Would you buy a person?

Matt Osborne ’90 sits at a table in a restaurant in Mexico with Mario. They’re talking business. Negotiating prices, numbers and logistics — just a typical meeting with a client for Mario.

But Mario isn’t selling a product or a service. He’s selling people.

What Mario doesn’t know is that Osborne is an undercover agent for Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), which saves women and children who have endured years of sex trafficking.

Back at a vacation home in Acapulco, Mario snaps his fingers and parades the girls out in a row. Their outfits barely cover their bodies. Some wear dark sunglasses to hide the mix of fear and the haze of the drugs they’ve had pumped into them.

Some are 19 and have been in the business for years. But Osborne has seen girls as young as 12.

Despite the disgusting scene in front of him, Osborne has to maintain his cover as an American “sex tourist” — he has to pretend like he’s interested in the “merchandise” for his “boss.”

“I simultaneously wanted to throw up, I wanted to punch the guy,” Osborne said. “But I had to stay in character and say, ‘Oh yeah, the big boss man’s gonna like that.’”

Little does Mario know, a team of Mexican police are hidden everywhere throughout the house, ready to make the arrests the instant Osborne gives them a signal.

“Never in a million years do these guys think we’re coming after them. Because no one has,” Osborne said.

Finally, these girls are going to be saved. But for some of them, human trafficking has become too much a part of their life. For some of them, it’s too late.

 

For the vast majority of girls in the sex trade, it is not a choice to sell her body. Behind most victims is a deep history of abuse and abandonment.

The average age a girl enters the sex trade is just 13 years old. It’s not any child’s choice to be a sex slave.

In fact, according to O.U.R., two million children worldwide live as sex slaves. Texas ranks 2nd in the country for the most human trafficking. In Dallas alone, about 400 trafficked teens are on the streets every night.

But human trafficking does not discriminate, crossing boundaries of class, gender and age and generating an estimated $150 billion in yearly profits.

So why don’t we talk about human trafficking?

Perhaps the lack of conversations is due to the misconceptions, or the simple lack of knowledge of what actually happens to the victims.

Perhaps it’s the perception that all sex workers sell themselves by choice. But the reality is that the controlling arm of a trafficker has forced many women into the sex trade.

Sergeant Alfred Nuñez supervises the vice unit of the Dallas Police Department and works to pursue human traffickers.

“What we try to do is to try and find out if [sex workers] are doing this on their own, or who’s behind them,” Nuñez said. “A lot of times they make an outcry for us, and will tell us that there’s somebody behind them that’s putting them up to this, and at that time we consider them victims, and we treat them as such, and we start trying to obtain additional information so that we can make a case on a trafficker.”

George Lynch, CEO of Traffick911, an organization that works to rescue and rehabilitate minors who are victims of sex trafficking, clarifies that children are not simply swept off the streets by the perpetrators.

Instead, underprivileged children with often difficult home lives are identified by traffickers and coaxed in over time with lavish gifts and promises of love and a better life, only to find something much more terrifying.

“When you’re really dependent on [the trafficker] for your feeding, your care — he tells you he loves you — then he starts to flip on you and say, ‘You know what, if you love me, you’ll go do this. It’s just one time,’” Lynch said. “And then it’s, ‘Do it again tonight.’ And then before you know it, they are then required to deliver a thousand dollars in revenue every night — ten, 20 men or women come in and say, ‘This is what I want you to do.’ They show them pornography on their telephone and they say, ‘This is the act I want done and I want it done like this.’”

Between the overt sexualization of women in the media, the ready access to pornography and “adults only” outlets on sites such as Craig’s List, there is far more access to and tolerance of the sex trade.

At the New Friends New Life educational forum at the George Bush Library Feb. 22, FBI Special Agent Deborah Michaels, who oversees the Child Exploitation Task Force in North Texas, emphasized the difficulty investigators face when pursuing online predators and traffickers, especially when their targets are children.

“The internet gives predators a larger pool of clients,” Michaels said. “And a lot of times victims don’t even know they’re victims.”

Technology and social media also enable traffickers to market their victims and maximize their profits.

“For the most part, you don’t see minors walking the streets selling themselves,” Lynch said. “It is arranged online, by text message, advertising and marketing of this person as if they were a product. And the deal is made, and that’s how they get their jobs lined up for them. Frankly, a cell-phone-enabled world is how most of the transactions happen.”

Another misconception is that all of these victims are shipped overseas to places like Cambodia or Thailand — which some are — but in reality, many stay right here in Dallas, trapped in hotel rooms or sold at parties.

And these children aren’t always sold by a predator — sometimes it’s a friend or family member putting the price tag on them.

“High school students are selling other high school students,” Lynch said, “and moms are selling their high school students or junior high kids to get meth or cocaine or whatever their need is, and so [trafficking] does not mean that they are going out of state or out of the country.”

 

Many people think trafficking only happens in places they’d never visit in their lifetime, but in reality, it’s all around us.

It’s even at places like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, many big events around the country, where people will come to have a wild weekend and purchase sex.

“Now, where do you go?” Osborne asks. “Do you go to adults? Do you go to kids? Do you go to those who are choosing to work or do you go to those who are trafficking victims? That we don’t know, but we always see at these Super Bowls and other big events that they have these big busts and trafficking stings.”

Dallas Executive Assistant City Attorney Melissa Miles, who has called for new attitudes against sex trafficking, spoke about the widespread nature of this issue at the educational forum Feb. 22 as well.

“It affects people all over the city, in North Dallas as much as anywhere else,” Miles said. “The issue cuts across all demographics.”

Sex trafficking can be expensive, so the demand side of the industry sometimes consists of wealthy businessmen.

“They’ve done everything — they have no more adventures left because they’re at the top of their business, they’ve got their families, they’ve got their networks,” Osborne said. “And it’s what is their next risk? A lot of it is traveling overseas to have these crazy weekends, purchase sex. And for those who have gotten hooked on pornography, they get to a point where it’s not a rush anymore unless it’s something truly illegal, truly out there. And that’s where we see a lot of kids being exploited.”

Surviving life as a slave doesn’t necessarily end the pain the victim endured.

It’s often a lifelong burden that carries poverty, a criminal history and mental health disorders.

And all of that can be retriggered at any moment.

“[You] can’t just get a Band-Aid on it and say, ‘there you go, you’re all fixed up,’” Lynch said, “because if a woman or a young girl is trafficked at 14, let’s say she’s successful and she becomes a mom and her daughter reaches the age of 14; she has all these flashbacks to the horrors that she endured, and it retriggers that trauma in her until she becomes almost paralyzed with concern for her own child.”

Before the long road to recovery can begin, however, the victims first have to escape their life of slavery.

Through O.U.R., Osborne has been able to fight for a cause he believes in: rescuing victims of human trafficking.

“What we are trying to do is first and foremost to rescue victims — to pull them out of the hell that they’re living in,” Osborne said. “We realize that the Operation Underground Railroad is not the long term solution to this problem of human trafficking because you can’t arrest your way out of this problem or rescue your way out of this problem. You need to have a societal change.”

Even after the victim gets rescued and is able to live freely, sometimes life after sex trafficking isn’t worth living. They’re often too far gone.

Osborne has seen it happen. Even after the police carry Mario and the other traffickers away in cuffs and offer protection to the girls, the problem is not automatically resolved.

One of Mario’s slaves, 16-year-old Alicia, had only been in the sex trade for a few months and was overjoyed at the thought of being free. But Linda, the 19-year-old, tells Osborne she doesn’t think she can escape safely. Criminals are threatening her and her family, and she doesn’t think she can live any other way.

I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve been told that all I’m good for is to service these guys.

As hard as it was for Linda to walk into a place where she thought she would be sold, her pimps and traffickers had distorted her world so much that she couldn’t walk out a free woman.

Her life belonged to Mario, and even after he was out of the picture, she was still not out of captivity.

I’m going to go back into it.

Police Story Comparison

I've marked the specific locations in the story where I guided the writer.

Unedited version


Officer Kevin King vividly remembers his second day of his 27-year career with the Dallas Police Department. After all, being shot at is normally a pretty unforgettable experience.

“We were looking for a runaway, and we pulled into an alley on Live Oak,” King said. “We drove right into the middle of a dope deal, and this guy leaned over the balcony with a Tec-9 and sprayed it right at us.”

Policemen thrust themselves into harm’s way all the time. People might expect them to be frightened by killers or mobsters, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The real threat to policemen nationwide is the media.

“We’re not afraid of the bad guys,” said officer Ken Budjenska, a 26-year veteran of DPD. “The three of us [Budjenska and and fellow officers on campus] aren’t afraid of bad guys. We know this is a messy job. We’re just afraid to get fired.”

Michael Brown. Freddie Gray. Laquan McDonald. As videos arose, people took sides, and civil disorder resulted. These incidents put tremendous pressure on police officers nationwide regardless of their records.

In this new era of policing, technology and media can quickly cause a veteran policeman with no prior infractions to wrongfully lose his job.

“Now, they [police departments] are starting to issue body cameras,” said officer Gus Rodriguez. “That's the big issue now, to see the point of view that we’re seeing. It plays the biggest part in our job because we always have to assume that someone is watching us, and if it’s not the media, it may be a security camera from a store down the street. And the media’s going to get a hold of it.”

These videos often highlight just one side of the story, turning people against the cop. King said the problem with cameras is they show “no emotion, no feeling.” And Budjenska believes “They don't capture the past, nor the future.”

King used the Rodney King incident as an example of how the media can affect police interactions. King says that in the video, it showed Rodney King being struck by a night stick 33 times. However, when the video was zoomed in and analyzed, it showed that only a few of the blows actually made solid contact. Most of the blows were glancing blows that really didn't hurt Rodney King.

However, most of the public didn't realize this and thus believed the cop exerted too much force.

“First impressions are the most important in any examination,” King said. “They [the public] already had their minds made up, and that’s how it is today.”

In recent news, a video showing a police officer throwing a girl from her desk went viral and caused great outrage. The news portrayed the officer as being wrong; moreover, it isn’t known what lead up to the escalation.

“I can't judge wether he [the cop] was justified because I don’t know what was going on,” Budjenska said. “But here’s what I can tell you: three days later, 150 students marched in support of that officer. There was never a march against him. None of the students or faculty were screaming for his arrest. His boss saw the video and fired him.”

As evident from the students’ support, the officer may have been justified. However, the media portrayed him as being cruel and unjust, even though it is unclear what exactly caused the situation.

King believes the media needs to know more background knowledge before launching into a story.

“I think the media, if they are truly objective and trying to report the facts and not place their opinions or emotions in it, needs to focus on making sure they have a story before they jump onto press with it,” King said.

Hopefully, a mutual understanding will allow the two groups to continue their line of work with less conflict.

“I think it’s a give and take thing,” King said. “I think we as law enforcement need to keep on educating the media and help them understand what we are going through, but I think the media also needs to mind it enough to get all the facts before they launch a story.”

Final Version


Officer Kevin King vividly remembers his second day of his 27-year career with the Dallas Police Department (DPD).

“We were looking for a runaway, and we pulled into an alley on Live Oak,” King said. “We drove right into the middle of a dope deal, and this guy leaned over the balcony with a Tec-9 and sprayed it right at us.”

Now King and several other officers serve on campus and protect the school community. Policemen thrust themselves into harm’s way all the time. People might expect them to be frightened by killers or mobsters, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

“We’re not afraid of the bad guys,” said officer Ken Budjenska, a 26-year veteran of DPD who also serves on campus. “The three of us [Budjenska and fellow officers on campus] aren’t afraid of bad guys. We know this is a messy job. We’re just afraid to get fired.”

From Michael Brown, an 18-year-old fatally shot in Ferguson, Missouri to Freddie Gray, a Baltimore resident arrested by police who subsequently died in transit, incidents have incited outrage. As videos arose, people took sides, and civil disorder resulted. These incidents put tremendous pressure on police officers nationwide regardless of their records.

In this new era of policing, technology and media can quickly cause a veteran policeman with no prior infractions to lose his job.

“Now, [police departments] are starting to issue body cameras,” said officer Gus Rodriguez. “That’s the big issue now, to see the point of view that we’re seeing. It plays the biggest part in our job because we always have to assume that someone is watching us, and if it’s not the media, it may be a security camera from a store down the street. And the media’s going to get a hold of it.”

Video evidence of a shooting or incident with the police can bring clarity or reveal injustices, but these videos are just part of the whole story.

King said the problem with cameras is they show “no emotion, no feeling.” And Budjenska believes “they don’t capture the past, nor the future.”

Officer King used the Rodney King incident as an example of how the media can affect police interactions. The incident occurred in 1991 when Rodney King was beaten by Los Angeles police 33 times, and another man videotaped the whole incident. Officer King says that there are some doubts about what exactly happened in the video.

“First impressions are the most important in any examination,” Officer King said. “[The public] already had their minds made up, and that’s how it is today.”

In recent news, a video showing a police officer throwing a girl from her desk went viral and caused great outrage. The news highlighted the officer being in the wrong, although it wasn’t known what lead up to the escalation.

“I can’t judge whether [the cop] was justified because I don’t know what was going on,” Budjenska said. “But here’s what I can tell you: three days later, 150 students marched in support of that officer. There was never a march against him. None of the students or faculty were screaming for his arrest. His boss saw the video and fired him.”

The officer may have been justified, but the media portrayed him as using excessive force, regardless of the cause. Officer King believes the media needs to know more background knowledge before launching into a story.

“I think the media, if they are truly objective and trying to report the facts and not place their opinions or emotions in it, needs to focus on making sure they have a story before they jump onto press with it,” Officer King said.

A mutual understanding, King suggests, will allow both policemen and the media to continue their line of work with less conflict and a better relationship.

“I think it’s a give and take thing,” Officer King said. “I think we as law enforcement need to keep on educating the media and help them understand what we are going through, but I think the media also needs to mind it enough to get all the facts before they launch a story.”

How will we learn?

Every year, millions of students take online classes.

And every year, that number grows.

As of last year, the number had reached 30 percent of all high school students, up from ten percent just five years before.

But even as online enrollment reached an all-time high across the nation last year, the numbers at 10600 Preston Road were next to nothing.

As the administration prepares to discontinue the course offerings from Global Online Academy (GOA) next year, they are faced with a glaring fact: only five students out of almost 400 enrolled in upper school have taken a GOA course in the past two years.

Now, while online high schools and course offerings take off across the country, there is one burning question to ask.

What went wrong with GOA?

It is a question followed by many others.

In the digital age of inevitable online interaction, what is the best way to learn?

Can the value of face-to-face interactions be replicated through a screen?

Does online education signal the end of brick and mortar schools, or can they coexist?           

*          *          *

Although the opportunity to offer online classes through GOA seemed promising, hardly any students enrolled in the classes — less than two percent.

According to Dean of the Campus and Provost Scott Gonzalez, much of this has to do with the student body’s reluctance to stray away from AP courses.

“Students here often want to go for what I would call a ‘known course,’” Gonzalez said, “or something that will bolster their résumé to get them into a specific college or university. And more often than not, that particular course has “AP” in front of it.”

Likewise, Director of Academic Information Systems Paul Mlakar believes students were not informed or incentivized enough to truly consider online courses as an option in comparison to the typical AP course load. The school didn’t sell it. And the students didn’t buy it.

“We have to look at it as if this is just a different way of learning,” he said. “This is a different opportunity, but it's not any less valuable than what we're doing at St. Mark's. It has to be looked at as equal, not subordinate; I think we have to give credit to it. We have to say, ‘If you're going to do a course on this, it has to replace something else,’ and maybe more than just an elective course.”

The skills required for learning online are very different from learning in a classroom. In a school community that “prides itself on procrastination,” as Mlakar puts it, he believes online classes are often unsuitable for students, especially those who have trouble remaining constantly organized and up-to-date with their work.

“If you're in my class, I'm prodding you,” Mlakar said. “You better do your homework, or if you're behind you better get caught up, or if you have a task coming up you better get started. You may not have that prodding from a GOA teacher. Deadline hits, and if you've missed the deadline, you may not have the flexibility you do with a face to face teacher.”

The personal responsibility involved with an online class, however, can also translate into a growth in self-reliance and individual pursuits, which GOA Executive Director Michael Nachbar emphasizes.

“GOA classes emphasize interaction, perspective sharing and taking and a personal approach to teaching and learning,” Nachbar said. “Each of our classes is taught by an educator from one of our member schools who is nominated as a teacher leader from her/his respective school. There are a lot of programs today that emphasize personalized learning, which in many cases means students learning on their own.”

*          *          * 

For others, the benefits of an online class system are more apparent, as is the case for Lucas Porter. After leaving St. Mark’s after the 2012-2013 school year — his freshman year — to attend Stanford Online High School (SOHS), Porter opened up his possibilities as an international equestrian show jumper.

“I started taking classes from Stanford Online High School,” Porter said, “because I was starting to ride competitively a lot more and travel a lot more, so going to St. Mark’s was getting harder and harder because I was missing more and more school. So in order to still get a good education, my parents looked into homeschooling and online school, and they came across this program.”

Stanford Online High School is different from most other online schools in that there are scheduled classes every day, while many online schools are self-paced.

As he travelled around the world for show jumping in horseback-riding competitions, Porter discovered online classes allowed him to continue school as normal no matter where he was, making it incredibly more efficient than a brick-and-mortar school like the one he attended for so long.

“For example, I was in three consecutive shows, three different shows,” Porter said, “that lasted three weeks in Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C. and Lexington, KY. And I could attend those three weeks of school from those three different hotel rooms. And I didn't get behind at all because I could just do the work after the competition, attend school during the day, and compete in competitions at night.”

However, online education suffers from key issues as well. One of the greatest issues with Stanford Online High School and other schools of its kind is a lack of social interaction. While SOHS promotes face-to-face interaction through clubs and summer sessions, Porter still feels the school falters in this area.

“I find that St. Mark’s kind of brings you out of your shell,” Porter said. “It encourages you to interact with other kids, interact with teachers, and I find that it makes you feel like a part of a community. Whereas at SOHS, given that it is an online school, it is obviously super difficult to maintain that feeling of a community.”

Headmaster David Dini expresses similar concerns with the online setting, and feels the lack of face to face interaction is one of the key reasons brick-and-mortar schools won’t be going away.

“You can only replace some of the information transfer,” Dini said. “You can’t replace the human interaction online. You can create certain elements of it through Skype, but obviously the human dimension and the relationships we believe are fundamental to the experience here will always be critical.”

But while the online scene may not make brick and mortar schools obsolete, faculty and students alike feel certain aspects of traditional learning will change in the coming years.

“Online education is not a fad that is going away,” Nachbar said. “Schools need to find effective ways to blend online and on-campus learning so that students are skilled learners in both domains.”

Having experienced both the online and physical setting, Porter echoes Nachbar’s sentiments and is confident in the future of a cooperation between the two options.

“Although a lot of schools are being created online, “ Porter said, “I think that the idea of a brick and mortar is not flawed at all. If anything, this combination of brick and mortar and online will be dominant, but I definitely don't think brick and mortar schools will be nonexistent.”

Claire Goldsmith, SOHS director of admission and external relations, also emphasizes the potential for harmony between physical and online schools and feels students should take advantage of the opportunity to combine face-to-face classes with online ones.

“There are many ways online schools can cooperate with brick and mortar schools,” Goldsmith said. “Sometimes, brick and mortar schools aren’t able to offer a particular subject, or level of a subject, and an online provider can meet that need so that the school does not have to hire an additional teacher.”

Likewise, Gonzales urges faculty to consider the goal of synthesis between the online and learning environment, as he feels that a lack of faculty enthusiasm was one of the contributing factors to GOA’s short tenure on campus.

“I think that there are some of my colleagues who fear that their employment is in jeopardy,” Gonzales said. “That could not be further from the truth. We are not going to do away with brick and mortar schools, at least in the philosophical and missional aspect of this institution.”

Nachbar also believes that campus based schools are not broken, but they are not complete either.

“It’s incumbent upon leading independent schools,” Nachbar said, “to find ways to offer their students opportunities to develop the skills needed to be modern learners, and to expect their faculty to teach in modern ways.”

But whatever the reasons for the GOA’s disappointing results in the past two years, Mlakar, and all the faculty, rest assured that the online scene will make a return.

“I think it was an exciting opportunity for kids that maybe we just didn't sell hard enough as an opportunity for them,” Mlakar said. “ I think it's an ongoing, ‘to be continued’ discussion, and I'm glad that we're not moving away from it entirely and never coming back to it. We're taking a year off, a year hiatus, and when it’s over we'll see where we go from there.”

A new face for feminism

Lavish living rooms, petite terraces, whitewashed bedrooms and massive, white-and-black tiled kitchens.

This is her home — her element.

But the home would be incomplete without the high-heeled woman adorned in pearls, vacuuming away. It’s her job — and her only job — to make the home comfortable for the breadwinner of the family: her husband.

She does nothing more than fill her role as homemaker. Dust the lamps. Prepare dinner for her family. Be Mrs. Mom.

In the 1950’s, the sitcoms of the day — popular television shows such as Leave it to Beaver, or I Love Lucy — all had the same sets.

Fast-forward a decade, to the era of Mad Men.

Now, they are secretaries and assistants to professionals. Bit by bit, women gain rights, proving their abilities and asserting themselves in a man’s world.

But they’re still perceived as physically, mentally and socially inferior. Half a century later, the horrid mistakes of the past are almost imperceptible — but the prejudices still linger.

You fight like a girl. You sound like a girl. You’re being like a little girl.

Like a girl. 

Even here, in the halls of 10600 Preston Road, sexist comments are unavoidable: in the locker room. In the classroom. Everywhere.

But in an effort to make the transition from a sexist past to an equal future, UN Women, a United Nations organization dedicated to gender equality and women empowerment, has launched the HeForShe campaign to bring one half of humanity to support the other half—bridging the gap in gender inequality to promote a world of solidarity.

As a spokesperson for the campaign, actress Emma Watson delivered a call-to-action speech to the United Nations—a speech designed to bring men into the feminist movement. A speech to show the sexes—long combatants in the battle for rights and equality—are indeed, just that— they’re equal.

Watson’s speech aims to free feminism from the “man-hating” label it’s so often associated with. And in order to do so, she challenges men with a simple question.

How can we effect change in the world when only half of it is invited or feels welcome to participate in the conversation?

An international perspective

The HeForShe movement is not the typical feminist movement. For the first time, the conversation isn’t just about women, and it’s not just led by women.

“We would like to create a solidarity movement for gender equality that addresses the issue from a humanity standpoint," Executive Director of UN Women and leader of the campaign Elizabeth Nyamayaro said in an interview with The ReMarker.

Even though the movement is barely a month old, thousands of supporters, men and women, have already joined the campaign. The movement gained worldwide attention when Emma Watson launched the campaign in her speech to the U.N. Sept. 20.    

“Within three days we had reached more than 100,000 men, but that was not the most impressive thing for us,” Nyamayaro said. “All of a sudden, within three days, the whole world lit up. In every country on earth, for the most part, at least one man had heard about the campaigned and activated their country.”

The wave of support has extended across continents and has ignited a change in the way people think about feminism.

“So HeForShe movement is an open call to action and sharing the space of feminist movement and creating a robust dialogue to action,” Founder and CEO of the World Women Global Council Dilshad Dayani said. “The World Women Global Council supports this solidarity movement for gender equality. The message is the same: to be allies and supporters for human rights, which is inclusive of genders."

It’s not just about raising awareness, though. HeForShe is implementing a seven principle guide to show how people can strive to achieve gender equality in everyday life.

“Right now we are really working with gender experts, with men organizations, to come up with concrete actions of how do we move the HeForShe campaign from just raising awareness to where we are able to create impact through policy and legislation,” Nyamayaro said.

According to Director of Counseling and gender issues expert Barbara Van Drie, change happens when people build their empathy skills and are able to take the perspective of another group of people.

"There are still many issues our society is dealing with in achieving gender equality," Van Drie said. "Whether it's violence against women and girls or what they're dealing with at a more subtle level. There's the legal threshold of change and then there's the day-to-day interaction."

From the subtlest gestures to sweeping legislation, HeForShe plans to change not only the inequality in the world, but also how feminists are perceived.

“This has been a woman’s struggle for a very long time and we’ve come to the recognition that the issue of gender inequality can no longer be associated with just women,” Nyamayaro said. “Men have sometimes been the perpetrators, but we also know that they can be the solution.”

What is feminism?

As society has progressed, the United Nations realized that it needed clarify its definition of feminism, given modern society’s gender stereotypes and the negative connotation that the word has come to acquire.

“Feminism is simply a movement to protect our rights as humans and that does not exclude men,” Dayani said. “Modern feminists believe that both men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

In a similar vein, the campaign stresses that the feminist movement is not just about giving women more rights, but also about working towards equality for both men and women of all walks of life.

“Feminism isn’t about the hatred of men, or about promoting women above men” Lower Grades Counselor Gabriela Reed said.“Feminists highlight the ways in which women are equal to men and promote the ways women uniquely contribute to society.”

According to Dayani, it takes a courageous man to dismantle his patriarchal jurisdiction, especially since men have time and again ignored the rights of women.

“The HeForShe movement is different in that it is an open call to action—sharing the space of the feminist movement and creating a robust dialogue to action,” Dayani said. “The feminist movement is about human rights.”

Most importantly, however, the success of the campaign depends on male participation. The male population must identify as feminist for society to truly progress. And in reality, the success of the campaign depends on men’s impression of human rights. Any male believing in gender equality is a feminist.

“Can men be feminists? Of course,” she said. “The action is now being witnessed, and they need to be feminists in order to make the right progress, in order for the right social justice, in order to bring the right development into the families, communities and nations. HeForShe is a call to action.”

What’s our role?

According to senior Avita Anand, an outspoken leader on the issue of feminism at our sister school Hockaday, Marksmen’s flawed idea of feminism not only permeates thought, but also action.

“I think St. Mark boys talk down to Hockaday girls a lot,” she said. “There’s a common thread of debasing our education system or the work we put out and whether or not they mean it in a sexist manner, it definitely comes across as so.”

Anand, who chairs Hockaday’s Junior World Affairs Council and Model UN and has served as a co-President for Youth Initiatives for Women Leadership, a program hosted by the World Women Global Council, believes that feminism must be central to the male identity.

“If you’re not a feminist, then what are you?” she said. ”Identifying as feminists would be a huge step [forward]. By not wanting to call yourself a feminist because it has feminine in it, is like perpetuating the notion that being like a girl, or girly, is a bad thing.”

For centuries, women have stereotypically received a less fruitful education, keeping many of them from succeeding at the highest societal standards and reaching their full potentials.

It is this notion that modern schools, including Hockaday, have tried to dispel. In fact, Anand believes that gender roles can creep into the education setting in coed environments.

“Hockaday allowed us to grow into the people that we are," Anand said. "Other schools shape girls into a mold. But at Hockaday, we are fully allowed to be who we are, and in that sense, it’s empowering. Because so many other girls in the world are deprived of this education, it’s our job to serve as ambassadors and fully embrace the feminist ideology.”

At the same time, boys and young men also benefit in a similar way from the same sex-education. And it’s escaping these gender stereotypes that allows both sexes to realize their full potentials.

“As a new faculty member at St. Mark’s, I value that this is a place where boys can be themselves,” Reed said. “I’ve seen boys be more introspective and open with their feelings than I believe they would allow themselves to be if there were a girl sitting at the next desk.”

Reed suggests that embracing manhood is just as important as recognizing female empowerment.

“Challenging our assumptions about women and their intellectual abilities and strengths is a really good way to combat our stereotypes,” Reed said. “Students need to be exposed to women leaders and thinkers in order to help them see that there is nothing a woman can’t do in this world.”

Students in the community also try to combat these stereotypes with clubs that discuss global issues.

“One of the things we do at the Amnesty International Club is that we talk about human rights or issues such as gender equality,” senior Rishi Kshatriya, president of the Amnesty International Club said. “Feminism is certainly one of the issues that we have and one that we will continue to talk about over the course of the year. So, I think that the members gain a better perspective on what gender equality truly is. These sorts of educational seminars, such as ‘Peacemakers’ in Lower School, are necessary in order to raise awareness for such an issue.”

Similarly, students must realize that the perspectives they develop at the school carry forward in their adult lives.

“At St. Mark’s, where the community is all male apart from the faculty and staff, it’s very important to refrain from making degrading comments.” Kshatriya said. “It’s important that we, as a community, emphasize gender equality when we step out of the bubble. We know it’s a big issue — comments that you overhear in the locker room or the field are generally R-rated and can be highly punishable outside of the St. Mark’s community.”

The feminist movement strives to blend gender roles, removing social obligations to fit a specific role in a relationship. According to Anand, in an ideal situation, men wouldn’t be obliged to hold open the door or pay for dinner.

And in the same way, women, if they were to do the same, would not be seen as aggressive. Any such interactions would be seen as acts of kindness.

“I don’t think St. Mark’s boys will go out in the world and do anything that will put down women,” Anand said, “but I do believe that a person can be sexist without actively repressing women. It can be present in their subconscious and attitude, affecting smaller everyday behaviors.”

In essence, the male population must strive for balance in approaching gender stereotypes, realizing that there truly are two sides to the coin.

Open conversation with the opposite gender is the most productive way to eliminate sexist ideologies. But more importantly, the most important thing men can do to help the movement is raise awareness.

“On the pendulum of gender roles, society is still skewed towards male dominance,” Anand said. “So, people who are in the complete center, feminists, are still seen as extremists. Our generation has been raised to think that girls should be nicer, not always express their opinions—society is still such that both genders have things to work on.”

Eddie Bernice Johnson Transcription

Can you explain Obama’s executive action?

The goal is to attempt to do a background check on people who attempt to purchase guns, in order to keep guns out of the hands of irresponsible people. It affects the federal agencies, the Bureau of Tobacco, Alcohol, Arms and Explosives, which is called the ATF, and the FBI to close loopholes through lawmaking processes that overhauls the federal background check system.

 

How will this affect the safety in our country?

I think it will have a great impact because we have observed that there are people who are mentally deranged that have killed multiple innocent people without provocation. I think a number of people, including me and the president, think that if you do a background check, including on people who are not emotionally stable at the time, they should not be able to purchase a gun at that time. All kinds of murders can be prevented.

 

What do you think is the next step from here?

The executive action is in place. Whether or not there’s any legal action taken in attempt to nullify it or challenge it, that’s yet to be seen, but it is in place now.

 

What is your opinion of the open carry act recently instituted in Texas?

I disagree with the open carry act because I think it’s too broad. Open carry now can be anywhere, like churches and schools. The laws in Texas are already very broad, so I disagree with the law, especially because it has no provision for background checks.

 

What is the district you represent?

I represent District 30. It takes in all of Downtown, most of the city, and then it takes in Duncanville, Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Lancaster, and Wilmer-Hutchins.

 

Have there been specific incidents in your districts that have prompted you to take a stance on gun control?

I don’t know about those kinds of specific incidents in my district, but there have been specific incidents around the country. And although I represent my district, I am also a part of the congress, which represents the nation.

 

What about guns on college campuses?

I'm not sure if we’ve had a situation where there haven’t been guns on campuses, but with open carry, there is a great potential that there will be a lot more guns on campus. Texas has suffered many suicides, intentional murders, unintentional murders, so I think the proliferation of guns brings up the likeliness of lives lost.

 

Where do you think the root of the problem lies?

I think one of the roots of the problem is the proliferation of guns. Where there is no proliferation, there would obviously be less gun action. Secondly, I think we would need more access to mental health care, which we having a lacking for throughout the nation, but especially in the nation. When people have mental health problems, there are hardly any places, at this time, where they can go.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

I think that the most that I can say is that I don’t see the value of the proliferation of guns. We aren’t the wild west and we aren’t a place without rules. I just don’t see the necessity of having handguns that widely available. I believe in people having the opportunity to hunt, and I believe in people having ownership of guns, but I do think they should be registered and background checks should be held.

 

Why do you think the problem of gun control has proliferated so much in the U.S. instead of other parts of the world?

I think that our constitutional provision and the 2nd amendment has been misinterpreted. The constitution speaks of a militia, which is the military, but it’s been interpreted that everybody’s a part of the military, which I think is an over-interpretation.

 

What should the interpretation should be?

The constitution speaks to the militia, not the individual. It speaks to the military.

I don't think it’s really gun control, but it’s more gun-sensitive, so I think we can have a more safe society where there are guns.

More than a museum

Ross Perot Jr. '77 sees Dallas from 1,000 feet above the ground. High above the city in a Hillwood Development helicopter, he points out his company's various developments.

Alliance Airport, a massive airport that fuels growth in North Texas. The Perot Museum, an innovative new museum in downtown. Victory Park, one of the biggest entertainment venues in the city.

His office is covered in maps with sweeping views of the region that illustrate where he's made his mark and where he plans to act next. From that height, he sees beyond buildings being constructed and toward the progress of the city.

 

"I was born here, and you always want to take great care of your community because this is a city I love, and you certainly want to make it better every day," Perot said. "We want to make our city better, make our community better, but we try to do that in lots of cities and countries around the world."

All developers must take risks when developing a property, but these risks seem small when it comes to making one's home better, the reason behind many of Perot's developments.

"We will do things here in Dallas that we wouldn't do in other cities," Perot said. "We wouldn't take the risk of Victory Park in another city. Dallas needed a developer to clean this up, and not many people had the ability to clean it up or the staying power to clean this up. But we did, and we did it."

The Victory Park project provided Perot with a way to turn a wasteland into a vibrant part of the city, a project that received the Phoenix award from the Environmental Protection Agency, an award that recognizes exemplary redevelopment and revitalization.

"Most of our peers are afraid of these issues just because they haven't done it before, but now we have our credibility," Perot said. "We know how to work with the EPA, and we go cleanup these environmental projects around the nation, and it's become a great business for us because again not many people have the time and patience or experience to go climb that mountain." 

Perot's success in Dallas has been the growth rates that fuel the area and the result of his willingness to take risks. His Alliance Airport development in north Fort Worth is both a product of that growth and a contributor to it, and yet very few people know of its impact on the Metroplex. 

"That area in north Fort Worth is one of the, if not the fastest growing region now in the United States," Perot said. "So when you have those kinds of growth rates and that amount of people moving in, whatever you're developing is going to work if you're semi in the fairway to make it work."

While Perot's projects usually have an economic effect, they also sometimes have a cultural effect as well. Victory Park changed downtown Dallas into a vibrant tourist attraction with the American Airlines Center (AAC), the downtown sports arena for the Dallas Mavericks, the Dallas Stars and the host of many other events. The Victory Park area is surrounded by restaurants and other modern buildings, completing its transformation from a wasteland to a center of culture.

"If you own an arena, you've got basketball, hockey, concerts, family shows," Perot said. "An arena can be used every night of the year. So it's a great energizer, And so, to have the arena in the Uptown area, brings millions of people a year into this area. The reason people come down-town, is because of the American Airlines Center, and hockey and basketball. It brought the people, it brought the energy, and it brought the image." 

The AAC made an economic impact in both the private and the public sector, something Perot attributes to the success of the Uptown area. 

"The impact of Dallas has been huge," Perot said. "You've bought another 45 acres that was dead onto the tax rolls and now we've put millions of dollars of development onto it, tens of millions of dollars in taxes and it's allowed this Uptown area to really boom." 

Perot believes the American Airlines Center attracts many people to visit the city. But he suggests the main draws to becoming a Dallasite are the city's culture and its people. 

"You look at all of the people moving in, you know, they're all greeted, they're welcomed, its an easy community to assimilate into, and that's the great magnet of Dallas-Fort Worth," Perot said. "It's a very positive, pro business, open-minded, optimistic culture." 

The success of the American Airlines development allowed for other pieces of projects to be pursued, such as The Perot Museum of Nature and Science. 

"We didn't envision the Perot Muse-um," Perot said. "When we started doing all of this, we had no idea we'd have a museum here. And so, it was really one deal after another, it wasn't a big vision. You've got to have a great foundation, you've got to be creative and flexible, and then you've got to let the market come to you and let the deals come to you."

Perot believes that the museum will continue to be an important aspect of the downtown area, and hopefully inspire some to go into math and science fields.

"I think the museum will continue to grow, and normally with a science muse-um, you don't stop at phase one," Perot said. "There will be a phase two, a phase three. It's been very popular, very successful, and you'll see that museum continue to grow. One thing about a museum, you want to impact young people and hopefully they will turn to engineering and science."

Most of the land in Dallas has already been bought and developed, so future developments will require destruction of already existing buildings. 

“The key to downtown uptown today is you go back into old land and redevelop," Perot said. 'Tear down old buildings, put up new buildings. Tear down old houses, put up new houses. And you see developers now doing that. You'll see one of these 1950s' buildings getting torn down and new buildings getting put up. That's the next play." 

As long as properties in Dallas remain profitable, Dallas's growth will continue for many years. 

"You have to have great impact on the community" Perot said. "You have to have great product. And it has to be profitable. If it's not profitable, then everything stops. You don't get the investors, you don't get the bank debt, and so you've got to have everything together to make it work. That's the art of being a developer. You have to have the quality, the design and the profitability wrapped into one pack-age. And it's not easy to do." 

Because of the economic success of the city, the open-minded people and the possibilities for the future, Perot believes Dallas is the best place to raise one's family for the foreseeable future. 

"Go off and have great adventures, learn the world, take advantage of all your opportunities," Perot said. "But at the end of the day, come home and raise your families here because this is a very special place that gives you great opportunity. Our growth rates are not going to slow down. This region will continue to grow, and the region needs leaders. At St. Mark's we produce leaders, you guys are going to be needed. You'll be needed and you'll make a great mark." 

Trump said it. Do you believe it?

Drugs, crime and rape.

That’s what Presidential Candidate Donald Trump said “Mexico is sending” to the United states.

And to stop illegal immigrants, Trump wants to build “a big, beautiful, powerful wall.”

Then he wants to send those immigrants here, millions of people, back to Mexico.

People we see every day. People who are now part of our community.

***

Miguel Plasencia ’15 grabbed a sweatshirt from the Lion’s Closet. He wanted to represent his new school, so he threw on one of the first ones he could find. A white sweatshirt, SMLAX written in yellow letters across the front. The new seventh-grader, in his new gear, headed to lunch, but he was hit with an unexpected question.

Yo, you play lax? Another seventh-grader at the table asked Plasencia.

What do you mean? He’d never heard that word. Lax.

You play lax? They repeated.

He still didn’t know.

You don’t know what lacrosse is?

The kids laughed.

As a first generation American, Plascencia didn’t know what the sport of lacrosse was. His friends didn’t play it, and his parents certainly didn’t play it. In fact, his parents were both immigrants from Mexico.

His mom used a fake visa, with all her real information. His dad hiked over the border.

Plascencia’s parents came to America to provide for their family. And Placencia thinks that many Mexicans, the ones who own houses, live here and go to work here, come to America for similar reasons.

“Mexico is known for being a country for having a lot of drug-dealing and trafficking, but the people that come here to the United States . . . they are there because they have a job to do,” Plascencia said. “And that job is to advance their culture. To advance the people they love. To make people better, to make people smarter, to make their kids have a better future.”

Another first generation American, Hilario Vargas ’15 says his parents moved to the United States to find better opportunities. Opportunities that his parents didn’t have in Mexico.

His dad walked for hours to cross the border. His mom did the same, meeting her uncle on a nearby interstate.

“Being a first generation American and coming from a Mexican background, I believe, had already put me in a disadvantage to those people who were born here,” Vargas said. “However, it's all about opportunity, that's what really helped me and is still helping me. The opportunity to join an institution like St. Mark's and then a higher education beyond that.”

Plascencia and Vargas both came from similar situations, and when their paths crossed in the Great Hall, listening to former Headmaster Arnie Holtberg deliver a speech to new students, the two instantly identified with each other.

They hailed from Oak Cliff, which really helped out when Plascencia needed a ride home from a spirit party and no one else in the grade could give it to him. They both went to public school before, mainly hispanic. But now the two had an experience as first generation Americans that many others at school hadn’t had.

“[Being first generation] pushed me to be like them, so my kids could be like you guys were,” Plascencia said. “So that my second generation Americans can live comfortably and live well. That’s what I strived for. When I saw a lot of [other] guys and saw I was first generation, it made me want to go prove everyone wrong.”

As an immigrant, Student Services Supervisor Miguel Mesta has found a life at the school. He even learned English from the students here.

“They used to send me 10-15 boys a day, and I was taking them out to clean tables back in rooms and other little things,” Mesta said. “But when I was saying something wrong, it was always one student who would said ‘Mr. Mesta, you say it like this.’ That’s how I learned a lot from the students at the school.”

Immigrants, and descendants of immigrants, like these community members have always fueled the growth of this country. But there are still questions remaining regarding the issue of immigration. Important questions, ones that Trump brought to the forefront of the national headlines still stand: “Who do we let into our country?”

Local immigration lawyer Harry Joe addresses this issue.

“[Trump] says America’s need for these people is a magnet for them to come into the States,” Joe says, “and he’s right about that. This country has a very long history of needing and relying on immigrant behavior.”

The immigrant who wants to work is not the issue according to Wes Butler of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency.

“From a law enforcement standpoint,” Butler said, “we want to stop the bad stuff, the bad people.  Our big concern is not someone coming over here to work illegally. I don’t think somebody who’s going to be supporting their family working two minimum wage jobs is really going to start wrecking the economy.”

But even so, Butler has to enforce the law universally, even when it’s tough.

Like when Butler encountered an immigrated woman who had been living in the U.S. for ten years. She had two kids who were born in the United States. She had no criminal record. She was completely innocent of any crime, but he had to deport her, and consequently her children went with her.

“That’s the thing. It’s black and white,” Butler said. “There’s no gray in there. You can’t just sit there and let something slide. The law is the law. She came over here illegally, she overstayed illegally, that’s it. You can’t just all the sudden choose what you want to enforce. You have to enforce it all.”

Many politicians have proposed solutions to this issue. Trump’s solution: mass deportation and building a wall. But Butler, who works on the front lines of the immigration issue, knows the reality of the problem.

“There’s always a Trump out there or somebody with the same ideas that Trump has,” Butler said. “He doesn’t understand how impossible doing all that would be.”

Vargas has similar feelings about Trump’s plan.

“I don't know why anyone in their right state of mind would vote for a man who is as ignorant as he is,” Vargas said. “I don't know how easy it seems to him to be able to deport 11 million people but it would be impossible to do that. His plans for the United States are improbable and unrealistic.”

Joe doesn’t deny that there are bad people who come over to the U.S. illegally, but the idea of removing them all seems too difficult to pull off.

“And then those that are bad, those that want to cheat and steal, no country should take them, and the United States is no exception,” Joe said. “ But do we really want to kick them all out as Donald Trump is saying? Are we willing to pay the price for it?”

Joe says the the only way for Trump’s plan to work is to criminalize the hiring of illegal immigrants.

“Make it a crime for people to employ an undocumented worker,” Joe says. “You make it a crime to employ people who mow your lawns that are here illegally. Now, is this what you really want to do?”

As an immigrant himself, Mesta knows what it takes to immigrate to the U.S. and find a new job, a new life.

“But most of the people, I can say, they cross the border to get a better job, to live a better life,” Mesta said. “I put myself as an example. I grew up helping my mother raise a family. Moving into the United States, our idea was to work and send money to them to survive. And at the same time, I learned how to live here in the United States.”

***

Plascencia was curious. He knew his parents came from Mexico, but now their home was in America.

“If, somehow, Mexico and the United States went to war, who would you fight for?”

“I love my country of Mexico, but the United States has provided me with a life,” they both say. “And for that, I’d lay down my own life for the United States.”

And for Plascencia, that’s what being an American is.

“It doesn’t matter the color of your skin, where you come from, but it’s an ideal,” he says. “A sense of being. A sense of something greater than yourself.”

Would you buy a person?

Matt Osborne ’90 sits at a table in a restaurant in Mexico with Mario. They’re talking business. Negotiating prices, numbers and logistics — just a typical meeting with a client for Mario.

But Mario isn’t selling a product or a service. He’s selling people.

What Mario doesn’t know is that Osborne is an undercover agent for Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.), which saves women and children who have endured years of sex trafficking.

Back at a vacation home in Acapulco, Mario snaps his fingers and parades the girls out in a row. Their outfits barely cover their bodies. Some wear dark sunglasses to hide the mix of fear and the haze of the drugs they’ve had pumped into them.

Some are 19 and have been in the business for years. But Osborne has seen girls as young as 12.

Despite the disgusting scene in front of him, Osborne has to maintain his cover as an American “sex tourist” — he has to pretend like he’s interested in the “merchandise” for his “boss.”

“I simultaneously wanted to throw up, I wanted to punch the guy,” Osborne said. “But I had to stay in character and say, ‘Oh yeah, the big boss man’s gonna like that.’”

Little does Mario know, a team of Mexican police are hidden everywhere throughout the house, ready to make the arrests the instant Osborne gives them a signal.

“Never in a million years do these guys think we’re coming after them. Because no one has,” Osborne said.

Finally, these girls are going to be saved. But for some of them, human trafficking has become too much a part of their life. For some of them, it’s too late.

For the vast majority of girls in the sex trade, it is not a choice to sell her body. Behind most victims is a deep history of abuse and abandonment.

The average age a girl enters the sex trade is just 13 years old. It’s not any child’s choice to be a sex slave.

In fact, according to O.U.R., two million children worldwide live as sex slaves. Texas ranks 2nd in the country for the most human trafficking. In Dallas alone, about 400 trafficked teens are on the streets every night.

But human trafficking does not discriminate, crossing boundaries of class, gender and age and generating an estimated $150 billion in yearly profits.

So why don’t we talk about human trafficking?

Perhaps the lack of conversations is due to the misconceptions, or the simple lack of knowledge of what actually happens to the victims.

Perhaps it’s the perception that all sex workers sell themselves by choice. But the reality is that the controlling arm of a trafficker has forced many women into the sex trade.

Sergeant Alfred Nuñez supervises the vice unit of the Dallas Police Department and works to pursue human traffickers.

“What we try to do is to try and find out if [sex workers] are doing this on their own, or who’s behind them,” Nuñez said. “A lot of times they make an outcry for us, and will tell us that there’s somebody behind them that’s putting them up to this, and at that time we consider them victims, and we treat them as such, and we start trying to obtain additional information so that we can make a case on a trafficker.”

George Lynch, CEO of Traffick911, an organization that works to rescue and rehabilitate minors who are victims of sex trafficking, clarifies that children are not simply swept off the streets by the perpetrators.

Instead, underprivileged children with often difficult home lives are identified by traffickers and coaxed in over time with lavish gifts and promises of love and a better life, only to find something much more terrifying.

“When you’re really dependent on [the trafficker] for your feeding, your care — he tells you he loves you — then he starts to flip on you and say, ‘You know what, if you love me, you’ll go do this. It’s just one time,’” Lynch said. “And then it’s, ‘Do it again tonight.’ And then before you know it, they are then required to deliver a thousand dollars in revenue every night — ten, 20 men or women come in and say, ‘This is what I want you to do.’ They show them pornography on their telephone and they say, ‘This is the act I want done and I want it done like this.’”

Between the overt sexualization of women in the media, the ready access to pornography and “adults only” outlets on sites such as Craig’s List, there is far more access to and tolerance of the sex trade.

At the New Friends New Life educational forum at the George Bush Library Feb. 22, FBI Special Agent Deborah Michaels, who oversees the Child Exploitation Task Force in North Texas, emphasized the difficulty investigators face when pursuing online predators and traffickers, especially when their targets are children.

“The internet gives predators a larger pool of clients,” Michaels said. “And a lot of times victims don’t even know they’re victims.”

Technology and social media also enable traffickers to market their victims and maximize their profits.

“For the most part, you don’t see minors walking the streets selling themselves,” Lynch said. “It is arranged online, by text message, advertising and marketing of this person as if they were a product. And the deal is made, and that’s how they get their jobs lined up for them. Frankly, a cell-phone-enabled world is how most of the transactions happen.”

Another misconception is that all of these victims are shipped overseas to places like Cambodia or Thailand — which some are — but in reality, many stay right here in Dallas, trapped in hotel rooms or sold at parties.

And these children aren’t always sold by a predator — sometimes it’s a friend or family member putting the price tag on them.

“High school students are selling other high school students,” Lynch said, “and moms are selling their high school students or junior high kids to get meth or cocaine or whatever their need is, and so [trafficking] does not mean that they are going out of state or out of the country.”


Many people think trafficking only happens in places they’d never visit in their lifetime, but in reality, it’s all around us.

It’s even at places like the Super Bowl, the Final Four, many big events around the country, where people will come to have a wild weekend and purchase sex.

“Now, where do you go?” Osborne asks. “Do you go to adults? Do you go to kids? Do you go to those who are choosing to work or do you go to those who are trafficking victims? That we don’t know, but we always see at these Super Bowls and other big events that they have these big busts and trafficking stings.”

Dallas Executive Assistant City Attorney Melissa Miles, who has called for new attitudes against sex trafficking, spoke about the widespread nature of this issue at the educational forum Feb. 22 as well.

“It affects people all over the city, in North Dallas as much as anywhere else,” Miles said. “The issue cuts across all demographics.”

Sex trafficking can be expensive, so the demand side of the industry sometimes consists of wealthy businessmen.

“They’ve done everything — they have no more adventures left because they’re at the top of their business, they’ve got their families, they’ve got their networks,” Osborne said. “And it’s what is their next risk? A lot of it is traveling overseas to have these crazy weekends, purchase sex. And for those who have gotten hooked on pornography, they get to a point where it’s not a rush anymore unless it’s something truly illegal, truly out there. And that’s where we see a lot of kids being exploited.”

Surviving life as a slave doesn’t necessarily end the pain the victim endured.

It’s often a lifelong burden that carries poverty, a criminal history and mental health disorders.

And all of that can be retriggered at any moment.

“[You] can’t just get a Band-Aid on it and say, ‘there you go, you’re all fixed up,’” Lynch said, “because if a woman or a young girl is trafficked at 14, let’s say she’s successful and she becomes a mom and her daughter reaches the age of 14; she has all these flashbacks to the horrors that she endured, and it retriggers that trauma in her until she becomes almost paralyzed with concern for her own child.”

Before the long road to recovery can begin, however, the victims first have to escape their life of slavery.

Through O.U.R., Osborne has been able to fight for a cause he believes in: rescuing victims of human trafficking.

“What we are trying to do is first and foremost to rescue victims — to pull them out of the hell that they’re living in,” Osborne said. “We realize that the Operation Underground Railroad is not the long term solution to this problem of human trafficking because you can’t arrest your way out of this problem or rescue your way out of this problem. You need to have a societal change.”

Even after the victim gets rescued and is able to live freely, sometimes life after sex trafficking isn’t worth living. They’re often too far gone.

Osborne has seen it happen. Even after the police carry Mario and the other traffickers away in cuffs and offer protection to the girls, the problem is not automatically resolved.

One of Mario’s slaves, 16-year-old Alicia, had only been in the sex trade for a few months and was overjoyed at the thought of being free. But Linda, the 19-year-old, tells Osborne she doesn’t think she can escape safely. Criminals are threatening her and her family, and she doesn’t think she can live any other way.

I’ve been doing this for years, and I’ve been told that all I’m good for is to service these guys.

As hard as it was for Linda to walk into a place where she thought she would be sold, her pimps and traffickers had distorted her world so much that she couldn’t walk out a free woman.

Her life belonged to Mario, and even after he was out of the picture, she was still not out of captivity.

I’m going to go back into it.