A haunting video called ‘Enjoy the Ride’ released by Krewella, a band performing Electronic Dance Music, raises awareness about Human Trafficking by telling the story of two children (a boy and a girl) who have been sold into slavery.
The video, directed by K. Tanch, takes the viewer into the world of a steam-punk influenced carnival where a young girl has been labeled as a “brand new act”. The scene flickers to a little girl, shivering with her arms wrapped around her knees, sitting on a pile of flimsy hay while held captive in a metal cage.
“Enjoy the Ride” exposes the horrors of child trafficking and human slavery… a worldwide problem that is often hidden in plain sight. Many victims of human trafficking do not receive help because people do not recognize the signs, or are reluctant to come forward. More public awareness is needed to bringing perpetrators to justice and bringing victims out of exploitation – and “Enjoy the Ride” not only raises awareness but does so by targeting a younger audience who is statistically more vulnerable to exploitation. 50% of all people trafficked are children. Of that number, according to a study conducted in 2014, an estimated 1 out of 6 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children were likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 68 percent were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.
In the video, Krewella watches the circus from a video monitor, witnessing the suffering of the children and the cruelty of their captors. Equally as disturbing is the nameless, faceless audience in white who has bought tickets to watch the spectacle the children have become. Sitting among the audience is a small boy wearing a human like mask with what looks like a padlock around his neck, being held prisoner in plain sight. The mask symbolizes the mind control involved in trafficking or abuse of any kind – that victims are so controlled that the face they project the world often does not reflect the ugly, painful reality of their life.. or the scars they carry beneath the facade. And this is the ugly truth about human trafficking is that many victims are living among our communities, our neighborhoods, working in local businesses – and their presence goes undetected. Or often, perpetrators are protected because they are esteemed in the community, hold power or intimidate people to keep silent.
The little boy is so captivated by the dance of the enslaved little girl that he takes off the mask… and smiles. In his miserable world, he experiences a rare sense of joy.
And then the video takes a turn when two people in the crowd make efforts to free the poor children. The first is a man who attacks one of the captors, causing a distraction. While the audience is in an uproar, another man works to free the boy in the audience. Interesting symbolism – the second man who took this daring act to save the little boy sits in the audience, wearing all white just like everyone else. But this man is different because has what looks like a bright yellow sun painted over one eye. This man defies what is expected of him, he sees a dark side of his world that everyone has turned a blind eye to.
The boy in turn frees the little girl who was featured as a circus act and the two run away from the circus together… discovering a EDM dance party in the woods where Krewella is performing.
Around the party video monitors continue to flicker.. exposing other injustices occurring in the world. That is symbolically contrasted with an image portraying those who “sleep”, and allow the suffering to continue by doing nothing.
The message I took from “Enjoy the Ride” is that suffering, cruelty, injustice and oppression will continue unless people wake up, and take a stand against it…whether that be working to help victims, holding perpetrators accountable or working to change or reform systems that are corrupted.
I won’t reveal the ending of the video but I will say… that for me, this video is unforgettable.
FACTS ON HUMAN TRAFFICKING:
Human Trafficking is a form of modern day slavery that denies freedom, and degrades 20-30 million people around the world, who are exploited and held against their will. Victims of human trafficking are forced, tricked or misled into slavery. Trafficking is ongoing exploitation that generates profits.
Human Trafficking comes in many forms including:
*Forced sexual exploitation (including prostitution and pornography)
*State imposed forced labor working in prisons, camps or conditions that violate labor standards
*Forcing children to become soldiers perpetrated by oppressive governments, rebel groups or extremist groups
*Forced marriage where victims are forced to enter into a marriage against their will or consent, often under the threat of violence if they refuse. Victims who resist or refuse marriages are often subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, confinement or even death at the hands of family or community members. After marriage, victims are at a higher risk for domestic violence, rape, infant and maternal mortality and suicide.
*Victims are also trafficked so that their tissue, cells and organs can be sold or harvested. Trafficking for organ removal has been found in 16 countries around the world, though these numbers may be higher.
Sex trafficking represents 80% of all human trafficking. In the United States, approximately 300,000 children are at risk of being sex trafficked.
Human Trafficking is one of the largest international criminal enterprises along with illegal drugs and gun running.
WARNING SIGNS OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING:
- Child stopped attending school or not enrolled in school
- Evidence of scarring or marks on body. Bruises or wounds in various stages of healing.
- Child shows signs of abuse or neglect
- Person shows signs of being denied or deprived of food, shelter, medical care
- Person appears coached on what to say
- Person not allowed to speak for themselves. Or not allowed to speak to others.
- Person appears isolated or has limited freedom of movement. Person may not be able to leave freely. May have to frequently report or check in to another individual. Reports fear or anxiety when making choices, attempting to go out in public.
- High security around living or working conditions. I.e. presence or guards or monitors, boarded up windows or doors, security cameras, restricted or no public access, barbed wire etc
- Works excessively long or unusual hours, especially if a child.
- Underpaid or paid very little, often through tips alone. Pay be taken or seized. Pay may used to repay a debt that never seems to be erased.
- Under 18 and involved in commercial sex acts, pornography or sexual exploitation
Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.
You may also consider: Polaris Project – Recognize the Signs of Human Trafficking
HOW YOU CAN HELP:
Call the National Human Trafficking Hotline toll-free hotline at 1-888-373-7888: Anti-Trafficking Hotline Advocates are available 24/7 to take reports of potential human trafficking. All reports are confidential and you may remain anonymous. Interpreters are available. Or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).
To report missing children or child pornography, submit a report to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678) or through their Cybertipline.