By Jason Choi, B.A., Intern

Thursday, October 5, 2017 — Global Bioethics Initiative attended the UN premiere of the new film, Trafficked, at the invitation of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, New York Office. Written by Siddharth Kara—a fellow at Harvard’s Carr Center for Human Rights and the world’s leading expert on human trafficking and modern slavery—and based on the real experiences of three human trafficking survivors, and over 20 years of Kara’s work, the movie is powerful and emotional.

The film began shortly after opening remarks from Simone Monasebian from the UNODC, and Siddharth Kara on his experience documenting, reporting and confronting human traffickers in over 50 countries. Human trafficking is a sociological, feminist and human rights issue, but it is also a bioethical, public health and policy matter as well. The victims and survivors of human trafficking are deprived of their rights, of their freedom and joy, and dehumanized, treated as a subclass of humans, as mere means devoid of worth. No nation is immune to human trafficking, and last year, the human and sex trafficking industry made over $100 billion, more than Apple, Microsoft, Nike, Intel and Starbucks combined.

The film focuses on three young women from different countries—Amba from India, Mali from Nigeria, and Sara from California—who were all forced into the being sex slaves. Amba was sold out of revenge by an upset suitor whom Amba rejected; Mali, who had been a sex slave for 5 years, was thrown into this world when she was forced to find work to support her son, Nelson; and Sara was deceived by a fake CPS agent (Ashley Judd) and forced into sex slavery. Many themes are constantly highlighted throughout the movie: money, violence, hope, desperation, togetherness and determination. Sara is beaten various times for her lack of obedience and submission; Amba is forced into having an abortion; and Mali is the optimistic one who cares for both of them throughout. Together, they attempt an escape—from the house in which they are trapped and from the industry. In the end, only Sara and Amba are successful in escaping from both, while Mali was sold once again and shown caring for a young girl on the side of the street whom at the end of the film.

The film does a great job in showing how widespread the issue of human and sex trafficking is, and the participants in the industry. Trafficked also touches upon various bioethical issues—abortion, consent, mistreatment of and violence against women, and even organ trafficking—and demonstrates how they are all linked together. GBI applauds and thanks the UNODC for organizing the event, and Siddharth Kara, for his extensive work and research in human trafficking and modern day slavery, and for writing this film to raise awareness on this topic.