Last week, I posted on the who, what, where and when of human trafficking. Today, I will be posting on the why. Why should romance writers care? Why should they consider including it in their novels? We are all tuned into that radio station, WIFM, or “What’s In It For Me?” with good reason. We want to sell books and make money. So, let’s see how you can benefit from this topic as a writer and be a “do-gooder” at the same time.
(By way of reminder, I’m still celebrating KISS OF THE SILVER WOLF’s first birthday by selecting one lucky commenter on my blog each week up to October 31, 2011 to win an e-copy of my werewolves meets X-files novella. So, don’t delay, start commenting!)
WIFM: Characters Wanted
Looking for some interesting characters? Try some of these:
Victims: children, women, men, families who through no fault of their own become victims of human trafficking.
Perpetrators/Villains: Family members–yes, you read that right. Families who do not value girls can sell them to traffickers to get the other family members through a famine, drought, etc. Fathers, mothers, uncles, aunts are all in the business. In the documentary, Born Into Brothels, one of the young women is told repeatedly by her “Auntie” that she’ll be “working the line” soon, i.e., working as a prostitute. Another little girl worries that she’ll be sold. Unlike drug and gun trafficking where men are in charge, human trafficking is an equal opportunity employer and women can rise through the ranks. Madams trafficking girls into brothels were often victims of trafficking. Teenaged girls who might not trust a male family member, are more likely to go with a female family member–and then find themselves enslaved. Throw in organized and disorganized crime, corrupt politicians, police, and border guards and you will find no lack of villains.
Need a Hero and Heroine? Look at the list of agencies at the end of this blog for a sampling of the organizations involved in combating human trafficking. In addition to governmental agents (FBI, ICE, DHHS); good police, non-corrupt politicians, and border guards, there are also Non-Governmental Agencies (NGOs). Some are religious organizations, all are not-for-profits.
Need Secondary Characters? In DESIRE AND DECEPTION, my heroine (Sarah) found out about human trafficking by attending a conference sponsored by a Catholic university. A nun became Sarah’s mentor in the search for the nefarious trafficker.
WIFM: Plots Wanted
How about adapting some old plots to a not-so-new issue? Yes, we know there are a lot of variations on these themes, but look at the tropes and in the parentheses are ideas for tailoring them to a human trafficking story.
1. Secret Baby (Adoption Trafficking)
2. Cinderella (rags to riches) (Madams; Organs)
3. Opposites Attract (FBI agent, Crime boss)
4. Bodyguard (Protecting rich woman, nearly dies)
5. Second chance/First love rekindled (Oryx & Crake; children/teens torn apart)
6. Reunion (Woman/child reunited w/family)
7. Stranded (Lost and Trafficked)
8. Love Triangle (Pimp/Prostitute/John)
9. Marriage of Convenience (Mail-order Brides)
10. Beauty and the Beast (Captor/captive or C/c)
11. Sleeping Beauty/Ugly duckling (Drugged Woman/Awakened by Hero)
12. Amnesia (Head Injury & Trafficked)
13. Fish out of water (Abducted on vacation)
14. Blackmail/Revenge (Unfaithful lover)
15. Forbidden love (“Good”C/c)
16. Mentor/protégé (Boss/Employee)
17. Princess/Pauper; King/Beggar maid (Beggar children)
18. Bad boy/good girl; Bad girl/good boy (C/c)
19. Best Friends (One seeks trafficked friend)
20. The Road to Adventure (Boy soldiers/Captive “brides”)
(Adapted with permission from Jana Richards 20 Classic Romance Plots)
What Can You Do As Citizens?
Here are some simple ways to be involved:
- Become informed and raise awareness through writing, presentations and workshops;
- Buy only Fair Trade goods (e.g., flowers, chocolate, clothing, rugs, etc.)
- Demand that laws against human trafficking be created and enforced (did you know 9 states in the US have weak or NO anti-trafficking laws? (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Montana, South Carolina and South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, Hawaii and Ohio. (http://bit.ly/ntzjCL)
- Advocate for reduced demand through:
- Creation of John’s schools (like a DUI school for first offenders) teach men that prostitution is not a victimless crime if you are forced into it against your will.
- Call for corporate policies that mandate no purchasing of goods created by slaves.
- Zero tolerance in tourism, real estate, advertising and related industries who benefit from human trafficking. In Paris, France, authorities boarded up an expensive condominium the owner had rented to sex traffickers. His real estate investment was gone.
What Can You Do As A Romance Writer?
Romance writers have long tackled difficult women’s issues, such as domestic violence and addiction. Romance writers can tell a fictional story that is less threatening to readers to expose them to the world of human trafficking. Romance writers can show readers what individuals can do. Romance writers can make a difference.
References and Resources
Films & Documentaries
- Frozen River
- Human Trafficking
- Slum Dog Millionaire
- Sin Nombre (Without a Name)
- Born into Brothels
- Lilya 4-Ever
- Selling of Innocents
- National Geographic BORDER WARS (Cable)
A Small Sampling of Nonfiction Books
- Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy by Kevin Bales
- Human Trafficking: A Global Perspective by Louise Shelley
- The Slave Next Door: Human Trafficking and Slavery in America Today by Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter
- Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade–and How We Can Fight It by David Batstone
- Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery by Siddarth Kara
- The Whistleblower: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors, and One Woman’s Fight for Justice by Kathryn Bolkovac
A Small Sampling of Fiction Books
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
- The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Wiser Than Serpents (Mission: Russia #3) by Susan May Warren
- Blood Ransom (Mission Hope Series) by Lisa Harris
- Stolen Woman (Stolen Series) by Kimberly Rae
- CIA World Fact Book
- US State Department Trafficking Report 2011
- Health and Human Services
- UNICEF Child Trafficking Handbook
- World Health Organization: Organ Trafficking
- Human Trafficking.Org
- UNESCO and Human Trafficking
- US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- FBI Human Trafficking
- FBI Innocence Lost Project
- Bureau of Justice Statistics
- DHS-OSE Daily Human Trafficking and Smuggling Report
- Images of Human Trafficking
PS: Stop by and enter to win more spooktacular prizes from October 26-31 at http://theromancestudio.com/party.