It’s not Business, It’s personal

February 18, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Patricia and I watched a movie recently, starring Liam Neeson titled Taken, a couple of times, actually. In this film, his daughter, Kim, now living with her mother, Lenora, and wealthy step-father, Stuart, has been invited by some friends to go to Paris. She is 17 and her friend, Amanda, with whom she is travelling is 19 years old. 

Neeson, as Bryan Mills, is a former Green Beret and CIA officer with a talent for defending himself in the most efficient way, a perfect action thriller star. Although he has retired from his profession to re-established his relationship with his daughter, his “particular skills” as he calls them soon come into play. At first, Bryan, knowing the world is a dangerous place, is reluctant to allow Kim to travel to Paris but Lenora presses him. Agreeing at last, he presents Kim with an international cell phone and demands as a condition to her going that she stays in touch with him. 

On arrival to the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Kim and Amanda are approached by a handsome young man who suggests they share a taxi into the city. He invites them to go to a party later and Amanda accepts, giving him their address to pick them up later, much to Kim’s objections. 

They are staying in an apartment building owned by the wealthy family. Finally, Bryan contacts Kim, concerned that she has not called him. While they are talking, she witnesses through the windows Amanda being kidnapped. 

Bryan tells her to hide under the bed, warns her that she will be taken and instructs her to shout out anything she can, leaving the phone on the floor under the bed. Taken she is and Bryan flies to Paris in a private jet Stuart has arranged. From there begins the well written and wonderfully performed adventure Bryan travels, to find and save his daughter. 

So, beside a recommendation to watch Taken, there is a much more important point to my telling you about it. Taken is about human trafficking and what is terrible and terrifying is the cattle approach traffickers have toward their fellow human beings. While the action is Bond thrilling and Bryan Mills is a marvel of escape artist and easy killing, could be almost be a parody of the truth – who knows – what is extremely close to the bone is the story itself, the philosophy, the deep villainy of the base line: that kidnapping, drug inducing, used as sex objects – all this does happen in the world. 

The less well known but just as soul-destroying version of all this happens here too. Young girls are targeted; they are seduced and trapped; they are traded for sex for huge money for their pimps, their humanity reduced or stripped. They are daughters, sisters, people. 

There are manuals online on how to be a pimp. There are parties, galas you might even say, pimp celebrations of the success of the business. Young men, as young as high school, learn how it is done, the technique of entrapment, the monetary rewards, the callousness and cruelty. They are taught and led by older men, professionals in the filthy world of human trafficking. There is too much to gain for humanity to be part of the business. That is what they call it; that’s what they call all kinds of villainy; they call it business and they excuse the wreckage, the pain, the immorality of what they are doing. 

The onus of cure is on the shoulders of the rest of us, of whom very few are Liam Neeson ¬– ready to slash and plunder the lairs of the wicked and nor should we, probably. 

However, our job is to be aware that this happens and it happens here in Dufferin, in Peel. Unbelievable for sure, with our tidy houses, SUVs in the driveways, pretty gardens waiting to blossom under the snow. It is this very respectability, this appearance of things being okay that can stop us from understanding the perils in our malls and school hallways. 

The socially marginalized are the first to catch the attention of predators, who offer an unimaginable friendship with horrors under the surface. Horrors that could go undetected because no one wants to believe the incredible. 

Research shows that police statistics for human trafficking are much lower than those of the agencies that deal with victims; that as many as 95 per cent of sex trafficked people are women; that half of the traffickers are young men, 25 years old or younger. 

Ontario accounts for two-thirds of the national reported human trafficking numbers, with a population of 39 per cent of the country. These are occurring primarily in the cities, and mainly in Toronto. 

In Taken, when Bryan Mills has cornered one of the villains, who sees his death in the hero’s intent: “It’s only business – it’s not personal!” cries the man. 

“It was my daughter – it is personal,” said Mills. 

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