ZOE Invited by Father-Con As Panelist for Film Screening about Child Trafficking

Father-Con is a nonprofit that works to prevent human trafficking and empower men in the fight against trafficking, specifically fathers to strengthen their roles in girls’ lives. The organization also hosts film screenings to educate the public about trafficking. ZOE was invited as a panelist after the screening of MAYA, a new film that tackles the difficult topics of child sex trafficking, online predators, and domestic abuse. The movie follows 15-year-old Maya who seeks to escape her alcoholic mother’s abusive boyfriend, only to fall into a manipulative sex trafficking scheme after meeting a man online.

The film provides an eye-opening look at how techniques used by social media predators can exploit vulnerable teens. 

According to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there was a nearly 99% increase in online enticement reports in just the first 9 months of 2020 compared to 2019.

MAYA educates viewers on the realities that trafficking happens domestically across all 50 states, not just overseas. Thirty percent of global trafficking victims are children. This film depicts how teens from homes with domestic violence are particularly vulnerable to recruitment by traffickers.

Beyond child sex trafficking, MAYA also portrays the cycles of substance abuse, domestic violence, and how trauma can get passed from one generation to the next. In the film, Maya’s mother, Camilla, struggles with alcoholism and an abusive partner, before finding her own path to recovery.

The film drives home that community awareness is needed to identify at-risk youth and provide support systems to prevent them from falling victim to abusers and traffickers. 

 

Sandy speaking to a group on a panel at Father Con.

 

During the panel after the screening, Sandy Esparza, ZOE’s Human Trafficking Prevention Program Manager and Lived Experience Expert provided the audience insights on the realities of human trafficking and what the youth are experiencing today. 

ZOE’s Media Director, Christian Toma, added, “It was so helpful to hear from Sandy and other experts share their stories of what they’re seeing in the field and how the movie touches on many of their points. It was also so encouraging to see new people learn about ZOE and get excited for the work to be done!” 

The filmmakers hope Maya’s Story will serve as an educational warning while also providing a hopeful message about resilience and recovery. By shining a light on these tough realities, the goal is to inspire more people to take action to protect vulnerable youth in their own communities.

Maya movie film poster.

MAYA is available to stream on the following platforms:

 

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