Pros and Cons of Provocative Media Around Sex Trafficking

We saw it with Kony 2012. Invisible Children's goal? Make Kony famous through the largest viral campaign in history. It raised so much controversy that the founder had a break down, but their goal was accomplished. Kony's name and crimes were once again front and center on the world stage. We were called to remember. Youth were mobilized to action. But then we forgot. We are a forgetful people. We always have been. It's why the Old Testament is replete with remember embedded in every ceremony, and erected stone, and tradition established. Remember. Provocative media tactics certainly serve to arouse interest. I believe they accomplish the goal of raising awareness. And when it comes to human trafficking, we definitely need more awareness. Why? Awareness leads to policy change, tighter laws, vigilant neighbors, compassionate church goers, and educated jury members. Only an aware community produces well-informed, well-educated citizens who can truly effect change.

Sometimes, awareness leads to action. Sometimes, provocative media instigates a new journey for an individual. They become donors, goers, doers. But sometimes, well... watch this video and let's talk more.

Pretty provocative, no? What a creative strategy to shock the crowds in Atlanta for the Final Four. It is a well-known argument by anti-sex trafficking groups that thousands of girls are brought into the cities which host large sporting championships. With an increase in demand, prostitution and its dark underbelly, sex trafficking, skyrockets during the Superbowl, Final Four, World Cup, etc. Perhaps a similar truck should drive up and down the streets of Las Vegas. It is there too, visible or not.

But therein lies my discomfort with this strategy. I've written about it in a new manual my husband and I have just released in conjunction with January's National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month:

The truck perpetuates the stereotype that sex trafficking involves kidnapping and that only women who are chained on dirty mattresses are victims. Given the audience of Final 4 fans, the potential victims in their midst were not dirty, with blood-caked hair who had been thrown into a truck hours prior. The victims in Atlanta that day were out in the open. They were walking into hotel rooms without escorts and returning to their pimp to hand over the money. If we only have the truck scene in our minds, these girls look free to leave, free to choose, and free from harm. (END:Engaging Men to End Sex Trafficking)

And that's not true.

Furthermore, this method not only misinforms the general population, but heaps more shame upon the victims who cannot identify themselves in that message. They aren't dirty, but rather staying with their pimp and his "stable" in nice hotel rooms or a rented house in the Vegas suburbs. They weren't kidnapped, but rather fell for the sweet talking, gift giving, affectionate older guy who promised them the world. They aren't chained, but rather trapped by invisible psychological bondage, threats, and the lack of a home to return to.

I'm not that girl, she thinks. Therefore I'm not a victim. This is now my life.

Shocking to the Final Four fans, disempowering to real victims. Pros and Cons.

What do you think? Do you think the shock and awe is worth the harm done to potential victims?

Want to learn more about Domestic Sex Trafficking? Check out my resources page or purchase my newly released manual designed to engage men in the battle.

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