For the second year, Idyllwild’s Soroptimists’ Celebration of Women and Arts event focuses on human trafficking, one of the key missions of the international organization. The event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 18, takes place at the Rainbow Inn.
This year, 2005 Idyllwild Arts theatre graduate Maya Lea Osterman performs her one-woman show “For Sale,” a collection of monologues taken from interviews she has conducted with a wide range of people involved in either combatting or perpetuating human trafficking.
Osterman, who holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre from the University of Colorado, is in the final stages of completing a year-long road trip across the United States to interview people involved in combatting human trafficking — local police, FBI agents, mayors, lawyers and social workers. Osterman will use those interviews to expand “For Sale,” which she will continue to embellish with poetry, dance and visual aids.
“I’ve gotten to interview many survivors and see the transition from victim to survivor,” Osterman said. “Human trafficking really is in everyone’s backyard. This is happening in the U.S., not just in Third World countries. The majority of American children that are being trafficked are from 12 to 14.”
She went on to detail a shocking revelation from her interviews — some American parents are allowing their own children to be sexually exploited to pay for family expenses. “This is not a Third World country where someone sells their child,” Osterman said. “It’s done here as well. Parents think they have this precious commodity that belongs to them [the child] that they can use to finance a new refrigerator or some other household expense. The sexual exploitation is most prevalent in girls but also in young boys.”
Local women artists have created art that will be auctioned at the event, which also features hors d’oeuvres and a no-host bar. All proceeds from the art auction and the $20 admission price will benefit the Soroptimists’ campaign to stop human trafficking. A $32 billion a year international industry, modern day trafficking is a form of slavery that transports people across jurisdictional boundaries for the purposes of work of some form — men into hard labor jobs, children into labor positions in textile, agriculture and fishing industries, and women and girls into the commercial sex industry, prostitution or some other form of sexual exploitation.
Soroptimists International believes that by spreading awareness about the pervasiveness of human trafficking, this kind of slavery and indentured servitude will end. That is why the Idyllwild chapter is holding the event according to coordinators Trine Bietz and Mary Morse, who will facilitate a “talk back” with the audience. This will give attendees tangible tools with which to raise awareness about possible victims of trafficking. The United Nations estimates that, at any one time, over 2.5 million people around the world are ensnared in human trafficking enterprises.
Tickets for the event are $20 and available at Prairie Dove and Muir’s Mountain Realty.