John Clark writing about a recent program we presented at the Hartland Public Library. Our new Friends of the Library group has been offering programs on a monthly basis to expand awareness in Hartland and surrounding towns. Last Thursday, we presented one that I wish had pulled in a much larger audience, hence my sharing it here.
For many Mainers, the idea of human trafficking brings to mind runaways in big cities, but certainly not in Maine. In fact, one state trooper commented recently that he wasn’t aware of it being a problem in Maine. There are numerous agencies listed at the end of this piece that would differ. Their estimate is that between 200-300 Maine residents are trafficked annually.
In getting materials and setting up the program, a couple things became apparent. Those who aren’t aware or have minimal knowledge, tend to be uncomfortable with the idea that neighbors, children of neighbors or quite frankly, people who live somewhere nearby, might be or have been victims of trafficking. Those who deal with victims, mental health, substance abuse or homelessness, however, are frustrated by that very avoidance.
Thanks to Dr. Kathleen Clark, who convinced the local Greater Federation of Womens Clubs chapter to assist in purchasing a streaming video copy of Not My Life, an 83 minute video also available on DVD, that’s directed by Robert Bilheimer. Starting with young boys who have been sold by their parents in Africa to fishermen on a lake and work from dawn to dusk for no pay and little food, the film looks at human trafficking in the US, Asia, Eastern Europe and other places. Shot in what I would call low key format, it alternates between victims, those who exploit them and the dedicated people who devote their lives and careers to rescuing them and stopping others from becoming victims. Some of the scenes and dialogue will shock you, but that’s important.
Sadly, we had a very small turnout, but one was a high school teacher who encouraged his students to come and three did. It is worthy of note that at least two Maine librarians have shared what they believed to be a victim and victimizer using library computers, but in both instances, they disappeared before law enforcement arrived.
There are other films available that cover human trafficking, Determining which are worth getting can be a challenge as exploitation seems to have infiltrated this area as it has so many others. One that seems worthy is Trafficked: Children As Sexual Slaves – Educational Version with Public Performance Rights Luigi Acquisto (Director).
There are several organizations in Maine and at the national level who are familiar with this terrible threat and are involved in the fight. I have listed them below along with contact information.
3-Starting the discussion on male victims: https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/fs/2017/272004.htm
4-Human Trafficking Task Force E-guide: https://www.ovcttac.gov/taskforceguide/eguide/4-supporting-victims/45-victim-populations/male-victims/
5-Stop Trafficking Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stoptraffickingus/
6-Restoration Ink in Dover-Foxcroft: https://saconnects.org/the-healing-power-of-restoration-ink/
7-Rape Response Services in Bangor: http://www.rrsonline.org/
8-National Human Trafficking hotline, 1-888-373-7888: https://humantraffickinghotline.org/
9-Sexual Assault Crisis and Support Center, serving Kennebec and Somerset Counties. (1-800-871-7741): www.silentnomore.org