Kevin Kline opens film at UN on trafficking in US

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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 20 (Reuters) Actor Kevin Kline's new film on the epidemic trafficking of human beings, with girls forced into prostitution and children into slave labor, opened yesterday at the United Nations.

The film entitled ''Trade,'' inspired by a three-year-old New York Times magazine article, tells the story of a 13-year-old Mexican girl and a young Polish woman kidnapped by traffickers and put up for sale in the United States. Kline plays a Texas policeman who with the girl's brother sets off on a dangerous rescue attempt.

''It tells a story with a human face and tries to make it very real without sensationalizing,'' Kline told a news conference before the premiere. ''The movie is gut-wrenching and alarming and disturbing, as it is meant to be.'' ''It doesn't have blockbuster written all over it, but one hopes is it will have a ripple effect - so the awareness level will be raised as much as it can be,'' he said.

Five per cent of the proceeds during the first few months will go to the Vienna-based Office on Drugs and Crime, whose executive director, Antonio Maria Costa, called trafficking ''the modern-day version of slavery.'' Co-hosting the premiere at the United Nations is Equality Now, a New York-based advocacy group that campaigns for the human rights of women and girls worldwide.

The director is Marco Kreuzpaintner, considered one of Germany's leading young filmmakers.

Kline won an Academy Award for his madcap performance in the 1988 film, ''A Fish Called Wanda.'' A CIA report estimated that between 45,000 to 50,000 women and children are brought to the United States every year under false pretenses and forced to work as prostitutes, abused laborers or servants.

The US State Department reported that about 1.1 million people are smuggled across borders around the world every year, most of them women and children. And the UN International Labor Organization estimated that profits from trafficking humans are some 32 billion dollars a year.

Punishing culprits is often difficult because in some states prosecutors have to prove whether an element of consent was involved.

REUTERS SZ YA RAI1006

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