Friday, 5 October 2012

A Nefarious Tragedy

Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is a sobering documentary about the victims of human trafficking around the globe. The film takes a shocking look at how millions of women are stolen, deceived, betrayed, and seduced into becoming sexual tools. Benjamin Nolot, writer and director, takes you on a journey across four continents where you witness the horrible and ultimately fatal plight of modern day slaves.

The film looks at three major epicenters of modern day slavery. The first location they examine is Moldova, a country with a GDP of just over 2000$ per person, where it is estimated that as much as 10% of the population has been trafficked. After Moldova declared independence in 1991 the country was hit with a harsh economic crisis. Organized crime syndicates quickly took advantage of this instability to set up lines of exportation for the women they abduct. These lines involve dozens of people; everyone from the taxi drivers that ship them from location to location, to the men who brutalize them, who break their spirits, to government workers and even employees of the UN.

The women who are abducted are often from poor villages. They head to the larger cities, hoping to find work to support their poor rural families. They are seduced by the promises of fake modeling agencies or hotel owners, or by men feigning romantic interest. They get into a taxi, one they believe will take them to their photo shoot or a training center, and they are lost. They are taken to a small room, where they are beaten viciously. They are starved and refused sleep. Often they are given drugs to force dependency. They are tortured until they are meek and willing, and then they are displayed like meat in a butcher-shop to illegal brothel owners and rich businessmen.

The documentary then shifts to Thailand. Shocked by the state of prostitution in Bangkok and the surrounding area, they expand their definition of trafficking to the exploitation of any vulnerability. They examine the women who come from equally poor rural villages (financial power being a common theme) to become prostitutes in a society that openly condones it. This isn't nearly as shocking, however, as the hell-hole that is Cambodia. Here families treat their children as if they are prized pigs at the county fair. They hand their children over to unscrupulous business men, not for food but for luxury items, for televisions and beer. Fathers sit on dingy couches  smoking cigarettes and talking listlessly while their children play in the dirt until dusk starts to settle. Then these innocents are shuffled off to dark and dingy “Karaoke Bars”, where they are forced into small rooms with disturbed men who pay less for their time than they do for a drink.

The last location the directors of Nefarious explore is America's own city of sin: Las Vegas. Here they show women with the illusion of choice. The women are generally of legal age and they often have men who are there for their “protection”. But these men are masters of manipulation. They start by telling young women that they love them. They take them out, buy them flowers, offer them narcotics and show them all that the wonderful city of Las Vegas has to offer. Then, suddenly, the men are a little short on money. They need the cash to pay off a gambling debt, and all she has to do is one little favor, amuse one man, just for a couple of hours. That favor turns into another, and then another. These men, these “protectors” are masters at tearing these women down. They force the women to live two different lives, one where they are they kind and sweetly self, and another where they are a sexual servant. They men even go so far as to force these women to use different names when they are at home from when they are on the job, demanding to see Tiffany when there is a man that wants their service and speaking to Sarah when they pretend to be sweet. The average age of death for these women is 34 years old. 95% of them have experienced some form of sexual abuse as a minor.

Nefarious is a terrifying glimpse into a terrifying world. It is a succession of what if's: What if I had been born into this situation? What if this happened to my family? What if I they had the chance to be free. The movie currently on tour world wide, and the dvd can be purchased online. You can also donate at their website One small warning, Nefarious is a bit religion heavy, so you secular types searching for more information on human trafficking may want to look for alternate sources.

Visit for more info.

By Matthew Ariss

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