Last week, the Loudoun Human Trafficking Task Force had the pleasure of hosting Nefarious: Merchant of Souls produced by the organization Exodus Cry.


In a nutshell, it was excellent.


Nefarious is a documentary on a specific type of modern slavery, sex trafficking. Through it, we travel to different areas of the world- Amsterdam’s Red Light District, Moldova, Cambodia, Thailand, and even our own Vegas. They interview pimps, johns and prostitutes. Then traffickers, abused individuals, and victims. And the restoration workers and law-makers. Of course, this is typical of a documentary on human trafficking. Be sure to check out the trailer below to actually get the gist of the film:


One thing that sets this film apart is that it shows that there is something deeper going on than poverty as the base issue in human trafficking. Of course, poverty is major, setting the stage to make individuals vulnerable. It might be one of the largest contributing factors, but of more importance is a loss of morals, the missing belief that women have an inherent value beyond their sexuality. And the truth that a woman’s sexuality is her own, it is not for the taking, to be used or sold.  It has to be deeper than money when a parent will sell their daughter just to upgrade their TV.

Another thing I appreciate about this documentary was that it really goes into the muddled lines when it comes to sex trafficking. It asks, “Is there a choice?” Personally, I have a hard time navigating this question. Often I think a prostitute is a victim. But sometimes I believe she still has a choice. And often I wonder if she could be both. After watching this movie, the answer is still gray for me. But now I am a much more informed ‘gray” than I was previously. I heard stories from victims, from victims who choose to be victimized, and from non-victims who were transformed. Really, if you have questions about whether a prostitute is really a victim of modern slavery, then watch this movie.

Nefarious talked a little bit about law (what works, what doesn’t), about emotionally disconnecting oneself as a sex worker, about children in the industry, and panic buttons in brothels. All pretty interesting stuff. They didn’t talk about other forms of human trafficking or sex trafficking among boys (uncommon, but it still happens).

What makes this film so appealing, though, is that it leaves you not disgusted, but full of hope. The hope is that there is something strong enough and powerful enough to erase this evil from the world. So, yes, it talks about God; interviewees even talk about Jesus. But it is anything but religious or Christian-y. I would feel completely comfortable showing this film to people who are non-religious, yet at the same time think those in churches are still an ideal audience (with the warning that it is about sex and you might see skin shots, though nothing too sexy).

Nefarious unveils hope by touching on spirituality in such a beautiful, respectful way.

I watched the movie through the tour with Exodus Cry, the organization whose mission is to create a prayer movement to end great injustices like sex trafficking. They challenge you to be what they call an “incurable fanatic,” and based a lot of their rhetoric on William Wilberforce’s fight against slavery centuries ago. I really loved how they presented this. They were passionate, but not scary (yes, I realize I know the term “incurable fanatic” sounds scary, but I assure you that the presentation I saw still wasn’t). They encouraged us to pray for the end of sex trafficking when we are sitting at red traffic lights (reminding us of the red light district) or committing to give $3 a week to fight sex trafficking. Check out their website to learn more:


 Related Posts:

Art of Advocacy: What to Do With that Blasted Holy Discontent

Human Trafficking in Virginia: Is There Hope Tonight?

Documentaries: Growing Our Awareness in 2011