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Mira Sorvino addresses CREW about Human Trafficking


Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino spoke to a packed house at the May meeting of CREW as part of the group’s signature luncheon series. Photo by Scott Baughman

Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino spoke to a packed house at the May meeting of CREW as part of the group’s signature luncheon series. Photo by Scott Baughman

United Nations Ambassador and Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino was the guest speaker at the May meeting of the Charlotte Chapter of Commercial Real Estate Women. Sorvino spoke to the packed house about scourge of human trafficking and how real estate agents are in a unique position to notice patterns that could be related to the problem.

WBTV’s Molly Grantham introduced Sorvino and emphasized her work with the Blue Heart Campaign to combat human trafficking.

“North Carolina ranks in the top ten states in human trafficking in the US and Charlotte is a hotbed for this issue,” Grantham said. “We can not combat this problem until we acknowledge it exists.”

Sorvino then took to the stage and discussed how she had even met with the Pope regarding the issue of human trafficking. She then recalled her journey to becoming the face of the issue.

“As a child I was enraged by seeing situations where one person was treated as an object or a possession by another. So much so, when I got to college I did my thesis on a racial conflict between Asian students and African students. Then I worked on a documentary in the former Soviet Union after graduation called Freedom to Hate and how glasnost and perestroika led to hate groups utilizing their new freedom of speech to promote hatred for Jews,” Sorvino recalled.

After leaving school she became an actress and was approached by Amnesty International to help the disappeared women of Juarez, Mexico.

“Under the canopy of violence against women I discovered human trafficking. I did not realize until then that slavery such as we had in the history of this country when it became illegal it just went underground and was even now still very profitable,” Sorvino said. “I spoke with two women who had survived sex trafficking and that changed my life forever. This is not something happening far away. It is happening now and in our country and we must work together to stop it.”

Sorvino said the Internet had only exacerbated the problem, as young girls were being taken and sold into online sex slavery all over the world. And she emphasized how the terminology was changing to better reflect how children were being used by the underworld.

“We don’t use the term Child Prostitute any more,” she said. “They are prostituted children. There is no blame toward the child, because there is no decision, no action on the part of the child. And the biggest problem for us here is that these aren’t only foreign children – these aren’t just Russian or Bulgarian women and children they are American children. We are cannibalizing our own children with this.”

Real estate agents, she said, are in a unique position to observe the situations that lead to human trafficking or the effects of it.

“All of you in the real estate business are in a prime position to notice something. If a block has plenty of inhabitants but they don’t seem to leave much except maybe when they are loaded into a bus, those are likely victims of human trafficking living right here amongst us,” Sorvino explained. “And there’s strange safety fencing with wire in the inside to keep people in instead of out, that’s a sign something is wrong.”

After many harrowing tales of immigrants forced into slavery, Sorvino’s speech dealt with what she called the heart of the problem.

“The only way that this stops is if the demand stops,” she said. “No one would be willing to exploit a child if there wasn’t someone willing to pay for it. Even if a man says I’m with one of the ones who is a free agent and I’m helping them achieve their goals and earn a good living as a sex worker. First of all, you can’t know because they cannot tell you. They are being beaten to make sure they smile and provide the service the client expects. It’s time for those practices to end because that’s no longer something you can point to and say this is how you are a big strong man. If you had your father take you to a brothel to initiate you into manhood or you had strippers or prostitutes come to your bachelor party it’s time to stop this. The victim here is not the man who was tempted into sin but the person whose body is being sold and forced to have abortions and treated as chattel. In the countries where prostitution is legalized you are empowering the pimps to hide the trafficking and then appear as legitimate businessmen who pay their taxes. But if you care about children, legalizing it is not the answer.”

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