MSNBC describes its documentary series Sex Slaves in America as a show that “expose(s) the dark reality of human trafficking.” But to groups that advocate on behalf of sex workers and victims of human trafficking, the show is misleading, sensationalistic and “exploits those in the sex trade,” according to a letter written to MSNBC asking the network to cancel the series.
The groups, the Sex Workers Project, the New York Anti-Trafficking Network, the Freedom Network, and Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive have co-authored a letter to Tim Smith, senior producer of MSNBC documentaries, asking that Slaves be pulled, and that the network sit down with representatives of their groups to talk about coverage of sex trafficking and prostitution. “MSNBC must stop making a profit off the abuse and trauma of others.”
The letter credits MSNBC with pulling an earlier series, Slave Hunter, in 2013, but continuing to air Sex Slaves in America, which ran for three hours on Sunday, attracting solid ratings–167,000 viewers 25-54 at 10 p.m. ET. “We are surprised and dismayed that MSNBC continues to air programming that exploits those in the sex trade, including possible trafficking victims, and misleads the public on the issue of human trafficking. Programs like these harm the individuals portrayed and hinder long-term anti-trafficking and human rights goals,” the groups said.