One million. This is the number of children enslaved by sex trafficking rings every year.
It is a shocking statistic, and one that Palmer Theological Seminary addressed last Tuesday when it hosted a screening of “Call + Response,” a documentary produced by Fair Trade Pictures in an effort to raise awareness and support for the approximately 4 to 27 million human trafficking victims around the world. The movie contained interviews with various philosophical and political figures including Dr. Cornel West and Madeleine Albright and featured performances by musical artists such as Nickel Creek, Switchfoot and Imogen Heap.
The idea behind the film’s title is that human suffering is a problem begging to be addressed, and that the call and response together can make beautiful music.
The documentary was screened at Palmer Seminary’s Woodruff Learning Center and was followed by a Q&A and discussion led by Pastor Jame Bolds. Bolds is on the board of directors for the anti-trafficking organization f.r.e.e international and is heavily involved in the abolitionist movement.
Bolds opened discussion by requesting that everyone present take a deep breath then asking the simple question, “How do you feel?”
The answers from the audience varied but were all equally weighted with intensity and emotion. “I feel very angry right now,” one man stated. Another asked in shock, “What kind of animals live among us that prey on children?” A woman stated simply, “I feel helpless.”
Bolds shared some of his own experiences fighting against human trafficking and slavery. “It is something…to see a 15 year old without a soul because it has been fundamentally burned out of her,” he said. “…there are nights I don’t sleep well because I have flashbacks.”
Human slavery in the United States and around the world is an ongoing problem that did not end with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. Many Americans are unaware of the scope of the problem, and for this reason films like “Call + Response” are essential for attaining an international perspective.
Students who wish to purchase the DVD or find information on how to join the fight against human trafficking can visit http://www.callandresponse.com.
How will you respond to the call?