Adventures of a peripatetic human-rights activist committed to exposing the horrors of modern-day slavery and freeing its victims.
Cohen—whose past includes an addiction to street drugs and a business/creative partnership with Jane’s Addiction leader Perry Farrell—transformed himself into a dedicated activist in the early 1990s after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. He began studying Hebrew and working on Jubilee, a peace-through-music movement seeking to lower the debt of third-world countries and to free coerced workers. Journalist Buckley profiled Cohen in an award-winning 2007 article that appeared in LA Weekly. Here she aids him in recounting his escapades in Cambodia, Sudan, Ecuador, Myanmar, Israel and Iraq, among other countries. Cohen’s job, which he refers to as “night frighting,” was to pose as a sex-hungry tourist. He would visit a brothel, select a young girl from a lineup, go with her to her room, gain her confidence, tape an interview and take photos to document the visit. Using the information he gained, agencies made arrests, rescued the girls and placed them in protective custody. Cohen took great personal risks, sometimes getting caught in the crossfire of rival gangs, sometimes being forced to hide and flee the country. The graphic details of his nighttime activities contrast sharply with the quiet hotel scenes, where Cohen said prayers for his father and meditated on passages from the Book of Job. During part of his time abroad, the author was also responsible for the care of his terminally ill father back in California, a task that caused him deep distress and the details of which are disturbing. While Cohen tosses in some statistics and reports on the actions being taken by others, this is not an overview of sex trafficking or any other form of forced labor; it is a personal story of one man’s campaign to rescue its victims. An epilogue urges readers to get involved and provides links to various human-rights groups.
A high-action, low-analysis memoir of a commendable life.