Promontory benefit to fight prostitution abroad | ParkRecord.com

Promontory benefit to fight prostitution abroad

C.J. Johnson, Record contributing writer

In 1999 in Nepal as Park City resident Andy Levine stood in a room of thirty young girls who were rescued from prostitution, but were dying of AIDS nonetheless, he was overwhelmed by emotions that devastated, but empowered him. Within seconds Levine’s life changed forever.

"It was that exact moment I realized I could use my talents as a filmmaker to inform the world about the widespread child pornography business that was thriving in India," he explains. "The first step would be to document the true story by combining real words and statistics with pictures that don’t lie."

"For one of the most religious countries in the world I found it quite ironic that in Nepal, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, where the teachings of love and compassion are widely accepted, there was a thriving child sex slave trade," Levine said. The statistics he knows all too well are mind-boggling. "Recruiters capture them, smugglers transport them, brothel owners enslave them, corrupt police betray them and customers rape and infect them," says Levine. "Every person in the chain profits except for the girls, who pay the price with their lives – sexual servitude is a virtual death sentence. In Bombay alone, 90 new cases of HIV are reported every hour and the girls suffer an 80 percent HIV/AIDS infection rate."

Not only in India, but in impoverished countries around the world, children from the lower rungs of society who are uneducated and have few options in life, fall victim to prostitution. Families desperate for income may succumb to the temptation of easy money and sell a child into this form of slavery, or children can be manipulated with the promise of a job in another country that will ensure the much-needed income for their family and naively fall into the sex trade. There are also far too many occasions when young women are kidnapped and thrust into a life of abuse at the hands of the brothel owners.

Levin explains that child sex slavery is a global problem. "The United Nations estimates that approximately 1 million girls and women are forced into the commercial sex industry each year," says Levine. "In Nepal an average of nearly 20 children a day are trafficked into India and the Middle East amount to 300,000 Nepalese child prostitutes in India."

With the help of a hidden camera, Levin went undercover and captured haunting images of children who are enduring this hell on a daily basis. "The Day My God Died" is an Emmy-nominated, feature-length documentary that shows Levine’s actual footage taken in brothels in Bombay known as "The Cages." Throughout this poignant film, the reality of the child sex trade is illuminated as each girl shares her account of abduction and servitude. The film also highlights the heroes of the movement to abolish child sex slavery and the non-profit organizations that actually step in and rescue former slaves.

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Because of his efforts to educate the general public about the plight of these girls, Levine has become an expert on the subject and has appeared on Oprah and has spoken at countless events around the country. Although he has a full life as a husband, father and builder, freeing these girls remains one of his greatest passions. Every single day Andy and his wife, Cindy, look at their beautiful daughter and young son and feel grateful that they live in a country where their children will not live under the threat of prostitution and that they, as a family, can make a difference in the lives of many young women around the world.

Andy and Cindy Levine are hosting a dinner at the Outfitters Cabin at Promontory on July 27 to celebrate the efforts of Maiti Nepal, an internationally recognized rescue and repatriation organization that fight to prevent the child sex slave trade in Nepal. All proceeds from the evening will directly benefit the organization.

Readers who would like to contribute to this cause can contact any of the three organizations that are working diligently to put an end to the child sex trade. To find out more check out:

For more information on the International Justice Mission visit http://www.ijm.org , and for information on Maiti Nepal or Sanlaap, visit http://www.maitinepal.org or http://www.sanlaap-sa.org .

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