By Lucia Greene

The national tour of El Milagro’s production “Broken Promises” enlightened the University of Connecticut about the intricacies of the sex trafficking industry on Wednesday night at the Student Union Theater.

The 4-person play centers around a sixteen-year-old girl, who unexpectedly finds herself in an abusive relationship and the newest attraction of paying customers. What starts off as an innocent peek at porn, evolves into a DIY sex trafficking gig in order to escape financial woes and an abusive home.

El Milagro’s Founding Director Dañel Malán said she doesn’t believe that people are aware of these issues and she hopes that this production will change perceptions. She said her inspiration came from 6 years of hearing real stories of pre-teens led into sex work and knowing that their home base of Oregon is number two in the nation for sex trafficking.

Students were invited to participate in a discussion with the actors after the performance in which they delved into the various themes such as victim blaming, the stigma of prostitutes, and the obstacles of finding help.

While the universal message appeared to impact the audience, it was noted that most attendees at the performance were there representing one of the sponsoring groups or for a Women’s Gender Studies course. Audience member and UConn student Elia D’Onofrio said it can be difficult to reach students when they aren’t obligated to participate in these types of events, but conversations are the best tactic to move forward.

“Figuring out how to speak and plant just tiny little seeds of thoughts of hey this exists and this is an issue I strongly believe in and you don’t, but I’m going to keep bringing this in and that way you can start thinking about it and sooner or later you might rope in a few people who actually do care,” D’Onofrio said.

Much like the open-ended nature of the play, the conversation about social issues is open to interpretation as well. The final question the actors ask is “how?” and it’s safe to say that this extends to the community. How does one move forward with this newly acquired knowledge?