Documentary exposes human trafficking

Special showing planned Sunday in Kalispell

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On Sunday, the Flathead Abolitionist Movement and a host of other local organizations present “Call+Response,” a documentary film that goes deep undercover to expose the global slave trade.

Scheduled for 3 p.m. at Flathead High School, this free “rockumentary” reveals that an estimated 27 million people worldwide are held in compelled service. It coincides with the president’s recent declaration of January as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.

Local event organizer Diane Yarus called the statistics shocking.

“There are more slaves in bondage today than ever before,” she said. “In 2007, slave traders made more money than Google, Nike and Starbucks combined.”

Yarus, a member of the Soroptimist International Club of Kalispell, said most slaves are kidnapped or coerced out of poor neighborhoods and forced to work as prostitutes, labor camp and factory workers, domestic servants and soldiers.

“The vast majority are women and children,” she said. “The U.S. State Department says as many as 17,500 slaves are trafficked into this country every year.”

Linda Regnier of Lakeside and Flathead High School student Tierney Strandberg will introduce the film. Regnier witnessed slavery as a humanitarian volunteer in Nepal, India and Thailand.

Strandberg started a club for students dedicated to ending global slavery and aiding victims.

Regnier said she became a volunteer after discovering the Emancipation Network on the Internet.

She worked from October to February last year teaching English to women rescued from prostitution.

“I was hoping it would help women have a better chance at employment,” Regnier said. “Sometimes these rescued women just languish in government shelters.”

During her stay, she was aware of numerous raids on brothels.

“It can be incredibly dangerous. These people are desperate to keep their livelihood,” she said. “It’s the second largest illicit business in the world.”

When openings are available, women go to rescue centers where they learn handicrafts as a way to earn a living. Some of those products will be offered for sale at the showing.

Regnier, Yarus, Strandberg and others recently created the Flathead Abolitionist Movement to inform the public about human trafficking and to highlight abolition work and these victim assistance organizations.

“Call+Response” features actors Julia Ormond, Ashley Judd and Daryl Hannah, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof, civil rights luminary Dr. Cornel West and others. From the child brothels of Cambodia to the slave brick kilns of rural India, they offer firsthand accounts of the modern-day slave trade.

Award-winning musicians Switchfoot, Moby, Natasha Bedingfield, Five For Fighting, Cold War Kids, Matisyahu, Emmanuel Jal, Imogen Heap, Talib Kweli, members of Nickel Creek and Rocco DeLuca lend their voices and songs to the cause.

This one-time-only Kalispell screening was arranged to raise community awareness of this growing problem worldwide, including the United States.

 The director of “Call+Response,” musician Justin Dillon, learned about modern-day slavery while performing in Russia.

His translator, a young girl, told him about an exciting job promised to her in the West. He investigated and found it was a phony trick to trap the girl.

Upon returning to the United States, he decided to act.

“I was infuriated that here in the 21st century, there are people living as slaves, with no hope, no options and no future,” Dillon said.

Released in October by Fair Trade Pictures, the documentary is rated PG-13. For information visit www.callandresponse.com.

Following the showing, organizers plan to provide an opportunity for the audience to respond to the shocking truths it reveals and to make a difference.

On Feb. 14, the Flathead Abolitionist Movement has scheduled a panel discussion, “Slavery: Here and Now,” by witnesses to slavery at the international, national and local level.

It begins at 3 p.m. at Glacier High School. For more information, call Yarus at 751-2175.

Reporter Candace Chase may be reached at 758-4436 or by e-mail at cchase@dailyinterlake.com.

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