources to address the crushing needs in their lives.
Tim Matsui’s film is part of Leaving the Life, a multi-platform initiative to facilitate a collective action-oriented dialog around the crisis of commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking of children in the U.S.
Watch The Long Night.
Follow Leaving the Life on Facebook.
Teenage prostitution and sex-trafficking are not just a problem in Seattle, but nation-wide.
How Can You Help?
• First, think about your sphere of influence
• Then, watch the film at http://thelongnightmovie.com
•Follow on social media (see links above)
• Invite your friends to do the same
• Comment on the film. On your page or on the film’s.
• Share a story. Share your own Call to Action.
• Host a living room screening of the film
• Bring the film to your PTA or PEPS group
• Integrate it into your schools
• Call your city officials and ask they watch the film.
• Get the film to your local police chief
• Get your mayor on board
• Find local victim service providers and ask what they need; socks, meals, donations for their annual fundraiser, they’ll know. And then let your community know what you did, inspire them!
• Have Leaving the Life come to your municipality to facilitate the co-creation of solutions in day-long convenings. This will take some work, even if you’re the mayor or the county executive.
• Because it’s all connected, consider donating to your favorite non profit working on a social justice issue. This includes Leaving the Life (link: http://www.leaving-the-life.com/take-action/)
What conversations can you have in your community about the problem of sex-trafficking?