Having just celebrated Easter it feels even more poignant to ask, what is a soul worth?
For God it was worth his Son.
For Jesus it was worth his life and all the pain and suffering leading up to it.
For many of our ancestors they believed our lives were worth their lives.
In many places in our world a life can be bought for a lot less.
Nefarious, merchant of souls is a documentary by Benjamin Nolot. It realistically recreates some of the trauma these girls experience. If you have survived this industry please be aware of that before watching. Nothing in this documentary shocked me but if you aren’t aware of this element of our world, it’s advisable not to read this article or watch the film before bed.
Nefarious starts in Serbia before travelling to Moldova, where 10% of the population has been trafficked. After the fall of communism in 1991, half of the adults left the country for work. Since then thousands of children that to society don’t exist have entered orphanages only to then be sold into prostitution.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.
After the girls are broken, body, mind and spirit they are sold on the black market to the highest bidder. The buyers expect to get about 2-7 years of work out of them. Many girls are then locked in a room and never let out. Their only contact with others are the men let in day and night to do what they want with them.
Since 1989 an estimated 400,000 women have been trafficked from Moldova alone.
Others end up in Strip clubs, Massage Parlours, Escorts, Karaoke Bars, Girly Bars, Shop windows, the streets, the waterfront. I can still vividly recall years ago seeing with my own eyes all the girls lined up along the beach in Pattaya, Thailand. Over a hundred spread out about an arms length from each other. With no screen to disconnect me from the brutal reality of the world we live in. It’s as heartbreaking to remember as it was to see it first hand.
The girls working in Amsterdam's famous red light district could be from any of the 27 eastern European countries seeing up to 30 men a day. With the money they earn going to the criminals running the operation. The documentary interviews former prostitutes, pimps, buyers, and sellers. According to Melissa Farley research and clinical psychologist executive director prostitution research and education, “there is no difference between legal and illegal prostitution, organised crime run them both”.
60% of prostituted women in Amsterdam report being physically assaulted.
Nefarious highlights a previous government sponsored ad targeting international visitors. “The one fruit of Thailand more delicious than durian is its young women.” The girls come from poor rural areas to the cities in the hope of being able to provide for their family. That’s the ones that enter the sex trade voluntarily yet out of necessity. The ones that are forced can be purchased for as little as 100,000 baht or $3,000. In Thailand alone there are about 3 million girls in prostitution with about one third of them children. That’s over half of the population of Melbourne or Sydney.
The interviews with Don Brewster were some of the hardest to watch as he shared his experience working on the front line as executive director of Agape International Missions. He recounts an undercover mission he went on where his bill was:
- Beer $4
- Grapes $5
- Girl for 1 hour (do what ever you want with her) $3
Don and his team offer the girls an escape. Housing, food, education, so they can stay out of the sex trade and provide for themselves and their families. Don calls the girls parents but the parents say no. They offer the parents money, the parents still say no. It isn’t just the poorest of the poor families doing this, some are doing it for tv’s or mobile phones with some fathers spending the day drinking, smoking and gambling rather than working. According to UNICEF about 20,000 children are trapped in prostitution in Cambodia.
My contact that led me to watching Nefarious, Annie Lobert is one of women interviewed for the USA part of the documentary. I’ve been aware of the work she does through Hookers for Jesus and Destiny House for years. She knows first hand in America the clients may pay more but for the women the destruction of who they were created to be is the same. While around the world we are currently seeing a double digit excess death toll. Something not seen in most countries since WWII. For women unfortunate to find themselves in prostitution they have a mortality rate 40 times higher than the national average.
The average age of entry into prostitution in the U.S. is 13-14.
Dan Allender, psycologist and anti-trafficking advocate states in the film, “No woman is on the streets, because she likes sex, and/or wants money. It’s a system of exploitation, manipulation, threat, violence, but all fundamentally under the fear and deep sense of shame that I have no value.”
One of the most memorable quotes in Nefarious is by Swedish National Rapporteur Dectective Inspector Kajsa Wahlberb, “Prostitution is about men masturbating in womens bodies, nothing else.” Sweden is one of the few countries at a government level, proactively working to save vulnerable girls. Purchasing of sexual services was criminalised in 1999. They target those organising and seeking the services while offering assistance to the girls. Sweden has the lowest rate of human trafficking in the European Union, Otherwise it’s left to people like Don and Annie to do what they can.
With over 90% of girls taken out of prostitution returning to it within a year a lot of work needs to be done on restoring their worth. They definitely don’t need our judgement or condemnation they need our love.
Though not a part of this documentary I love the work that Captivating, Honor 1000 Movement and Sanghaya Foundation are doing in the Philippines a country that ranks fourth in terms of countries with the highest number of prostituted children. Their programs are seeing generations of vulnerable people set free. Since meeting one of the women behind these projects I’ve supported them as much as I can. With the lack of income I’ve had in the past few years I’ve wondered if I was born female would I have ended up like one of these women?
This isn’t just a problem in Serbia, Moldova, Paris, Milan, London, New York, Las Vegas, Israel, Turkey, Dubai, Amsterdam, Thailand, Cambodia, or the Philippines.
It’s happening in your neighbourhood too.
Would your community embrace you sharing this information with them?
Are you in a position to support any of these organisations with more than just increased awareness and prayer?
Later in the year I may share about another one of the documentaries from Exodus Cry. Between now and then watch them all yourself if you can and then share them widely.
3 of Neville’s most read articles from 2022:
Neville Hiatt was the 2020 Press Services International Tronson Senior Writers Award Winner for Australia. His previous posts for can be read here.
He spent a decade working for Radio Stations before his career was intermissioned by someone in a hurry to get home from work. For more of his award winning creativity visit http://nevillehiatt.com.
He also blogs for http://altcoincollege.com/covering the way cryptocurrencies and blockchain are changing our world.