07 June, 2010

"Trafficking Is Torture"

I saw this video last year and it struck me cold. Amanda at Change.org wrote about it today. There is something disturbing about it, something horrible, you want to turn your gaze but feel what she is saying is too important. She called it, "One of the most courageous public service ads I've seen about human trafficking."

She later writes (emphasis added):
Repulsion is something those of us committed to ending modern-day slavery need to tap back into, and videos like this can help. We need to remember that behind all the discussions of legislation and policy, behind all the online petitions with their euphemistic wording, there is a woman with her face contorted in pain because she is being raped by hundreds of men. There is a man who is falling to his knees with heat exhaustion and malnutrition in a field. There is a child who will never go to school, play, or dream because all she does is cook and clean.
And it's true. I spent the last week at Duke at a conference on Reconciliation. And as I process it more I will start to write about it here. But at one point someone said that we (policy makers, advocates, academics, etc.) sit in insular rooms with no windows, with our privilege and our knowledge and turn human suffering - human indignity, trafficking, death, decay, poverty, etc - into an academic exercise, words on a page, a project, one more thing to do in our day. But to get outside the insular, to sit with a child who has been raped repeatedly daily, to be with a mother with AIDS, to sit with a person whose family has been ravaged by war - that, that is what counts. There are people on the other side of our policy and laws and crusades. And that gets lost in the shuffle.

I have mixed feelings on the video, but if Emma Thompson getting "raped" on a bed makes us start the conversation again, brings awareness, and somehow in the horror of what is presumed makes others willing to stand and get involved - then I'm am hesitantly okay with that.

Oscar Romero once said that "We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs." And I hold that up against this ad, against those working to a call and response and, as I had to do many, many, many times last week, quietly ask what our motivation for abolition truly is.