Heil contributes research, knowledge about trafficking in film project

Criminal justice professor Erin Heil said she decided to participate in a film project on sex trafficking because she appreciated the direction the filmmaker was taking with it.

Criminal Justice professor Erin Heil in an interview for a documentary on trafficking. Photo courtesy of Heil.

John Thornton II from Georgia Tech University is directing the film. The tentative name of the film is “Not for Sale.” It will be shown at film festivals throughout the United States. A release date has yet to be set.

“He not only wanted to tell the story of sex trafficking survivors, but also shed light on what drives the sex trafficking trade,” Heil said.

She added that Thornton wanted to bring attention that human trafficking encompasses many forms of trafficking, including various forms of labor trafficking.

“He had read my book, “Sex Slaves and Serfs”, and felt that I would provide valuable information to the film,” Heil said. “I was honored to be asked to be a part of this project.”

According to Heil, networking enables projects like this documentary to be successful.

“The filmmaker and his crew travelled from Georgia Tech to make sure my research was part of the film. Had he kept this local, the story could have been biased,” Heil said. “I think it is important with any type of project to cover all viewpoints, and I think this filmmaker has put together a well-rounded piece to discuss the many layers of human trafficking.”

According to Heil, she hopes the film can be used as a resource in the anti-trafficking movement.

“It is important that we discuss human trafficking and learn from other experiences,” Heil said. “Awareness will only improve the potential for victim identification and protection, as well as offender punishment.”

Heil said she thinks the overall message to be conveyed is that domestic human trafficking is not something that only affects large cities or border towns.

“Rather, it happens in our communities; in our own backyards. Hopefully this documentary brings awareness to the multitude of victim types, as well as the factors that drive human trafficking, including, but not limited to, weak social institutions, poverty, and cultural beliefs regarding sex and gender.

Doing the project took a lot of time and hard work according to Heil.

“I am very excited about this project,” Heil said. “I am only a small part of a much bigger project that John Thornton is developing, so I cannot say what will happen in the next few months.”

She added that she and Thornton have maintained contact, and as more information is needed for the film, she hopes that he will continue to reach out and gain the necessary insight.

If trafficking is suspected, it is always recommended that victims or witnesses contact the National Trafficking Hotline: 1-888-3737-888

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