Amnesty International Shows the Documentary “Playground”
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012 13:02
On Feb. 7, I had the honor of attending an event put on by the Salem State chapter of Amnesty International. The event was a showing a documentary called "Playground," which was directed by Libby Spears and executive produced by George Clooney.
The documentary focused on human trafficking, child prostitution, and child pornography within the United States and Canada. The underlying theme of the film is that these terrible practices are going on right under our noses, and that it's time we increase the public's awareness.
This documentary combines case studies, interviews with professionals, and shocking statistics to define and explain child prostitution and pornography. While the majority of the information comes from Oregon, British Columbia, and Georgia, we are reminded that these situations happen all over the country and the world— sometimes in our own backyards.
"Playground" urges the American public to open their eyes and be aware of what's happening to the nation's children. Perhaps one of the most disturbing statistics is that: "1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys are sexually victimized by the age of 18" (Playground). It is troubling to know that so many children are exploited, molested, or even raped.
Along with explaining the issues of human trafficking and child pornography, "Playground" follows the case of "Michelle," a girl who becomes entangled in the world of child prostitution and goes missing only to be found nearly a decade later.
Michelle, who grew up in the foster care system, endured several years of prostitution in her early to mid-teens after a pimp picked her up.
However, after all the experiences she endured, Michelle talked about her life calmly and distantly, describing even the most graphic memories with a stoical expression. This was perhaps the most shocking part of the film to me—the fact that a young woman who had gone through so many traumatic experiences seemed unshaken in her interview.
The documentary opened my eyes to the stark reality of human trafficking in this country. "Playground" is meant to be a heavy, disturbing film that unsettles us into awareness.
It is important for us to realize that human trafficking is not limited to third world countries, and that prostitution is not limited to consenting adults. We assume that such issues do not concern us, but the point of the documentary, and of Amnesty International, is to expose the reality of them.
Amnesty International, an international movement devoted to ending human rights abuses, deals with far more than human trafficking, though. It covers all aspects of human rights, including women's rights, LGBT rights, censorship and free speech, and children's rights. Its website is amnestyusa.org.
Salem State University recently started its own chapter of this group. If you are interested in joining and have a passion for human rights, please contact student Melissa Carella at firstname.lastname@example.org.