“ We continue to see the devastating effects of sex trafficking, where services for survivors are as rare as programs that address the demand for their victimization. And if they are found, women are repatriated as a matter of first instance, or are locked in”shelters” that look more like prisons than the safe haven that a survivor needs.” —- Ambassador Luis Cdebaca at TIP report 2010
When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through coercion – that person is a victim of trafficking. Hundreds of thousands of individuals are trafficked across international borders each year, and many of them women and girls trafficked for the commercial sex trade. Traffickers often use sexual violence as a weapon against women, to keep them in compelled service, whether in a field, a factory, a brothel, a home., or a war zone. According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. Despite New York State’s landmark legislation, 2007 Anti-trafficking Bill and 2008 Safe Harbor Act, and a growing public awareness, there are few arrests and prosecutions of traffickers or “Johns”, and disturbingly frequent arrests of victims as prostitutes. Trafficking victims are often being detained in a trafficking “shelter” or jailed for violations that occurred as a direct result of being trafficked. Victims are often frightened to come forward for help, with the likelihood that they will be arrested, little hope that their traffickers will be brought to justice, and scant expectation of receiving the comprehensive service they need to break free. Lack of housing once they leave the traffickers’ control is chief among myriad reasons many do not seek help – only a small handful of shelter beds are available for trafficking victims.
“Regarding the pain of others” features stories of 3 sex trafficking victims in New York State, illuminating the effects of the broader global trafficking system. There are three different stages in this project:
1. Video :
A 5 minute video will be produced as an opening for a panel discussion on Sex Trafficking in New York City, hosted by the Sanctuary for Families on the International Women’s Day, March 8th 2011, at the Proshansky Auditorium, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, NYC. It will be a short documentary video featuring interviews with three identified sex trafficking victims in New York State.
There are reserved spots for NYU students at the panel discussion through RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Mobile application :
There will be three pieces, one for each victim’s story, excerpted from the interviews and made into voice messages that can be listened to via mobile phones. A phone number will be registered for this project and publicized to NYU students via online and flyers, as well as on a video screen display placed next to the video installation described below. The viewers can then dial the phone number to listen to the voice messages in random order.
3. art installation :
This part is an interactive video sculpture that plays 12 minutes of video of the survivors’ stories from the interviews. Symbolically, it represents a miniature shelter for victims of sex trafficking, where they would receive help, safety and new lives. Physically, this shelter is a robotic video sculpture driven by motors and spur gears, and incorporating a motion sensor, a video screen and a speaker. While the video plays in a constant loop, the shelter walks to find its viewer, stopping when its motion sensor detects the presence of the viewers in front of the video screen.
The walking shelter has both the practical reason to get attention and an audience, as well as possibly a more conceptual idea about a shelter coming to meet people and making a step forward to help its clients – the idea of two parties coming together for a solution, rather than the different dynamic of a victim going to a benefactor to ask for help.
– This team of Pei Fong Kuo & collaborators has been awarded for Tisch Interdisciplinary GSO Grant, Spring 2011
in Partnership with The Sanctuary for Families
Pei Fong Kuo & Collaborators
Saraswathi Anna Subbaraman, Michelle Mayer, Andy Baker, Mansee Kong, Michell J. Cardona, Mike Cohen