Faculty member explores portrayal of sex trafficking



Students filled chairs, sat on the ground and stood in the doorways to learn about the Hollywood depictions and media portrayals of sex trafficking.

Stepanka Korytova, an adjunct faculty member under the School of Global and International Studies, discussed on Monday the dissimilarities between the Hollywood depictions and media portrayals of sex trafficking and the data and reality of sex trafficking.

The author of “Global Human Trafficking: A Bibliography (2000-2010),” Korytova currently researches the intersection of sex trafficking and domestic violence.

The lecture, titled “‘Taken’ and the (Mis)representation of Sex Trafficking,” took place from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in Woodburn Hall.

Korytova opened the lecture by referencing the Homeland Security website’s definition of human trafficking: “a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial trade.”

The website adds that traffickers use force, fraud or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual 
exploitation.

Korytova then referenced a passage from the book “A Cinema of Loneliness: Penn, Kubrick, Coppola, Scorsese and Altman.”

“American film tells stories in which it supports, reinforces and even sometimes subverts the major cultural, political and social attitudes which surround,” the passage reads. “It is 
make-believe.”

To illustrate this point, Korytova focused on the 2008 film “Taken,” which follows a retired CIA agent as he attempts to save his teenage daughter from an Albanian group of human traffickers.

“Do all traffickers come from Albania? Certainly not,” Korytova said

Though she said most films tend to depict human traffickers as Eastern European, Korytova said human trafficking is not an Eastern European problem, but a global problem.

“Just because you leave the United States doesn’t mean you will get trafficked elsewhere,” Korytova said. “You can get trafficked here.”

She added that though most films tend to depict those who are human trafficked as abductees, abductees actually only represent a small fraction of those who are human trafficked. Rather, most of those who are human trafficked elicit the work.

“So you could say the people know a little bit what may be ahead of them, but maybe they don’t know the magnitude of their work, of their slavery,” Korytova said.

The lecture was part of the Fall 2015 Themester “@Work: The Nature of Labor on a Changing Planet,” which deals with complex issues surrounding labor and work.

Every fall semester, the College of Arts and Sciences faculty picks a theme for a Themester, a collection of courses, speakers, films and events that embody a common theme, according to the Themester website.

Jennifer Bass, director of communications at the Kinsey Institute, said the lecture was a way to tie the topics of human trafficking and sex work into the larger themes of labor and work.

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