Member of ‘150 Women Who Shake the World’ in Australia with a powerful message
American documentary-maker and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) expert Libby Spears arrives in Australia today with a powerful message.
“Commercial exploitation of children is not just a third world problem.
“The USA has a thriving child sex industry. The same is true of Australia,” she says.
“Nations like America and Australia must deal with the problem in their own backyard if they are to hold others accountable on an international level.”
The focus of Libby’s visit is the Australian premiere of her film ‘Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America’, which will be screened in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
Executive produced by George Clooney and Abigail Disney, the film is critically acclaimed and has been screened around the world, including many times at the US Congress.
‘Playground’ takes a sensitive look at the underground epidemic of young children being forced into prostitution in USA, where some 100,000 children are trafficked each year, and where more than 300,000 are ‘at risk’.
Libby has also spearheaded several Congressional hearings, and her advocacy work has helped shape legislation to better protect young victims of sexual exploitation in the USA.
Libby Spears is also the founder and Executive Director of NEST Foundation and the new community movement, Campaign 13, which advocates for an intelligent, holistic and urgent response to sex trafficking of minors in America.
CHEAPER TO SELL KIDS, THAN DRUGS
“Sadly, the commercial sex trade of children has increased because it is now more profitable and less risky to sell kids, than drugs,” she says.
“Demand is high because sales can be executed anonymously over the Internet.”
The US Department of Justice has said that Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children is the world’s fastest growing form of organised crime.
“We also know that in child pornography, of the 5.9 million pornographic images of children online that have been reported, only 874 children have been identified,” says Libby.
AUSTRALIA IS NOT IMMUNE
“I am here with a message that Australia is not immune to this.
“Sex trafficking in Australia remains severely under-reported and improperly understood.
“It is happening in your neighborhoods, as it ours, and it’s time we put more focus on it, upskill and empower our community to deal with it.”
A national online survey completed by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that 75% of respondents believed they would not be able to identify a trafficked person.
Overall, the survey revealed a high level of confusion regarding the definition and scope of the human trafficking issue facing the Australian community.
“People often associate the word ‘trafficking’ with something that happens overseas, or an act that involves moving people across borders. We need to understand that trafficking is any form of commercial sex act where the child is induced by force, fraud or coercion.”
RESEARCH IS BADLY NEEDED
Australia is trailing the rest of the western world when it comes to research and awareness regarding the sexual exploitation of children.
The last national inquiry was conducted in 1998 and published in ‘Youth for Sale’ by ChildWise, which found anecdotal evidence of more than 3000 cases of underage commercial sexual activity.
“We know that commercial sex exploitation of children has sky-rocketed in the past decade, so these figures would be significantly higher now in Australia,” says Libby.
In a report by the Australian Government ‘Tomorrow’s Children’ in 2000, it said that: “given the clandestine nature of the activity it is unlikely that Australia will ever truly have available, reliable national data relating to the prostitution of children and young people.
Alongside Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton, Libby Spears was recently named one of the ‘150 Women Who Shake the World’ by NewsWeek Magazine. Libby has more than 15 years’ experience producing and directing critically acclaimed films that can be seen in more than 100 countries around the world.
‘Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America’ will be screened in Brisbane on Thursday 2 October, in Sydney on Tuesday 7 October, and in Melbourne on Thursday 9 October. Each film screening will be followed by a Q&A with Libby Spears, and in Melbourne there will be a panel of experts including Joe Tucci from the Australian Childhood Foundation. More information and bookings are available here.
Libby is available for interviews while in Australia.
Please contact Julia Keady, firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 0412 628 036 for interviews, additional content or imagery.