Nigel's Eyes

20230107 Lured: human trafficking.

In the past year, authorities in Malaysia have rescued more than 200 victims lured by job scams where offers of lucrative work overseas led to various forms of victimisation, abuse and - even - slavery. That's just one country. In fact, there's an epidemic. But it's not new.

After WWII, the British film industry was still in "make stuff with value" mode following on from wartime films intended to shore up morale and to educate. Today, they are seen as propaganda, and they were, but they served a vital purpose. And after the war, films with a message continued.

In 1947, Lucille Ball (five years before The Lucy Show and far from the ditzy character she played there) plays an American dancer who is trying to find her missing friend, confusing called Lucy.

Lucy, it turns out, was one of a number of young women who went missing after responding to vague job advertisements in the classified advertising section of a newspaper.

Somehow Ball's character is recruited by Scotland Yard to go undercover and to respond to newspaper ads.

In one case, she responds to an advert by a serial killer but is rescued before, as Lucy had been, she is robbed and murdered.

In the more pertinent case, she responds to an ad by a butler in a grand house who is fronting a scheme to recruit English women to go to South America. The inspector in charge of the case, sets out the scheme very succinctly and in terms that resonate today.

"So far as the girls are concerned, where do they get them?"

"Oh, various ways, such as the personal column. They round up young girls who are attracted by the promises of luxury, trips to foreign countries with all expenses paid, a guarantee of an easy job. Then they are shipped out."

"When they land, they get the full lowdown?"

"Exactly: some of them are placed as hostesses in nightclubs, if they are attractive enough. Others go into the best families as domestic servants. They are told what to do and they do it. And if they rebel, or talk, they disappear permanently."

While the classified ads of newspapers have largely been superseded by Facebook, TikTok, Instagram and their ilk, the principle remains the same and the warnings are as valid today as they were in 1947 and they apply as much to young men as to young women.

Lured is available legally on Plex and via various illegal uploads.