By: Patricia Mulhall
One year ago, TRAC invited Martin O'Brien the director of Ten Ten Theatre, to one of its meetings to discuss the possibility of staging a drama that would be an educational tool for schools, youth and parish groups to convey the issues related to human trafficking - the prevalence of pornography as a virtual step toward sexual exploitation - and communicate the dangers of grooming unsuspecting youngsters into sexual services in a real way. Little did the group think that Martin would write so vividly, clearly and cleverly the 'truth' stories of those caught in the web of sexual services and this drama would then be ably performed by Sarah, the actor. In truth, it exceeded all expectations of the group.
The drama was captivating. The performance was riveting. For 55 minutes the audience was spellbound. And the time didn't seem like that long. Granted, the audience was made up of adults, many of whom are exposed to various aspects of human trafficking and modern-day slavery for over 12 years, having contact with trafficked victims, as well as advocating and lobbying on their behalf. Nonetheless, this was story that was touching, moving some to tears.
TRAC members are all too familiar with the causes and consequences of human trafficking and the devastation that is caused to victims. This is why TRAC campaigns so vigorously for legislation to be enacted in Parliament that stops demand for never-ending supply of victims by criminalising buyers. brothel owners and perpetrators.
The story of 'Grace' is told by a character called Emilia who used to be Grace's best friend. It begins when, at the age of 24, Emilia discovers Grace looking thin and malnourished in a dirty old café. The story of what happened to Grace is then told in non-chronological order.
I recommend 'GRACE' as a brilliant performance that covers many issues related to slavery and sexual exploitation. Issues such as the grooming of a 14-year-old girl by an older man; peer pressure to 'please' and be loved; friendships that can be positive or negative, pornography that is so easy to view, forced prostitution; police response; demand from clients 'buying' sex and demanding their money's worth. On the positive side, the drama also shows ways in which young people can 'watch out' for each other, be confident that they can do something to assist a friend caught in the snare of traffickers and there is hope.
This is a drama for parents, teachers, social workers, politicians, law-enforcers, media persons, journalists, police and above all young people aged 14 and upwards!
It is an ideal 'lesson' for PHSE teachers and students. It is a useful tool for parents to open up discussion on the issues of human trafficking and exploitation with their children.
The belief that human trafficking is 'out there' happening elsewhere, either in 'foreign' countries or to 'foreigners' is a myth that is 'busted' with the performance of 'Grace.'
Credit is due to Martin O'Brien, TenTen Theatre as creator/director of the drama and to Sarah for her excellent performance.
Patricia Mulhall is a member of TRAC - an Inter-congregational coalition of Catholic religious, working to end demand for sex trafficking and exploitation and to promote the 'Nordic Model' of legislation for the UK.