Want to curb the global sex-trade industry? Catch a movie

Does mainstream America realize the massiveness of the international human-trafficking industry? (Does anyone, aside from those directly involved?) It’s a $42.5 billion business in South...

Does mainstream America realize the massiveness of the international human-trafficking industry? (Does anyone, aside from those directly involved?) It’s a $42.5 billion business in South Asia alone, according to US State Department estimates. And of the millions of people – mostly women and minors -- smuggled or tricked into slavery each year, almost 20,000 end up in the US.

It sounds like a movie – and it is: This morning, nonprofit Shared Hope International released Demand, a new documentary examining the sex-trafficking and tourism marketplace, and calling for its annihilation.

But what may generate a truly unprecedented wave of exposure for this human-rights travesty are the fictionalized, trafficking-themed thrillers that are opening in movie theaters this month.

High on the must-see-if-you-can-stomach-it list is director David Cronenberg’s Eastern Promises. Central to its violent and twisted plot is a Russian crime ring with a knack for transforming Eastern European adolescents into drug-addled prostitutes.

Also out this month, Trade stars Kevin Kline as a cop who must find a young Mexican girl snatched by an underground sex-trafficking network – before she’s auctioned off to the highest bidder. Though the movie is intended to entertain, its Web site includes detailed human-trafficking information, and links to organizations involved in exposing the global sex-slave industry.

If that’s not enough, there are others: Last Seen at Angkor, in which an already off-kilter tourist explores Cambodia's human-trafficking trade in search of his fiance, came out on DVD in July. And Lifetime’s excellent 2005 mini-series, Human Trafficking, just happens to be re-airing this weekend (Saturday, Sept. 15 at 3pm).

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