Monterey Media releases Trade of Innocents on October 5th, 2012 at the Quad Cinema.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you find the right balance in your life between acting, family and activism?
Mira Sorvino: It’s always a crazy juggling act because there’s always something in the air. I have 4 kids now, a baby who’s 4 ½ months old, I’m an actress and I’m also a very committed activist. I’m a UN Goodwill Ambassador who combats human trafficking, so that takes up a lot of my time. And then, in addition to that, I do a lot of personal activism on reforming U.S. state legislation on human trafficking, especially the sex trafficking of minors. The U.N. is usually internationally-looking, so, on the domestic side, I felt like I needed to address the issue in terms of state laws that don’t adequately serve victims or punish perpetrators. Safe Harbor laws are incredibly crucial and I really push them a lot. They basically decriminalize in commercial sexual exploitations so they’re not seen further as the perpetrator of the crime of prostitution; instead they’re seen as the victim of human trafficking. The pimps and, sometimes, the johns, are the trafficker. They receive much higher sentencing while the child or teenager is decriminalized, their records are expunged and they are given access to all kinds of services they need to rebuild their lives. Without a Safe Harbor law, what happens is: a kid is caught in the act, arrested for prostitution and the john is almost never arrested. I spoke to the head of an NGO in Washington D.C. who said that in 300 cases of children being brought in for prostitution charges by law enforcement, none of the johns were even arrested. If a john commits the same act with a child in Thailand, federal laws will get them. They will be arrested and serve a prison sentence of 25 years, but in the U.S., probably nothing will happen to them as long as they pay the fines for it.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Where do you think apathy toward important issues like human trafficking comes from in our society?
MS: A lot of it comes from inurement due to so much violence shown in the media either in the news or in fictionalized form. We’ve gotten so used to violence that we don’t recognize its reality anymore. So, it has an entertainment value but not a human value to us anymore. I remember as a child that I was freaking out when on a news show one day, they showed a high-speed pursuit on the L.A. freeway and then they shot the guy at the end and they said that he fell down and died. I couldn’t stand the fact that the TV had shown me somebody dying. I don’t think most people think of it that way, but I was horrified. We just get bombarded with violence or news of violence and I think it just becomes a sensory overload, so we shut down and it’s hard to find empathy. In terms of the sex trafficking of children which Trade of Innocents addresses beautifully, you see how the children are depicted as kind human beings rather than bad kids. I think that, unfortunately, there is this lense that people view prostitution as no good or doing it because they’re evil or bad or that they wanted it. Money has no value to a child. A 10 year old who’s involved in sex trafficking cares about bubblegum, comfort, a place to sleep and things like that. If they’re performing a sex act, there’s no way in the world that they have ideated that money is being traded for this. They’re being exploited. An older teenager, if there’s any reason for doing what they’re doing it’s that they have no other options. They are runaway or throwaway kids, and there’s a view that they’re fallen angels. Society kind of forgets about them or dismisses them. It’s the most amazing thing to meet survivors human trafficking, but to meet child or teenage survivors and see how full of life, potential and hope they are, I just start crying whenever I talk to them. They are so human and so like everybody else on this planet. They need what all of us need: love, support, a place to live, a place to learn and a safe environment. These people can do some many amazing things if they’re given a hand out of the life that they’re in.