Kurt Wallace: This is Kurt Wallace and our guest today on Rare is Jaco Booyens director of a new film 8 Days, and Jaco thanks for being with us today on Rare.
Jaco Booyens: Kurt thank you so much and thanks for the work you guys are doing and being willing to shine a light on this issue and the film we appreciate you.
Kurt Wallace: Well Jaco, your film 8 days deals with human trafficking based on a true story correct?
Jaco Booyens: Yes, actual multiple events. What we did Kurt, for the sake of not isolating a single victim because many of these victims are under witness protection. We took multiple events that are real life events that we have been in touch with these people. And they represent kind of what human trafficking looks like at the moment. So, every scenario in this film is multiple characters that you follow are actual human beings – those are actual occurences.
Kurt Wallace: Well, when writing and preparing to make the film what research or input did you receive from either authorities or victims themselves?
Jaco Booyens: Yes, Philipa Booyens is the writer of the screenplay. Philipa is also my wife. She’s a screenplay writer and she was asked to write a book about a particular victim and then for us through a prayer consideration decided as a film company that we needed to make the film. So, immediately for me as a film director what is important – authenticity is critical.
So if something’s on-screen it’s one of my pet peeves it has to be realistic. So, we very quickly got introduced to Homeland Security. And Homeland Security incredible organization Department of Defense of course. And they’ve got two divisions, one’s called ICE and the other one is SRT Special Response Team. Well both ICE and Special Response Team immediately became involved with the film. They actually trained the actors, they educated me. They worked through the script with us, they looked at the language and the vernacular and the protocol and everything about this world. Subsequently we visited with numerous anti-human trafficking organizations on three different levels. Preventative, how to prevent the crime and what the crime looks like. And of course the rescue operations those who actually go in and rescue these girls and actually walking with them and visiting safe homes and safe houses and then the rehabilitation phase. We’ve spoken and met with multiple victims. I’ve been invited personally to undercover operations. And that was all part of preparation before we we’re going to go shoot the film so that it would be authentic on-screen.
Kurt Wallace: Well this industry, this human trafficking industry – it’s huge. It’s over 9 billion dollars a year?
Jaco Booyens: And 30 billion worldwide. The United States is the largest single contributor as a single nation to the world economy of human trafficking. And we’re not talking about American girls being taken out of the United States or girls being brought into the United States. We’re talking about American kids being trafficked in the United States of America in suburbia, middle class, upper class, lower class. This crime has no respect of race, gender age or class or for that matter ethnicity or religion. It is an epidemic. It’s a faceless crime. People don’t really know what human trafficking is, they’ll say oh I’ve heard of human trafficking and they think it’s something that happens in the Philippians or Guatemala. It is in the affluent neighborhoods, it’s in private schools, it’s in public schools, it’s in Christian schools. It is among us.
Kurt Wallace: Jaco, in terms of the people that are being abducted, they’re obviously young women. But what about boys?
Jaco Booyens: Yeah, shocking statistic in society at the moment boys are on a massive demand incline much more than girls even. The rate of young men, young boys and again we’re talking about in America 12 to 15 year olds and again it’s 40 year olds go through this and 30 year olds, but primarily the main age range is 12 to 15. Boys are on the rise 172% in the last twelve months only. So, this is not an issue that we just got to educate on girls here. We’re talking about boys and if you look at our culture, boys are not free to be men. Our culture they’re not free to be boys. And so that’s why it brings joy to me when i hear a dad is taking Muy Thai or self-defense lessons or throwing pitch and catch or just being involved with his son, you know these are the things guys do.
And I need to be able to defend me and myself, I need to be able to be alert. I need to know my surroundings. When you train young boys how to do this because the predators out there are prowling on boys. And again because they’re almost and easier target than girls becase we expect them to go after the girls. But there’s just a sick twisted demand, and it’s all twisted, but boys in particular right now. I mean it’s ramped. So, yeah boys and girls, it’s not men and women like I said earlier gender does not matter. It’s just evil.
Kurt Wallace: How many victims are actually rescued or recovered in this?
Jaco Booyens: Department of Defense, these are the numbers – only 1% of the crime is reported. So, think about this, every time you see or hear an amber alert. It represents at most 1% of what happened that day. So, very few, and part of the reason, Kurt, is because even th police forces – I mean our film is being used at the moment and we’re very humbled by it, to educate the armed forces and the police force to what this crime actually looks like. Because it’s not like it used to be when you and I grew up where there was a red-light district and it was easy to know ok that part of town sex is for sale. We’re talking about, it’s n the malls today, it’s in the schools. We’ve got kids trafficking kids. And family members trafficking their kids in neighborhoods.
Kurt Wallace: In the U.S.?
Jaco Booyens: In the U.S.!
Kurt Wallace: Kids trafficking kids in the United States?
Jaco Booyens: United States of America. Here’s a shocking statistic for you. Five of the top ten cities in the world for human trafficking, sexual slavery is really what it is – it’s sexual slavery. Our American cities, five of the top ten in the world. The number one city in the world is the city you live in – Atlanta, Georgia.
Kurt Wallace: Atlanta Georgia is the number one city?
Jaco Booyens: In the world. Houston, Texas is constantly in the top three. So is Seattle, Washington. It is a shocking statistic, it’s a silent epidemic. I equate it to the following. It’s like our troops fighting the enemy in Iraq but they don’t know what the enemy looks like, because it could be a twelve-year-old kid or a woman dressed as a nun. You don’t know. It’s a faceless enemy because it’s almost like a mist. We need to talk about it. We need to give it a face. That’s why the film exists. The film is just a tool. The film belongs to the people. It’s not our film. That’s why the proceeds from this film go to local organizations. So, last night we had a premiere Atlanta, Georgia. Out of Darkness was the beneficiary organizations that fights for kids in Atlanta. They received the proceeds from last night’s event. So, we’re asking Americans to fight for their kids. But we have to educate the nation and say this is a crime that exists. It’s a crime that has surpassed illegal drug trade monetarily and it has surpassed illegal arms trade. It’s very fast becoming the number one crime of choice because its low risk. Because these people, these perpetrators are not being pursued. Because many people don’t know one that the crime has a mask and they don’t know what to look for.
Kurt Wallace: I was shocked to find out that every 40 seconds a child goes missing in the United States. And it in this human trafficking what is the typical age range for these sex slaves that are being sold?
Jaco Booyens: Average American sex slave and it’s the same number around the world. Actually, the US average is lower than the world average. The world average is 15 years old – the US average is twelve. For the average American kid that’s pulled into sexual slavery at the age twelve from that moment the second they get involved in taken into this world their life expectancy drops from three to seven years maximum.
Kurt Wallace: Wow, and what happens after they’re abducted?
Jaco Booyens: There’s a couple ways that sex trafficking is taking place in the United States. One of course is abduction and that is ramped literally. And they say well why don’t we hear about it/ Because people aren’t willing to talk about tough issues. That’s why I respect you for what you’re doing. People aren’t willing to take on a heavy subject matter and say let’s talk about this. So, abduction is one definitely happening. Then there is the most ramped one at the moment is where they just indoctrinate these kids and it’s metal manipulation through threats – that the kids still live at home. They’ll go to school, they’ll leave school, they’ll work as they call it for two hours in the afternoon or three hours in the afternoon. Sleep in their own bed at home at night.
Kurt Wallace: What? So, they’re essentially part-time sex slaves that still live at home and they’re there psychologically?
Jaco Booyens: Parents have no idea and its real simple. You take a twelve-year-old girl this is what they do. They’ll do incredible recon, these guys aren’t stupid. I always say criminals they’re not stupid. They’ll do incredible recon. They’ll work, they’ll find something in that kids life that has an emotional connect. So lets say, I don’t care if it’s your younger sister and they’ll come and they’ll get in touch with a human being twelve years old and say this is your mom’s name this is your brother’s name and your sister goes to that kindergarten school act that way or I’ll pick them up and kill them all. And then it only takes two or three experiences of a girl being sexually molested where there’s an emotional, yes, the emotional scaring and damage, Kurt, to these human beings. You know, even when they are rescued, in our film the girl gets rescued, right? But then we show the next morning where the human being that left is not the human being that returned. The rehabilitation that it takes to get a human being to have self-worth, trust, the ability to interact. It’s incredible scarring. I mean it is massive.
Kurt Wallace: Jaco, in the film obviously the girl gets abducted and she, things happen to her. But how do you avoid this? What are some of the things you’ve learned from your experience in what to watch? What to look for? How to keep an eye out in your community for sex trafficking?
Jaco Booyens: This statement’s going to hit hard. You know it’s sobering but it’s necessary. American men need to step up. American men have lost courage. There’s a lot of men that are cowards. And when I say there are men that are cowards I mean it’s men that are not willing to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. They could defend themselves and protect themselves but they’re not willing to fight for their neighbor’s kid. Or the kid that they don’t know down the street. Men have to step up and do the right thing. Because 90% of the people who buy sex are men. They create the demand. So, men have to step up and they need to hold other men accountable. You know their friends. So, the men in our nation need to start doing the right thing and need to start setting a protocol.
Then subsequent to that the moms who literally know more than the men because they’re the ones shuttling kids back and forth to soccer practice and to school. They have to be made aware of what it looks like. And it looks like the one kid that’s on your street that shouldn’t be on your street. Or the one kid that you typically see with a group of kids and then all the sudden they’re with a different group of kids. When you walk in the mall, why is that kid without a parent. Parents stop sending your kids to the mall, stop dropping your kid at the mall. A twelve-year-old, thirteen year old kids should not be alone at the mall with $100 in their pocket. This is where they’re taking these kids. And then parents get involved. I don’t care if your kid, you’re not the kid’s best friend your supposed to be the parent. Ask the questions that they don’t want to answer. Who were you with, who are your friends? Go meet the families because at the moment, there are more kids trafficking kids.
The pimps work through – they always separate themselves, right? So, that’s why it’s so advantageous for someone to be a pimp at this time because they separate themselves at arm’s length. But it’s so hard. In the film for instance, it is a group of kids in a school that gets lured by a pimp – kids paid money to bring a particular girl to a party. Her drink gets spiked because she makes a bad decision to disobey a parent to go to a party. Her drink gets spiked and she wakes up two states over the next morning in within 8 days 50 men sexually molest her. And this happens as you and I are speaking right now. There are twelve-year-olds this second that’s being taken. The youngest case I’ve been introduced to. Actual fact case two and a half months ago. The victim was one year old. If I tell you the amount of three and five-year-olds that are rescued you’ll get sick. If you have to see the things that we see this is our culture. It is tough to swallow. The land of the free and the home of the brave is no longer free and we’re not brave.
Kurt Wallace: This is shocking, absolutely shocking.
Jaco Booyens: And I didn’t know, Kurt, when my wife started writing this book I thought I knew what human trafficking was. And then out of support to my wife the writer any product she writes I’m involved with. I start doing research and I start finding out I don’t know anything. What do you mean American kids in my neighborhood. I live in a neighborhood that is four miles from where two ex-presidents live in Dallas, Texas. Thirteen kids in the last year in that neighborhood, we’re talking about no kid is immune.
Kurt Wallace: So, you’re on tour right now with them film 8 Days. Is this going to hit the theaters in mass or what’s the plan with the film.
Jaco Booyens: Yeah, you know, it’s unconventional to do eight premieres. Typically we do one movie premiere and that’s for press. What we’re doing is these premieres that we’re handling is for public, celebrities, we’re mix them all together. It’s about the cause. So, eight premieres we’re about half way through and then the film goes out to theater. There’s been an incredible demand from the international community. In our Washington DC premiere the United Nations sent a representative and we were asked to address the United Nations about what the current crime looks like. And it’s staggering to me that it hasn’t happened before. And if any accolades go to anybody it’s our team not me. The team that put together, the actors. But no one has gone and actually made a film and I’ve watched hundreds of documentaries. And it was very clear to me that we cannot make a documentary. Because people don’t watch documentaries and they don’t play in theaters. It has to be a real life drama and it was a difficult movie to make. Because I will never make a film that will show nudity that’s just me and my choice as a director. So, I won’t subject my actors to that. But yet, I had to show sex trafficking and I had to show violence and I had to show what this crime looks like. And it’s moving people.
Yes, it will go out to theater, Red box, Netflix, airlines, hotels. But it’s been requested in the 11 countries around the world at the moment. Some of these countries at the moment are also critical target points for human trafficking in their own right. So, we’re really blessed that it has an international appeal. So, we just keep marching forward. It’s an awareness campaign as much as it is preventative. And then of course raising funds. We raise funds and people can definitely help. So, many people can say well I want to help but I don’t know how. You know how do you a general American how do you stop sex trafficking? You join this movement. The film belongs to you. You go to the website of them movie. There’s an opportunity for you to give. The funds you give do not go to us. It goes to organizations that fight this crime. And you can talk about the movie and get the word out and educate and take your friends to the theater and see how we can protect our kids.
Kurt Wallace: Jaco Booyens we really appreciate the work that you’re doing and the film 8 Days, you can go to the website 8Daysfilm.org that’s the number, 8Daysfilm.org and we appreciate you being with us today on Rare.
Jaco Booyens: Kurt thank you for Rare and the work you guys do. We really appreciate you and keep up the good work. You make a difference.