By Diamond Victoria
The theme of this year’s Open Book Project is becoming aware of injustice in the community. With this, Brookhaven College students, staff and faculty will learn about the reality of human trafficking by reading “A Crime So Monstrous” by E. Benjamin Skinner.
Delving into the world of human exploitation, last week’s Open Book event involved a screening of the documentary “In Plain Sight,” following the lives of those directly affected by the trafficking industry.
Karina Venzor, student, said the film was very educational. “You never know who you will encounter,” she said. This was the second in an eight-part series revolving around the Open Book Project this semester.
A glimpse into the world of sex trafficking, “In Plain Sight” follows the lives of victims of this degrading, underground slavery.
Flooded with interviews of survivors, the film aims to prompt a nationwide conversation on this well-kept secret. Tucked away behind numerous closed doors or hidden in plain sight, this crime goes seemingly unnoticed in this country.
The documentary begins by showing the humanity of those overlooked and disregarded who seek shelter on the streets or alleyways while many others draw a bath before settling into a warm bed.
Viewers listen to the exhausted hum of one woman’s voice while she stands on a street corner, hoping to explain to the audience that she took the hand given to her the only way she knew how. She continues by sharing intimate details of her childhood, one that was taken away from her at a very young age, after which she was herded quickly into a world of prostitution.
Though the majority of sex trafficking affects women and children, the film could have shed some light on the lesser-known cases of victimized men. Instead, it highlights men in a different light: as the inmates who need restructuring before returning to society.
The assertion made in the film by one community volunteer proves credible – prison is only a short-term solution for those found guilty of the crime of selling people for their own profit. This, however, is the only time the documentary pauses to reflect on the wellbeing of the men in the story.
Viewers may be too distracted by the raped, beaten and starved victims sharing their experiences, however, and the idea of restructuring the pimps and “johns” of the world is quickly dismissed.
The storyline of “In Plain Sight” isn’t just commentary after commentary of women breaking down into tears and sharing horrific stories. It answers the question, “What happens next?”
Several former trafficking victims foster battered and bruised women and girls in homes across the country, allowing them to heal and rediscover their childhoods. Many of those rehomed return to the world with a different perspective and self respect.
“In Plain Sight” takes an in-depth look at a crime the U.S. often sees as something that only happens elsewhere – something that is too heinous and foreign. It wants to educate and enlighten those who can’t see what is hidden in front of their eyes everyday.