Americans who are shocked by sex trafficking in foreign countries need to know how much of it is going on here at home, says the director of the movie “8 Days,” which shines a light on the extent of the hideous crime in America.
“We focus so much on foreign problems, as if we don’t have those problems ourselves,” Jaco Booyens told FOX411. “This is a $30.2 billion industry globally, and one-third of that is attributed to the United States. We always send missionaries to other countries, but we need a lot of philanthropic work done here in our country.”
“8 Days,” shot by a team of independent filmmakers at After Eden Pictures, is not a documentary. It’s a feature film, based on actual events, that depicts the modern-day slavery of children across the United States. It is being rolled out in cities across the country, emphasizing the importance of anti-trafficking laws.”
“In most states, girls don’t talk and we don’t hear about it because they are prosecuted,” Booyens said. “No neighborhood is immune. Your social status, class, religion or race does not matter. This crime doesn’t discriminate; it doesn’t care about what car you drive or your zip code.”
To hammer home his point, Booyens noted that one of the most esteemed neighborhoods in the nation — Highland Park, Texas, where President George W. Bush used to live and where Dick Cheney maintains a residence — recorded 13 cases of trafficking last year.
“People often don’t understand,” Booyens said. “They hear human trafficking and automatically view it as putting people in a van and driving them across the border. We needed to paint an accurate portrait of this.”
He said one of the most crucial components of the film is simply making audiences fully aware of what sex trafficking actually is.
“This is sex slavery,” he said. “Slavery didn’t end with the 13th Amendment. There are more slaves today than there has ever been in history.”
According to the United Nations, 20 per cent of all detected victims in 2003-2006 were children. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage had risen to 27 per cent. Trafficking from East Asia remains the most conspicuous globally.
Unlike most Hollywood-connected productions, the filmmakers behind “8 Days” aren’t looking to pad their own checkbooks. The production team is selecting a local organization that will benefit from the fundraising initiatives at each city’s premiere. The organizations will use these funds to rescue and rehabilitate victims and to build and expand safe homes.
Booyens said this has been an effective marketing tool in engaging local press, policymakers and law enforcement and in encouraging citizens to donate funds.
Ultimately, the team behind “8 Days” hopes the movie forces people to confront an uncomfortable reality and be driven to make a difference.
“What surprised me the most was that the U.S. leads the world in the youngest age where kids get trafficked,” Booyens said. “In the United States it is 12. The world average is 15.
“The youngest case I was exposed to was a girl who was 3 years old. You’re talking about a 3-year-old being used as a sex slave for up to 30 men a day. Evil is real and it is in our own backyard.”
Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay