Published December 04, 2013
Modern-day slavery is very much alive right here in our own backyard, according to a new feature-length documentary, "Tricked." Embedded with the Denver Vice squad and combing through Las Vegas, directors John-Keith Wasson and Jane Wells bring audiences right into the frightening fold as thousands of victims are trafficked throughout the United States each year to satisfy a $3 billion-a-year industry.
"I read an article stating that thousands of girls were being imported to the Super Bowl to provide sexual services to male fans.” Emmy-nominated filmmaker Jane Wells told FOX411. “I was startled. I had worked on human rights issues for years, but I had no idea of the extent of human trafficking in this country."
"Tricked" sheds light on all aspects of this disturbing trade -- featuring interviews with everyone from law enforcement officers, parents, and victims to the pimps who seem to see nothing wrong with their actions.
"The pimps were so open in talking to us and had very little fear of repercussion, which speaks to the crime and how 'normalized' it has become in our society," Wells said. "None of them could possibly admit they were inflicting harm."
And while the FBI did not list specific figures regarding the business, it notes that the industry today is "much more organized and violent" than it once was, and that traffickers often use violence such as gang rape to force youths to work for them and remain under their control.
That is a sad reality that one of the documentary subjects, survivor Danielle Douglas, knows all too well. During her first week of college, Douglas was invited to a party, where she met a man who soon became her boyfriend. Then he violently abused her and forced her into prostitution for two years.
"The stories of survivors are profoundly disturbing. Each one has a unique story to tell of how they were preyed upon," Wells said. "Trafficking is happening everywhere, every night, across America."
The film is a project of 3 Generations, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping survivors share their stories in order to build a means for the others to learn from their harrowing experiences. But aside from simply raising awareness about the issue, Wells hopes the film busts some antiquated myths surrounding the sex trade and paves the way for legislative changes.
"There are many myths that are deeply and reflexively ingrained in popular culture, like it is the world's oldest profession and boys will be boys. These myths do great harm to those who are forced into this industry," she said.
"They deflect our attention from the need for broad change. We need to change the laws around the whole industry. Police are too often still working on a system where the young woman has committed a crime even if she is under coercion. These women are the victims. They shouldn't be criminalized."
"Tricked" opens in select theaters December 13.