The play Bee Trapped Inside the Window is a true testament to how one can raise awareness about human trafficking through art. Written as intercut interior monologues sliding into dialogue, the play follows Mia’s coming-of-age story over the course of 15 years through her relationships with her mom and her neighbor, while offering a window into the lives of domestic workers and immigrants.
Bee Trapped Inside the Window was written by acclaimed Romanian-American playwright, poet, and ARTivist, Saviana Stanescu, and co-produced with HartBeat Ensemble, a Connecticut theater company committed to creating provocative performances transcending traditional barriers of race, gender, class, and geography.
On March 18th we spoke with playwright Saviana Stanescu, director Vernice P. Miller, and HartBeat Ensemble artistic director Godfrey L. Simmons Jr. to discuss the play and the themes of human trafficking. We also featured guest speakers Dana Bucin, CTWAC member, immigration attorney and Honorary Consul of Romania to Connecticut, and Leonela Cruz of Project Rescue at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), to discuss human trafficking and how it impacts Connecticut.
Leonela Cruz opened the conversation by clarifying that human trafficking is very difficult to understand as it is “not just sex trafficking and there are labor components to the issue as well.”
Human trafficking is any situation of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power . Leonela discussed that one of the most complex issues is identifying victims. “Anyone can be a trafficker; spouses or family members can all be traffickers. Youth can continue going to school and living at home while being trafficked. Victims of human trafficking do not have to leave their city to be trafficked.”
As human trafficking occurs nationally, it is no shock that it occurs in our state as well. In every county in Connecticut, there have been reports of trafficking. The majority of these reports involve sex trafficking, but labor trafficking is reported as well .
Erin Williamson, U.S. Programs Director for Love146, an organization that works to end human trafficking and provides direct services to child trafficking victims, said “Children of color account for 43 percent of the youth population in Connecticut, but account for 64 percent of human trafficking referrals to DCF” from 2015 to 2017 . Minority children are the most vulnerable to being human trafficked.
As the director of Project Rescue, the Anti-Human Trafficking Program at CIRI, Leonela works with unaccompanied immigrant children who cross the border alone and have identified a sponsor within Connecticut. They are especially vulnerable to being trafficked as many of them don’t speak English as their first language, creating a barrier to seeking help. It is difficult for non-English speaking immigrants to access interpreters to get assistance, and for this reason, immigrants are common targets and/or victims.
Human trafficking occurs because it is profitable; in essence, it is a business. Traffickers target predominantly young victims, particularly young victims of color, between the age of 14-16. In return, victims only receive the necessities for survival. Of the buyers, 99% of them identify as male .
Leonela asserts, “Connecticut is a state where lots of easy transit to nearby states can take place. It’s close to New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Connecticut is a state where people can transit very quickly. People can get on boats and drive down the I-95. On the Berlin turnpike, there are many hotels where people can stay while they transit and move victims.”
The play Bee Trapped Inside the Window raises awareness for the issue of human trafficking in Connecticut. Playright Saviana Stanescu says the play “is a metaphor for being trapped in bad circumstances. I have been passionate about domestic slavery and human trafficking for a long time and wanted to create art to create advocacy around the subject, to bring this subject to light.”
The director discussed how the format of working on Zoom due to the Covid-19 Pandemic helped better portray the isolation that these three characters felt.
For more information about the play and to watch our conversation you can head to: https://www.hartbeatensemble.org/bee-trapped-inside-the-window.
If you want to learn more and educate yourself more about human trafficking and what you can do to recognize the signs and help youth find a safe adult, head over to Love 146’s website.
People deserve freedom. We must work to end human trafficking in our state, country and world.
Written by Kaylen Jackson, Communications & Social Media Assistant