In 1995, one of the most shocking cases of modern day slavery unfolded in Los Angeles’ backyard. 72 garment workers were discovered in an El Monte compound living in captivity and under squalid conditions, producing clothing for such major labels as Anchor Blue, Clio, and B.U.M.  A majority of these garment workers were of Thai descent.

According to statistics from the Department of Justice, more than half of confirmed labor trafficking victims in 2007-2008 were of Asian descent. More than half of all trafficking victims are U.S. citizens.

Modern day slavery and trafficking fuels an underground economy that goes unnoticed to many. Victims generally labor in the garment, toy manufacturing, agricultural, and sex industries as well as serve in households cleaning homes or providing childcare to the families of their slaveholders. Every year, at least 17,000 people are trafficked in the U.S., with the majority of victims consisting of women and children. Los Angeles serves as one of three main points of entry.
As part of an effort to utilize the arts to raise awareness about this seldom discussed issue in the Asian Pacific Islander American community, East West Players (EWP) and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST) are presenting a special event this Thursday evening that is free and open to the public:
Excerpts from: THE GIRLS FROM AFAR by Libby Emmons, a staged reading directed by Jeff Liu Featuring: Dante Basco (Hook, Take the Lead) Fran de Leon (Dogeaters at the Kirk Douglas Theatre) James Kyson Lee (NBC’s Heroes) Camille Mana (UPN’s One on One) Tamlyn Tomita (The Karate Kid II, The Joy Luck Club)
Thursday, January 21, 2010 7:30 PM – show Panel Discussion & Reception to follow Tateuchi Democracy Forum in the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (Across the parking lot at East West Players next to the Japanese American National Museum) 111 N. Central Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90012 RSVP to (213) 625-7000 or on Facebook
This is just one of several events for CAST’s monthlong “From Freedom to Slavery” campaign. We hope you can join us to inform the public about the existence of modern-day slavery and become motivated to take action.