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When people hear that someone was trafficked, it is often assumed that they were kidnapped and forced into labor against their will. In reality, trafficking can be much more insidious. People are often exploited by someone they already know.
In this documentary film, we listen to the story of Cary Stuart who was lured into the world of trafficking by a “Romeo pimp.” In the film she reflects on her experience, the way it has impacted her, and the challenges of reintegration into society.
“Woman Rising” takes a broad look at human trafficking in Maine through the lens of survivor Cary Stuart. The film is intended to educate Maine residents and policymakers, as well as encourage community engagement to challenge common myths about human trafficking. Woman Rising covers topics including what is trafficking, its impact on survivors, and advocates for specialized services survivors need to live sustainable lives, including long-term housing, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, legal assistance, and education.
-The action: Write to your local, state, and federal offices. Let them know that you care about after care services for human trafficking survivors and ask what they are doing to address it.
-Featured in the film are: DA Jonathan Sahrbeck, Sergeant Tim Farris (Co-Founder Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking & Exploitation), Maine Coalition against Sexual Assault Program Director Jessica Bedard, Safe Voices Director of Shelter and Housing Noelle Coyne and Survivor Leader Cary Stuart.
Director Matilde Simas Statement: I directed and wrote this documentary film, “Woman Rising”, after working with Cary Stuart, an American sex trafficking survivor, over a three-year time frame, and in it, I strive to support Cary in reclaiming her truth, giving a voice to her resilience. In the film she reflects on her experience, the way it has impacted her, and the challenges of reintegration into society. Trafficked into ‘the life’ at just 23 years old, Cary spent the next 7 years isolated, beaten, drugged, and moved between states, forced to sell herself night after night to meet the quotas set by her pimps. Despite enduring the most difficult of circumstances, Cary emerged from the horrors of trafficking strong and determined to rewrite her story. That’s what I wanted to emphasize in telling her story.
Forced to Marry
Imagine you’re forced to flee your war-stricken country where armed conflict, economic decline, disease, and hunger are everyday struggles. You find refuge in a settlement along the border of a neighboring country, only to find an entirely new threat: being sold into marriage.
Over 80 percent of those fleeing the war in South Sudan are women and children. Children make up an astounding 63 percent of the total South Sudanese refugee population. Many find refuge just inside the border of Uganda, where they are protected from the war but face challenges such as limited access to food and water, poor sanitation and illness, forced recruitment into sexual slavery or armed groups, and forced marriage.
Forced to Marry explores the complex issue of forced marriage through the stories of four young girls in Uganda’s Imvepi Refugee Settlement. In their own words, they share their experiences and express concern for the lack of basic necessities, their desire to return to school and get an education, and the struggles of being young mothers.
Matilde, your work carries out the mission of photography at its best--to inspire, challenge, and provoke people into taking action for positive change. Thank you for sharing your work and many talents with the global community!
ArtWorks for Freedom
While the Ugandan government has been a relatively welcoming host to 1 million plus refugees (more than any other African country), it is a region facing economic hardship itself, and this inevitably trickles down and disproportionately impacts these already disenfranchised and vulnerable people attempting to build new lives. Such an existence has put many of these young women and girls in the position of being forced into marriage and their increased vulnerability puts them at greater risk of being trafficked – see a short video at the end of the article that follows several of them on such journeys.
Mattie’s words, but more importantly her photos, capture the essence of such an existence with undeniable clarity and strength. Her ability to express the fortitude, perseverance, and simultaneous suffering of these women and children is startling.
Next public screening:
September 14, 2022
September 14, 2022
Lisbon Film Rendezvous
LACS - Creative Cluster
Rocha Conde de Óbidos, Lisboa
Lisbon, Lisbon 1150-303
United Nations AFF Reflections International Documentary Film Festival
October 20-30, 2022
Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, San Francisco, and Stanford University.
March for Children’s Rights Rally
March for Children’s Rights Rally, organized by a non-profit named Keeping Kids Safe. Listening to advocate and survivor of human trafficking Selina Deveau was powerful. District Attorney Jonathan Sahrbeck also spoke about this serious issue. It’s a big surprise to many that sex trafficking operations capture an estimated 200 to 300 Maine victims every year, said Sahrbeck.
Human trafficking is an issue that touches every community, including cities, suburbs, and rural towns—and there is something each of us can do to help prevent it. The Department of Homeland Security’s Blue Campaign provides plenty of opportunities for individuals or organizations to raise awareness about human trafficking.
What can you do?Lend your time, talent, and skills to the movement. Volunteer to mentor young girls and boys to foster self-respect, as well as respect for women. Reduce your slavery footprint by only consuming products that are fair trade or have traceable supply chains.
Let Me Be Brave: Story of Limb Loss
Amen, a rambunctious, 4-year-old boy from the outskirts of Addis Abba, Ethiopia. He was born with a limb difference on his right leg below the knee. Amen and his family are one of the hundreds of families living in rural areas, where low literacy rates are common, internet accessibility is scarce, and modern health services are expensive.
Amen is the only child in his family born with a limb difference, and accessing affordable prosthetic care is a financial hardship for his family. Amen’s mother, Hiwot, also shares, “People are not open about disability in our community, and I want that to change.” Her hope is that when they go home, people in the community will see her son's improved lifestyle and their perceptions about people with a disability will change.
Children who have undergone amputations or are born with limb difference are often hidden at home often without the knowledge of neighbors or friends knowing they exist. “This needs to change,” Hiwot says. “At home, [Amen] is a normal boy and does everything other children do,” she says. “He goes to school, plays soccer, and does not require help from anyone. That’s because we treat him the same. We do not hide him and we are not ashamed of him.”
Over the course of a week, Amen and Hiwot received mentorship, a free prosthesis, and information on prosthetic care. Thanks to the Limb Kind Foundation and the CURE Ethiopia Children's Hospital, Amen is back to enjoying his freedom and continues to be encouraged by his family.
Show Your Shine: First Adaptive Fashion Show
Oceanside and Rockville Centre community members rallied behind 25 people with limb loss and limb differences on Jan. 11 for the Limb Kind Foundation’s inaugural “Show Your Shine” adaptive runway event. Held at Oceanside Jewish Center, the adults and children with limb differences came from across North America — 12 states and Canada — to strut the stage as models for the night in an inspiring and moving fashion show that “shined light” on their physical differences.
Philippines: Children with Limb Loss
Limb Kind Foundation: Giving Children a chance to be Independent
Paralympic Athlete: On a mission to Change Lives
Checkout another great short video created by Capture Humanity for Limb Kind Foundation. This short features Paralympic swimmer, runner and triathlete from the USA, Rudy Garcia-Tolson during a life changing Limb Kind trip in the Philippines.
Atlas of Humanity: Using Photography as Activism
A short video shot in Paris at the Atlas of Humanity Exhibition and some scenes of Capture Humanity Founder, Matilde Simas exploring the beautiful city!