Peter Van Sant: We are journalists from the United States. We have bought you because we want to set you free.
Nicoleta: (Through translator) I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You saved me from that hell.
This was the reaction of a 17-year-old girl from Bucharest that was sold to a CBS 48 Hours news team after hearing word she was now free from being a sex slave.
The footage aired during a segment titled “Rescued from the Shadows,” which proved to be a stunning look at the world of prostitution and enslavement.
“The topic by nature is so sensational, and the numbers bandied about so startling (the United Nations estimates there are hundreds of thousands of young women trafficked globally each year), that we were skeptical when a source in Bucharest, Romania, informed us that we could ‘buy’ a young woman — to own forever — with relative ease,” said 48 Hours in its letter to the judges.
“Rescued from the Shadows” started in Romania but ended much closer to home, exposing a Mexican family, the Carretos, who trafficked young girls to Queens, N.Y. In both cases, 48 Hours utilized hidden cameras to document the illegal activity, a move the network called “not only justified, but imperative.”
“The hour received critical praise from law enforcement officials and activists who found our report to be a unique and an important piece of television journalism,” said 48 Hours.
Van Sant, Al Briganti, Miguel Sancho, Peter Schweitzer and Susan Zirinsky all contributed to the documentary, one that helped two teenage girls gain asylum from sexual abuse and launched an investigation against the Carretos.
“This documentary has it all: drama that is real, human interest, new information about an appalling criminal enterprise,” said the judges. “The dedication of this team to rooting out sources and following through is evident. The editing, videography, production and writing are outstanding.”