A Documentary Review of Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex Trafficking
A new documentary, Stopping Traffic: the movement to end sex trafficking, defines a hero as, “a daring and inspiring soul who sees the tremendous pain of others and selflessly undergoes the ultimate challenge to help eliminate their suffering by taking action, never giving up, and making possible what seems impossible.”
Stopping Traffic: the movement to end sex trafficking by Siddhayatan Tirth is inspired by the vision of impacting and empowering youth to take action against human trafficking to prevent it from ever starting in the first place. There is no profit gained for the director as she claims the true gain is the impact, reach, and awareness that the documentary provides.
The film includes interviews with “heroes” from the Philippines, Mexico, New Orleans, and Dallas. I had not expected to be moved so deeply by the stories and statistics. This film reminded me of the reality of human trafficking in our world today and ignited an even brighter flame inside of me to continue on in the fight.
The documentary opens with a shocking statement about the consequences of child trafficking on adulthood from Dr. John A. King, a sexual abuse, and trafficking survivor and now an author, poet, activist, and founder of Give Them A Voice Foundation.
“It’s not the impact necessarily felt as a child because you’re incredibly resilient. It’s when you wake up thirty years later and realize what’s been done to you…and that your life is in total disarray because of it.”
-Dr. JohnA. King
The film then takes the viewer to Thailand, a global hub and the second largest criminal enterprise in the world with a legacy of child sexual abuse fueled by prostitution and tourism. 60% of victims in Thailand are trafficked from other countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia where parents are unable to feed their children so they entrust them to a reliable source who sexually exploits them, uses them as beggars, or teaches them how to steal for profit.
Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, a frontline activist for over 25 years, has witnessed the victims of trafficking starting out at younger ages each year. It is this early trauma that affects the brain and causes teenagers to be vulnerable later on. If a child is brought up in an environment of abuse and trafficking without being aware of another way of life, they are not aware they are even a victim of human trafficking.
"I never thought that my childhood was abnormal until I was older,” claimed Karla Jacinto, survivor, and activist.
Mario, an ex-trafficker, and present activist was a victim of trafficking when he was younger and became a victimizer later in life. He abducted and kidnapped girls with his brothers while never feeling bad for them because it was a business. Now, he shares his story because he wants people to know that sex trafficking exists and it can be stopped.
In the film, Dr. Robert Sanborn touches on the supply and demand of sexual exploitation. “If there wasn’t a demand for human trafficking, there would be no supply of it,”
Sanborn claims. The film emphasized that if we are going to end the demand, we need to make it harder and scarier for people to buy sex because if there are not risky repercussions, sex will continue to be bought and children will continue to be exploited.
From the documentary, I learned how boys endure sexual abuse in Afghanistan. The film explained that sex was used as a tool that brutalized boys and trained them to kill their mothers, which broke them down and made them the ideal soldier. I also learned that human trafficking is a business more commonly driven by the desire for money than the desire to harm others. This makes demand in America higher because we have the money that traffickers want to make. It also explains why out of the 70,000 children trafficked for sexual exploitation each year, 50,000 of these trafficking situations occur at the US/Mexico border.
To read these quotes and statistics is staggering, to watch and hear them is even more impactful. Stopping Traffic: the movement to end sex trafficking is a raw documentary that does not sugarcoat the reality of human trafficking. I was surprised to see actual footage of women lined up on the streets and hear the stories of what survivors went through as a child. Carolina Douthit, a student movement leader, put my feelings into words when she said,
“At first it made me mad… then it made me want to do something.”
The effects of human trafficking are rampant, but the global movement to end human trafficking and the power of the people is growing stronger. I would highly recommend this documentary to anyone wanting to take the next step in advocating for the victims still being exploited. I would also caution viewers as some of the stories are overwhelmingly disturbing and brought tears to my eyes. However, unless we face the darkness of this world, we will never be able to know where to bring the light.
The documentary highlights nine ways you can continue doing your part to end human trafficking. What are you waiting for:
Talk about it on an international and domestic level
Put pressure on public officials to change laws for human trafficking
Change the culture
Stop watching pornography
Punish clients and traffickers
Join awareness groups
Use the area of influence you have
You can find out more about Stopping Traffic by visiting their website below:
If you're interested in viewing the documentary, you can purchase or rent it by clicking on your preferred streaming website below:
About the Author
Kaitlyn Wanta recently graduated college and is now facing the real world. After learning how to stay warm in a dress during Wisconsin's winter, she has enjoyed sharing the stories of fellow Dressember advocates and other resources for the Dressember blog. Her bucket list includes riding in a hot air balloon, finishing a cookbook by making all the recipes, and catching a fish larger than herself.