CHAUTAUQUA COUNTY, NY When you hear the word “slavery” what is the first image that comes to mind? Workers on a cotton plantation during the 1800's, or perhaps forced factory laborers in a third world country might be the first thoughts for most people. No one wants to think of a child prostitution ring in Orlando, Fla., or families in Thailand selling their daughters for material items that symbolize prestige. The institution of slavery has not disappeared with our past. It has only changed forms and is now more prevalent in the world than ever.
Every year, thousands of women and children fall into the hands of traffickers in their own countries and abroad. Almost every country in the world is implicated by this injustice, whether as a country of origin, transit, or destination. According to a U.S. State Department report released in March, 2012: Governments estimate there are 27 million slaves being held worldwide — more than at any point in human history. Included in this figure are as many as 2 million children who are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.
In the face of such an atrocity, it might be more comfortable to remain ignorant or turn a blind eye, but many concerned citizens simply cannot do so. Stuart Bauer, an area native has taken this cause to heart. Bauer has become a volunteer for Exodus Cry, an international ministry based in Grandview, Mo. The purpose of Exodus Cry is to abolish sex enslavement worldwide through prayer, awareness efforts, nonviolent rescue, and the rehabilitation and social reintegration of victims.
Bauer’s journey to advocacy against human trafficking began after watching Christian filmmaker Benjamin Nolot’s 2011 documentary Nefarious: Merchant of Souls.“When I saw this movie a couple of months ago I was truly moved and disturbed that human beings could treat each other human beings so badly. I have never been exposed to evil like this in my life. And after watching this movie I thought to myself I can’t just sit back and do nothing,” Bauer said during a recent interview.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported in 2011 that the sale of women constitutes the third largest criminal industry in the world, second only to the drug and arms trades. It can be hard to understand how something so inhuman and degrading can be forced on one human being by another. How do the victims become involved? What kinds of people create the demand that drives this industry? How can we even begin to tackle something that is already so widespread?
Nefarious is a controversial documentary exposing the undercurrent of injustice beneath the surface of sex-tourism. In the fall of 2007, Nolot and his team from Exodus Cry took a trip to Southeast Asia to explore the world of sex slavery. The crew visited dingy karaoke bars, remote villages, massage parlors and high-end beach destinations finding one steady consistency –– the exploitation of young women and children. Content for Nefarious was gathered in 19 different countries; spanning from North and Central America to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Nefarious reveals what life is like for those who are trapped in this lifestyle. Moviegoers will learn about the scenarios under which individuals become victimized, and discover that the needs exploited by the traffickers are not so different from the needs you seek to fulfill in your own life. Viewers will discover that the individuals creating the demand for forced sexual servitude range in all ages, and are not the obviously shady characters you would expect.
Bauer is sponsoring two screenings of Nefarious: Merchant of Souls locally. The first viewing will be held on Tuesday, July 23 at the Willow Bay Theater (formerly The Crown Theater), located at 21 East Third St., in Jamestown. The second screening will be held at the 1891 Fredonia Opera House, located at 9-11 Church St., in Fredonia on Wednesday, July 24. Both screenings begin at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $5 at the door only. Due to the violent content portrayed attendants are asked to be 18 years or older. After the film, Bauer is hosting a question and answer period both days. For more information on human trafficking or to learn how you can become an advocate visit the following web sites: www.exsoduscry.org, www.polarisproject.com and www.aim.org.
Comments on this article may be sent to Erica.Yunghans@star-mediagroup.com.