I've been working with The Barnaba Institute and ECPAT(End Child Prostitution and Trafficking) these past couple of months on moving a CT Safe Harbor bill through the legislative process. While at times I've felt a bit elementary (so how does a bill become a law again? cue School House Rocks…), I have been extremely encouraged by the quick momentum we helped to create in bringing CT anti-trafficking and child advocacy organizations together. Currently, the Safe Harbor bill sits in the Joint Judiciary Committee, waiting for a vote. If it passes through Judiciary, the next step is for the State Senate to vote on the bill. Last year, the bill didn't even make it to a public hearing, so we are watching the power of advocacy and civic engagement at work!
Tomorrow, we will join Senator Kane and Director Libby Spears at the CT Legislative Building for a screening of Libby's new documentary, Playground. I'm confident that this documentary will play an important role for our CT legislators in detailing the realities of children who are exploited through child sex trafficking.
Wednesday, March 17th at 10am
Legislative Office Building, Room 1B
Hartford, CT 06106
DOCUMENTARY FILM “PLAYGROUND”
A Film Screening Sponsored by Senator Robert Kane (R-32)
Introductory Remarks by Senator Robert Kane, sponsor of S.B.153 “Safe Harbor for Exploited Children” and Filmmaker Libby Spears
Directed by Libby Spears
Executive produced by George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Steven Soderbergh
This poignant documentary about the commercial sexual exploitation of children in America has been screened around the country. Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) have not only seen the film but have been inspired to act. Senator Ron Wyden has introduced the “Trafficking Deterrence and Victims Support Act of 2009,” which currently sits with the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Senator Durbin recently held a hearing regarding the commercial sexual exploitation of children in the United States.
The sexual exploitation of children is a problem that we tend to relegate to back-alley brothels in developing countries, the province of a particularly inhuman, and invariably foreign, criminal element. Such is the initial premise of Libby Spears’ sensitive investigation into the topic. But she quickly concludes that very little thrives on this planet without American capital, and the commercial child sex industry is certainly thriving. A meeting with Ernie Allen, President of the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children, confirmed to Libby what her research was beginning to uncover: that the trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation is every bit as real in North America. And this is where Playground really begins.
Spears intelligently traces the epidemic to its disparate, and decidedly domestic, roots—among them the way children are educated about sex, and the problem of raising awareness about a crime that is often carefully hidden. Her cultural observations are couched in the search for Michelle, an American girl lost to the underbelly of childhood sexual exploitation who has yet to resurface a decade later.