TWIFF recently held a successful screening of a Ted Unarce film entitled Modern Day Slaves. This film captures the hardships of Filipino OFWs. It tells their heart wrenching stories and includes reenactments of the abuse suffered. Packed full of statistics and shocking portrayals, the audience left the film feeling enlightened and motivated to fight OFW exploitation.
What is an OFW? An Overseas Foreign Worker who typically takes the money made from working overseas and sends it back to their family. An OFW is subject to enduring troubles such as rape, abuse and low pay.
The film was screened to viewers who were able to ask questions to Ted Unarce after the documentary. In the audience were two FBI special agents who were able to provide more insight on this topic.
Supervisory Special Agent Steven Merrill supervises the FBI Trafficking Investigations in San Francisco. He said, “The FBI relies on victims and potential victims to provide their stories of exploitation to the FBI and law enforcements so we may initiate investigations.”
Once FBI learns of possible mistreatment of a worker, FBI works with other branches of law enforcement to prosecute the criminals. The vital signs of human trafficking which are the catalyst to an investigation are “a) workers not being free to leave; b) workers having their identity papers taken from them; c) workers being coerced to work; d) workers being held against their will; e) workers being physically harmed, or having family being threatened; or f) workers having to pay off a debt,” said SSA Merrill.
The prosecution of such criminals can be expedited with civilian help. If someone knows of a person being subjugated to such abuse, it is to everyone’s advantage that the authorities are informed. SSA Merrill concluded, “Furthermore, law enforcement relies on the cooperation of the victims in human trafficking cases to help prosecute the criminals exploiting OFWs and other workers. With a partnership, the law enforcement can help deter human trafficking and help the exploited workers from harm.”
In the comment below, please tell us how you would feel if someone you knew was subject to such cruelty. How would you handle this situation?