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Locally made film spotlights human trafficking

Locally-made film spotlights human-trafficking Monday, February 2, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

APPLETON, Wis. (WLUK) -- A locally made short film is spotlighting human trafficking. A preview of "Innocence Sold" was shown Monday morning in the Outagamie County board room.

The full film will be shown at the 17th annual Wildwood Film Festival, which is set for Friday and Saturday at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center in Appleton.

Paul Evansen is the moderator for the Wildwood Film Festival. He told FOX 11 that human-trafficking is a personal topic for him.

"The topic of human trafficking became a very personal development in my life not that long ago when my paths crossed a young woman in distress," Evansen explained.

Evansen noticed that young woman was walking alone and under-dressed.

"Those simple fact alone and a gut reaction is what caused me to turn around and gave me a way to circle back and at least initiate a conversation with that lady. We were able to get this woman out of a potentially very dangerous situation," Evensen said.

The average age of a person coerced into the sex trade is between 8 and 14. Signs of human trafficking include drug and alcohol issues, unexplained absences from class, and signs of physical abuse.

"Any sort of having possessions that they may have not before, so like an increase of clothing, their hairs done, nails done, multiple cell phones," Abby Persons, a social worker with the Outagamie County Youth and Family Services, said.

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline 4,460 human trafficking cases were reported last year. Forty-seven of those cases were in Wisconsin.

By showcasing this film, organizers of the Wildwood Film Festival hope it helps combat human trafficking.

"It touches on, engages and educates people and is currently used as a tool by various non-profits including 5-Stone," said Jason Buss, director of the Wildwood Film Festival.

The festival will have a community conversation revolving around the issue of human trafficking on Friday.

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