Latest modern slavery fight updates -

“Shelter” Film Looks at New Orleans’ Trafficked, Homeless Youth

  • Published on
    March 16, 2018
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Child Slavery, Human Trafficking
Hero Banner

“Shelter,” a new film from VICE Documentary delves into the stories of New Orleans’ youth who have been sex trafficked and ended up homeless.

Resources for these youth are sparse in New Orleans, and those who are lucky find help at Covenant House — the only non-profit that is willing to take in these victims in the state.

Many of the teens at Covenant House struggle with drug addiction because human traffickers have always used drugs as a tool. As Jerome Elam, president of Trafficking in America Task Force, points out, “Addiction is used to manipulate victims.”

The Fix describes the opening of the film, where we see phone call to one of Covenant House’s social workers:

The opening is a close-up view of a woman seated at a desk and holding a phone. She has long rows of braids and neon-orange fingernail polish. We only hear her side of the conversation, “What is your problem? She’s a minor.” Her voice is stern, authoritative and she has obviously had many conversations like this before.

Then her tone softens which indicates that she is now speaking to the girl. “He’s known for prostitution,” she says. “Go to the Greyhound station and give them your name. You’re going to have a ticket waiting for you.” She instructs the girl to sit in the front by the bus driver and before hanging up she says affectionately, “Alright, baby.”

Jim Kelly, a staff member at Covenant House, added that social workers need incredible patience in order to help these teens who have experienced severe abuses.

“You’re overcoming the whole aspect of sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape. Overcoming drug addictions. Drugs and trafficking go hand in hand and a lot of people miss that. It is exactly how the pimps hook you and if you’re not already addicted, they make sure to get you addicted.”

For homeless, trafficked youth in New Orleans, recovery isn’t easy. That’s exactly why Covenant House says it will always be there for them.

“If a child leaves, we take them back. If they leave again, we take them back. Because if not us, who? And if not now, when? Some of them have been sex trafficked and those are our most fragile and damaged,” Kelly said.


Freedom United is interested in hearing from our community and welcomes relevant, informed comments, advice, and insights that advance the conversation around our campaigns and advocacy. We value inclusivity and respect within our community. To be approved, your comments should be civil.

stop icon A few things we do not tolerate: comments that promote discrimination, prejudice, racism, or xenophobia, as well as personal attacks or profanity. We screen submissions in order to create a space where the entire Freedom United community feels safe to express and exchange thoughtful opinions.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

This week

U.N. rights chief urges end to E.U.'s support for Libyan Coast Guard

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, has called for an urgent review of the European Union's agreement with Libyan authorities to intercept and return migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Speaking at the Human Rights Council, Türk highlighted the alarming scale of “trafficking, torture, forced labor, extortion, and starvation” endured by returned migrants and asylum seekers. “It is unconscionable that people in

| Tuesday July 9, 2024

Read more