Benjamin Nolot's award-winning documentary, Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, chronicles the filmmaker's journey around the world as he investigated international sex trafficking of women and children.
Debuting on DVD May 1, the film follows Nolot and his team as they travel through Europe, Thailand, Cambodia, and the United States. At each stop, they uncover a different aspect of the modern-day sex slave trade.
Nefarious reveals tragic facts about sex trafficking: Many trafficked women and children originate from Eastern Europe and Thailand, often in an effort to escape poverty. Once lured into sex trafficking-either kidnapped or through false promises of work-they are physically and mentally abused and forced to work for manipulative, money-hungry men. Crippling socioeconomic systems and corrupt politics make escape virtually impossible. Once captured into trafficking, many are lucky to survive seven years.
The film also looks at the peculiarities of trafficking unique to each country. When Nolot visited Cambodia, he focused on the deeply ingrained sense of duty that many women have to provide for their family. Sadly, many believe prostitution is their only option: Young girls are prepared from an early age to work as prostitutes. It is common for Cambodian parents to sell their daughters into prostitution in exchange for money, fancy gadgets, and the luxury of not having to work.
In contrast, most eastern European women who are trafficked are victims of parental abandon and orphanages, while women who work as prostitutes in Las Vegas do so as an attempt to achieve a rich, glamorous life as upscale call girls.
Nefarious tells a vivid story with compelling and at times uncomfortable detail to make a final point: No matter how they enter the trade, sex-trafficked women are emotionally and psychologically enslaved. The obstacles to freedom are grave and effective solutions to end trafficking are complex.
Nefarious is only for mature audiences. Viewers will be exposed to horrifying aspects about the sex trade, but also to hope. Sponsored by Exodus Cry, the film offers hope that legislation, intervention, and awareness can help end trafficking. More importantly, as a Christian-produced film, Nefarious reveals the hope that the gospel can provide survivors.
This review originally appeared at WORLD New York.