Get the virtual experience! Explore the rooms in SOLD: The Human Trafficking Experience.
USA - Farm
Welcome to Washington State. Famous for its fine wine and delicious apples, Central Washington has many excellent jobs for skilled farm workers. But when greed intercedes, a recruiting company focused on dollars rather than humans can turn a dream job into a nightmare.
It is estimated that 14 to 18 thousand men, women, and children from all over the world are tricked or coerced into slavery in the United States each year. The US Federal government is currently prosecuting its largest human trafficking case to date. It began with a recruitment company called Global Horizons that showed a deceptive and enticing promotional video to thousands of impoverished and desperate men in Thailand. Hear one Thai man's story.
USA - Motel
Welcome to your neighborhood. Around 300,000 American-born women, girls, and boys are commercial sex slaves in the United States, with up to 100,000 new victims every year. They are in massage parlors, residential brothels, hostess and strip clubs, escort services, truck stops, street prostitution, online classifieds and pornography. The average age of entry is 13 years old. Hear one girl's story of broken promises and lies that bind.
Welcome to South Sudan, the newest country in the world. South Sudan shares a border with Uganda, the birthplace of the Lord's Resistance Army or LRA. The LRA is a a senseless and violent organism, perpetuating itself by abducting children and terrorizing them into becoming brutal killers. Since December 2009 alone, the LRA has been responsible for nearly 1500 abductions and 800 civilian deaths.
The LRA has currently been pushed out of Uganda and operates from several bases in the neighboring countries of the DRC, the CAR, and the Republic of South Sudan. There are hundreds of thousands of children exploited in state-run armies, paramilitaries, and rebel groups in at least 14 conflicts in the world today. Coerced, enticed or abducted, these children serve as combatants, porters, spies, human mine detectors and sex slaves. Child soldiering has been called the cruelest form of slavery because it incorporates forced physical labor, subjection to war, and sexual exploitation. Hear the story of one of these children.
Welcome to Jordan, one of the few Gulf region countries that has traditionally had close relations with the United States. According to the US State Dept, Asian men and women encounter conditions of forced labor in some of Jordan's garment factories. This includes unlawful withholding of passports, delayed payment of wages, forced overtime, and verbal and physical abuse.
According to the 2011 TIP report, garment factories in Jordan may be on the mend. Fewer managers are holding their worker's passports, and fewer complaints are being made to the garment worker's union. But accessing legal remedies to the abuse is still difficult.
In June 2011, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights released a report revealing working conditions at Classic Brands factory in Jordan, where clothing is produced for major American brands. Hear the story of a garment worker at this factory.
Welcome to India: Home of the world's second largest population. India is also home to hundreds of thousands of brick kilns where men, women, and children work in debt bondage. 15 million slaves work in brutal conditions in these kilns. They all work under bonded labor. It begins with a small cash advance from the brick owner with an agreement to work until the debt is paid off. But rather than decreasing, the original amount increases as food, housing, and interest are added to their costs. Most of the bonded laborers are illiterate. They cannot read a contract and do not know what rate of interest is being charged on the loan. Not even death can break the debt, which is passed on from parent to child through generations. This is illegal in India, and has been for 20 years. Yet this traditional feudal system continues. Hear the story of one of these modern-day vassals.
Welcome to Mexico, a nation rich in tradition, history, culture, and natural beauty. Mexico produces unrivaled handicrafts and a varied and colorful cuisine. It is also home to powerful drug cartels that control entire towns and make Mexican streets their battlefields. With a Robin Hood reputation, these cartels recruit mainly children and teenagers. They give these youth a glimpse of opportunity and a future. But their dream turns out to be a nightmare as teenagers armed with assault rifles are turned into assassins and mules for trafficking drugs in the midst of brutal violence.
Mexican drug-funded gang wars have crossed into Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. As Project: AK-47 reports: "No movie could ever exaggerate, over sensationalize or be overly graphic in its depiction of what is currently happening in Mexico. Reality is much harsher than fiction." Hear the story of a teenage assassin.
Welcome to Haiti: the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti was once a French colony filled with slaves who fought and died for their freedom. Hundreds of slave rebellions occurred in the New World. But the Haitian revolution of 1791 was the first successful slave revolt and a defining moment in history. Now, history has been reversed by an insidious practice called restavek.
Restavek is a Creole word meaning "to stay with." Children of poor families or without parents are sent to live with a relative, friend, or a stranger in hope of a better life. They hope they can go to school in exchange for helping the family around the house. They almost never get that opportunity. Instead they are treated as property, used however it is most convenient for their owners. They say it is not the work that is so difficult - it is the isolation. The inferior treatment. The lack of belonging. Hear one boy's story of being a restavek.
There are many factors that play into the use of child soldiers in Yemen: poverty, ongoing violence for more than 40 years, cultural views of adolescents, and one of the highest percentages of youth in the world. Ongoing unrest, lack of rule of law in rural areas, and Muslim extremist sympathies combine to make Yemen a welcoming place for radical jihadists, including al Qaeda.
The recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 in armed conflict is an international war crime. According to the United Nations, "child soldiers are victims ... regardless of how they are recruited. ... The participation [of children] in conflict bears serious implications for their physical and emotional well-being." Human trafficking includes the use of child soldiers because they are legally too young to make the decision to participate in armed conflict.
When presented with opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have - whether by government military, militias, or terrorists - children are easily swayed to participate in something that will have lifelong consequences both physically and psychologically. Hear the story of one child who jumped at that chance.
Welcome to Cambodia, a nation devastated by the Khmer Rouge reign of terror. Up to 3 million people died from genocide or related disease and starvation from 1975 to 1979, and the country still suffers from its effects. Abject poverty, corrupt government and law enforcement, and a moral vacuum allow Cambodia to supply children to meet the demand of many of the world's pedophiles. Sex tourism is a mainstay of the nation's economy. Hear the story of one sweet little girl treated like garbage.