Daryl Hannah's Mission: Ending Sex Slavery
Daryl Hannah tries on wigs to disguise her identity while filming her documeniary on sex slavery.
When most famous actors or actresses wear disguises, it's to hide themselves from over-zealous fans or the relentless paparazzi. But when Hollywood actress, Daryl Hannah, conceals her identity, it's because her life could be in danger. That's because Daryl is going undercover to document the disturbing truth about modern-day slavery. Experts say most of today's slaves are women and children, forced against their will to have sex with as many as 40 men per day.
Daryl Hannah has made it her personal mission to not only rescue these sex slaves from the pimps and madams who illegally own them, but to spread the word about the growing problem by making a documentary about the issue.
Using her own money and resources for the low-budget film, Daryl straps microphones to her body and carries a hidden camera as she travels to brothels around the world. Her goal in making the film is to shed light on the serious issue of sex slavery and save the innocent people being held hostage and raped for profit.
A Pedophile's Playground
The living conditions in brothels are usually grim and depressing. A bare mattress is often the only furnishing in the padlocked rooms.
There are cities all around the world known for their reputation as a pedophile's playground. Child sex abusers travel to these places because they know the laws against sex slavery are not enforced there.
Sex slavery happens all over the world -- in Thailand, India, Cambodia, the Philippines, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Guatemala, Bolivia, Honduras, Peru, South Asia, and more. But slavery isn't only an issue overseas. Between 14,000 and 17,500 people are trafficked into the United States every year. And just as they are on foreign soil, many of them are forced into sex slavery.
One of the most notorious safe havens for pedophiles is Cambodia. Inside the capital city of Phnom Penh is a village called Svay Pak, an area where girls as young as six are forced to perform sex acts. Because virgins are preferred by many customers, some of the children are forced to endure surgery to trick pedophiles into thinking they've never had intercourse.
Additionally, most pedophiles who rape these children do not use condoms. When a child gets pregnant, she is usually forced to have an abortion. Many times, these girls are required to have sex with customers the very next day.
Lured Into The World Of Slavery By False Promises
No matter where these sex slaves are being held, the circumstances are almost always the same. Many of them are lured away from home with promises of money or new jobs. While recruiters for the brothels tell older girls they can make money as hair dressers, waitresses, or nannies, younger children are sometimes unknowingly sold as sex slaves by their own families.
In these cases, an impoverished family may resort to putting their children to work. Sometimes the families think their kids will be doing innocent work, like selling trinkets on the beach. Other times, the family may have an idea their child is headed for a life as a sex slave. But no matter how the children are recruited, the story always ends the same. When they arrive, they quickly realize there are no jobs.
Instead, experts say most of the girls are immediately raped and brutalized into submission. If they do not comply, investigators have seen cases where pimps and madams starve the slaves, burn them with cigarettes, and beat them with electrical cords until they give in. In some instances, the young girls are drugged to keep them from escaping. The girls are told they have to pay off their debts, including the amount their owners paid for their travel, and the cost of "living."
Those who have seen the living conditions first hand say that several girls are usually forced to live together in one room, with bare mattresses on the floor and a padlock on the door. Some of the brothels have no toilets.
It Could Happen To Anyone
Experts say anyone could fall victim to sex slavery -- even Daryl Hannah. She shared her personal story with AMW about how she nearly fell victim to a sex slave operation when she was 17 years old.
Daryl says she had just moved to Los Angeles for college and didn't know anybody in town. She met a girl in a grocery store who made an interesting offer. Daryl says the girl told her she was going with five girls to Las Vegas to model for an album cover. Shel said everything would be paid for; their plane ticket, hotel rooms, food, and clothing. Thinking it would be a great opportunity to meet new people, Daryl agreed to go.
But after they arrived in Vegas, Daryl's senses kicked in. She began to realize she was going into debt to these people and would be expected to do something in return. It wasn't long before another girl tipped her off, telling her that the situation she was about to get herself into wasn't a good one. That's when Daryl realized she was about to be forced into a sex slave ring. Daryl says she and another girl climbed out of a window and escaped.
Since then, Daryl has wanted to help others who have found themselves in the same situation, but weren't as lucky as she was. The problem of sex slavery is overwhelming and heart wrenching -- and Daryl Hannah isn't alone in her quest to do something about it.
What's Being Done?
ICE Agents made many arrests during a massive sweep of Korean sex slave operations up and down the East Coast.
Because they are denied a normal childhood, girls forced into sex slavery lack skills they need to survive in the workforce if they are lucky enough to escape their captivity. All they know is the life they led. It takes special safe houses and programs to teach these children what they need to know to survive, and luckily, these programs do exist.
In 2003, the International Justice Mission combined efforts with Cambodian police to conduct a massive sweep of brothels. They rescued almost 30 girls and arrested 13 suspects.
In 2005, the FBI, Immigration Custom Enforcement Agents, and members of the NYPD teamed up to conduct an investigation that resulted in the breakup of Korean sex slave rings up and down the East Coast, and in California. In all, they made 30 arrests and rescued 70 victims -- a small but important victory in a huge battle.
In 2006, Daryl Hannah changed the lives of several girls who were being held hostage as sex slaves in Cambodia. One of the girls Daryl saved had been trafficked from Vietnam to Malaysia, and then to Cambodia by a woman who promised her a job as a waitress.
There have been many more raids like these over the years, and little by little, people are working to solve the problem of sex slavery abroad and in the U.S. Although the raids may not seem to put a huge dent in the problem, experts say they actually prevent sex slavery in many cases. When a brothel owner sees another pimp or madam receive a jail sentence, they grow wary of continuing their own business.
The battle against sexual slavery is ongoing, and education about the issue increases the odds of winning the fight. Thanks to organizations like the International Justice Mission and individuals like Daryl Hannah, more and more people are getting the message that sex slavery is a massive problem, it ruins lives, and it must be stopped.For Further Information
International Justice Mission
Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking
Village Focus International
The views expressed by the above organizations are not the views of the Producers of "America's Most Wanted" or the Fox Broadcasting Company.
Daryl Hannah dons a disguise and straps a hidden camera and microphones to her body prior to going undercover to film her documentary.
Daryl points to one of her secret cameras, hidden in a cell phone. The camera lens is a tiny hole in the top of the phone, and the microphone is in the antennae.
Daryl, disguised and secretly filming at a sex shop.
A disguised Daryl enters a brothel.
Daryl sits with her editor and reviews her undercover footage for her documentary on sex slavery.
Daryl's documentary includes images like this one. Here, a young girl and an older man have drinks at a karaoke bar that's known as a place where underage girls are sold for sex.
After saving several girls from a brothel in Cambodia, Daryl was able to go back and visit with them check on their progress.
Daryl with one of the girls she helped rescue.
International Justice Mission: Going Undercover To Fight Human Sex Trafficking »