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The Arts

Latchis Theatre to screen documentary

‘Not My Life’ benefit for anti-human trafficking organization Polaris Project

BRATTLEBORO—Over its 10 years, Polaris has worked to raise awareness of human trafficking and build infrastructure to eradicate the practice.

The organization has trained law enforcement and worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, Department Of Defense, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other non-government organizations (NGOs).

The Latchis will sponsor two benefit screenings of the documentary “Not My Life” on October 6 and 7 at 4 p.m.

The event will benefit ev the National Human Trafficking Hotline (1-888-3737-888) operated by Polaris Project, leading anti-human trafficking organization (www.PolarisProject.org). The introduction and question-and-answer will be hosted by Mei-Mei Ellerman, Ph.D., Polaris Board Member, Emerita.

According to a press release from Ellerman, “today, over 20 million individuals — children, women, and men — are trapped in modern slavery in every country on the planet. Human trafficking is the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry, driven by profit [billions of dollars per year], and the demand [for cheap labor and products, and sex].”

“Not My Life,” by Oscar Nominee Robert Bilheimer is narrated by Glenn Close and focuses on the trafficking of children worldwide. Over four years and five continents, the film examines the diversity “of one of the worst forms of human rights abuse in our times, and many of the underlying issues.”

Co-founders Derek Ellerman and Katherine Chon named the Polaris Project after the North Star that guided early-American slaves north.

Mei-Mei Ellerman said Polaris’ “holistic and comprehensive” approach to the issue and helping victims of trafficking contributes to the organization’s success.

The government awarded Polaris the National Human Trafficking Hotline number, 1-888-3737-888, in 2007.

The greatest volume of calls to the hotline number comes from California. The state with the second highest volume is Texas. Texas requires establishments serving alcohol to post the number. This includes brothels masquerading as other businesses, such as cantina bars and massage parlors, said Ellerman.

Some calls have come from Johns reporting children working in the brothels.

Despite feeling it’s acceptable to pay for an adult prostitute, something “stirred their conscience” when they witnessed children in the brothels, said Ellerman.

Polaris aims to create a single global anti-trafficking hotline number, said Ellerman.

In honor of Polaris Project’s 10th anniversary, Ellerman has made a personal pledge to raise $300,000 for the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

She has raised more than $27,000 so far.

“The call volume is exploding,” said Ellerman in a press release. “As all the government agencies such as HHS, DOJ, DOD, the FBI, and Immigration, as well as many states and other agencies, are putting out our number as the one to contact: 1-888-3737-888.”

“We have already increased the team of first responders three-fold since late 2008 and desperately need to hire and train many more individuals,” she said.

To learn more about the film, visit www.notmylife.org.

To donate to Polaris as part of Ellerman’s pledge, visit https://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5417/t/12125/my/donate.jsp?supporter_my_donate_page_KEY=3486.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #172 (Wednesday, October 3, 2012).

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