In the European Union (EU), the intense, daily preoccupation with the consequences of massive immigration has created an awareness gap with respect to the most dangerous consequence of all: human trafficking, and a perfect storm of vulnerability that will allow organized crime to prey on children and their families arriving on Europe’s shores for months and years to come. “The traffickers have already begun their feast,” notes one Italian police official. “They are circling like vultures and it is only going to get worse. Last year alone, more than 5,000 children disappeared from reception centers here in Italy, and we have no idea where they are.”
Worse, indeed. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts that the EU can expect more than a million vulnerable and displaced people in the near future, creating the prospect of a continent that is ground zero for global human trafficking crimes: a business model for evil, with children at the center of the plan.
Working with, or within, the mafia and other criminal networks, EU traffickers are particularly ruthless and powerful. Numbering over 30,000 facilitators, agents, and middlemen, they are kidnapping children for labor, sex, begging, and other forms of servitude. Many of these children are-- or will be born-- stateless and are denied the basic rights most people take for granted, leaving them especially vulnerable to exploitation. Add to this the forcing of women into prostitution rings, and the luring or coercion of men into menial jobs without pay, and one sees a continent increasingly populated with slaves-- most of them young-- and the flourishing and entrenchment of an organized crime business whose profits already number in the tens of billions of Euros. It is a dangerous, even catastrophic scenario that EU member states and Europeans from all walks of life ignore at their peril.
The image of 3 year-old Aylan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach, shook the world, and prompted many to action. Likewise, the intent of Heart of the Matter is to use powerful images and storytelling to open the hearts and minds of the international public as to the real and ongoing danger human traffickers pose to Europe’s rapidly swelling immigrant population in the years ahead. By closing the awareness gap; raising the level of public discourse; and making connections that are not presently being made, the producers of Not My Life believe human lives can be saved, and the perfect storm of vulnerability in which the criminals now operate can become a perfect storm of awareness, vigilance, and compassion instead.
To learn more about Heart of the Matter, please visit http://notmylife.org/hom
Worldwide Documentaries is a non-profit documentary film production company focusing on global human rights issues. Throughout its 30 year history, the organization has engaged in some of the defining human rights issues of our time: the injustice of apartheid, the devastation of AIDS, and the ubiquitous and unspeakable horrors of human trafficking and modern slavery.
Worldwide’s philosophy is that carefully-crafted films can have a transformative effect on global audiences, and thus influence the course of history. Hundreds of millions of people, in nearly every country in the world, have seen-- and responded to-- Worldwide's productions.
Amy Detweiler is the Co-Producer and Distribution Manager at Worldwide Documentaries.
Photo Credit: "Bouchara" NRC / Sam Tarling