In her documentary, “Playground”, U.S. filmmaker Libby Spears offers a disturbing look inside one of the world’s most profitable, and most degrading industries – sex trafficking. After her initial research in Cambodia and the Philippines, Libby altered her primary country of focus once she learned one of the world’s biggest offenders of commercial sexual exploitation is the United States. An alarming number of American children – more than 300,000 – have been forced into the sex industry.
The first time Libby’s work appeared on AMW, she highlighted the Portland, Ore., vice unit and their role in combating child prostitution. Now, Libby and AMW revisit this disheartening topic to delve deeper into one specific case – the disappearance of Kelsey Collins – a prostitute who testified against her former pimp and went missing.
Kelsey fell into the industry by falling for a guy who started out as her boyfriend but had all along planned on funneling her into the world of prostitution.
"It's not so much abduction as it is an act of seduction," Libby says. "The pimps will act like they're in love, like a boyfriend. They'll buy the kids gifts and clothes and tell them that they love them and will keep them safe, kind of create this gap between the kid and their family. Once the girl is falling for it, they say, ‘Hey, I need you to do this one thing.'"
Kelsey Collins began working with law enforcement on legal proceedings against her pimp when she was just 16. She vanished when she was 17.
"We desperately need a place to keep these girls safe so they can testify," Libby says. "No pimps are going to be arrested unless the girls can testify.” Libby’s organization, Playground Project, aims to do just that – offer a safe haven for brave young girls who want to put an end to the physical and mental torture of sexual exploitation.
Project Playground is in the process of launching the campaign “13” to screen Libby’s film in 13 cities over a 24-month period. The film premieres will raise awareness and funds for local non-profits, as well as provide training for law enforcement, social workers and health care providers on the front lines of combating this devastating industry.
Tune in on Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011, on FOX to watch the conclusion of Libby’s in-depth look at child prostitution in Portland, Ore., and see if you have a crucial tip to help find Kelsey Collins.