It is so easy to spend our time binge-watching Netflix series, locking ourselves away with the latest and greatest entertainment apps, or falling asleep every night to The Office (GUILTY). However, there are some powerful documentaries that we can set our sights on that will not only help us gain amazing insight into the world of modern day slavery, but will also empower us to want to do something. Below are 5 incredible documentaries that will educate you on the current state of the greatest offense on Human Rights: Human Trafficking. And when your tears dry and outrage subsides, check out my article, 4 Ways to Fight Human Trafficking Right Now, as I’m sure you will feel the urgency to do something.
01 | I Am Jane Doe
I Am Jane Doe chronicles the epic battle that several American mothers are waging on behalf of their middle-school daughters, victims of sex trafficking on Backpage.com, the classified advertising website that for years was part of the iconic Village Voice. Reminiscent of Erin Brockovich and Karen Silkwood, these mothers have stood up on behalf of thousands of other mothers, fighting back and refusing to take no for an answer.
Note from the Editor: When I viewed I am Jane Doe, I was cooking dinner for myself. I had to stop what I was doing multiple times to walk away and cry. However, I didn't just cry--I wept. My heart was overwhelmed, not solely by the injustice, but by the fearless mothers who stood for their children and devoted their lives to fighting back. I was also moved by the no-name abolitionists across the no-name small towns who are marching throughout Washington and banging on the doors of Congress relentlessly for the millions whose rights are not recognized by the government. These women and men are my heroes. This film was the final motivation I needed to join the fight myself.
02 | In Plain Sight
Envisioned and developed by Awaken Media, IN PLAIN SIGHT seeks to raise awareness of the thousands of women and children who are forced, coerced, or deceived into the commercial sex trade each year in the United States. Through the mediums of a documentary film, study guide, and accompanying benefit music album, we open the eyes of the average American to what’s happening “in plain sight” – the exploitation of thousands of people in their own communities without them even being aware.
Most Americans are completely oblivious to the fact that thousands of women and children are enslaved within their own communities. This isn’t limited to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and New York. We’re talking about cities across America – from Sacramento to Little Rock to Baltimore – where the unthinkable is happening “in plain sight.”
Note from the Editor: In Plain Sight was an eye opening experience for me. It shocked me with harsh statistics and the reality that human trafficking happens in our backyards. It also brought me hope. There are many victims in plain sight, but again, there are many heroes in plain sight as well.
Nefarious: Merchant of Souls is a hard-hitting documentary that exposes the disturbing trends of modern day sex slavery. From the first scene, Nefarious gives an in-depth look at the human trafficking industry, showing where slaves are sold (often in developed, affluent countries), where they work, and where they are confined. With footage shot in over ninteen different countries, Nefarious exposes the nightmare of sex slavery experienced by hundreds of thousands daily, through the eyes of both the enslaved and their traffickers. Nefarious features expert analysis from international humanitarian leaders, and captures the gripping and triumphant testimonies of survivors in order to galvanize hope and vision. From initial recruitment to victim liberation-and everything in between-the previously veiled underworld of sex slavery is uncovered in the groundbreaking, tell-all Nefarious: Merchants of Souls.
Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth is a documentary about the shocking reality of domestic minor sex trafficking in the United States and the rising movement of advocates fighting to abolish it.
Note from the Editor: I viewed this documentary a few years ago at the Time Square premiere which felt fitting as the theatre was hidden between a sex shop and an XXX Club. I remember being so impressed by the producers and wanting to grab a pitchfork and march next door. Much like the other documentaries, Sex+Money: A National Search for Human Worth will educate you as well launch fire within to join the movement to end modern day slavery.
05 | The Abolitionists
On December 10th, 2013 Special Agent Tim Ballard turned in his Homeland Security badge and resigned from his employment with the United States government. He had spent over a decade rescuing children from child sex tourism both domestically and overseas. Though his job was difficult, he was proud that his country was one of very few in the world who was actually doing anything about this problem. However, mired in red tape and bureaucracy, Tim left to begin saving the children that he saw falling out of the purview of the US government. These children constitute over 90% of the children lost to child sex slavery and he could do nothing to help them while in the employment of the US government. This is a story about the lost children and the rescue team’s exploits as they investigate and liberate enslaved children from around the world.
Note from the Editor: This film demonstrates true bravery and will fill you with hope for the human race. We’re not use to seeing news about human trafficking on our media outlets, so we don’t know about the brave men and women that are risking their lives to save children that are enslaved (over 200,000 according to the documentary). This film will cause pride to swell in your chest as you witness good defeat evil one operation at a time.
Please share with use the films that have moved and inspired you!
Elena + The WTA Team
(Photo courtesy of I Am Jane Doe)