Trade of Innocents – The Freedom Project

May 4, 2013

I will be short. But it will not be sweet.

On Wednesday night, I went to a screening of a film called The Trade of Innocents.

It stars Academy Award winner Mira Sorvino and seasoned actor Dermot Mulroney.
Inspired by real events, it explores the gargantuan problem of trafficking girls – in this case, in Cambodia.
Yes, it’s a Hollywood movie but no, it was not picked up by the mainstream cinemas.

*Small rant moment. At a recent outing to the cinema (after a very long absence) the movie trailers on offer were for:

Iron Man #3 – Gi Joe – Star Trek #2 – Die Hard #278 – Man of Steel.

Lots of larger-than-life, über men, being heroes, surrounded by the same super-dooper special effects and gratuitous shots of women in little clothing.* Rant over.

I understand that a movie like the Trade of Innocents is not a big hit with people wanting to escape – but aren’t we endangering our ability to see past the whopping pile of stinking special effects?

Our world is in trouble.

So I went along to this screening, thanks to Liz and Mike Newton-Brown, a married couple who started The Freedom Project a few years ago, and help trafficked children. Actually help.
I met them at the screening of it’s a girl last year and they are truly inspirational.

After the film ended, we were shrouded in dread.
It was sombre in there; silent except for the sound of some sniffling noses being quietly cleared, from crying.

I can’t get out of my head the scene where a sweaty and pasty American tourist says he wants a guaranteed virgin – that he is willing to go as low as a 5 or 6 year old, but that his preference is a 7 year old, “For a month’s use.”

I felt sick as I saw girls, the same age as my daughters, being sold for sex – girls who, in the scheme of things, were just unlucky enough to have been born over there, instead of over here…even though it happens here too – albeit on a smaller scale.

Mike and Liz then spoke some facts with us.
A Hollywood movie is one thing…but the following just drove it all home:

800,000 – 4 million men, women and children are trafficked each year.
They don’t really know the exact figures.
Of those:

  • 80% are women
  • 50% are children
  • The average age of girls trafficked, is 11; the average age of boys, is 12.
  • 75% of people sold into slavery, are sold for sex.

A child is sold into slavery every 30 seconds. Every. Thirty. Seconds.

It’s the fastest growing crime in the world.

1. Arms
2. Drugs
3. Slavery

With the first two, once you shoot a bullet you’ve paid for, or taken the drug – it’s done.
It’s used.

But a human being can cost as little as $40 and once owned, is used over…and over…and over…

The three areas of trafficking are:

1. Sex
2. Slave Labour
3. Forced to kill – like child soldiers. These are the hardest to get to and is the worst, as it can include all three unimaginable horrors.

I don’t know what those statistics do to you, but this has profoundly affected me.

The gravity. The insurmountable size of it.
As I walked to my car that night, I cried.

Question #157: What can be done?

Well, The Freedom Project is doing something. It’s  big and they need help.

They’re working in two areas at the moment.

1. Burma – a drug ravaged and fuelled area using child soldiers.

They recently smuggled 10 children into China – out of slavery.

They have saved and are currently looking after 150 children – providing housing, food and education. On their Facebook Page they posted the following image with this caption:

Seriously, this little guy’s smile is SO heartwarming! A precious soul we are caring for – now in a life of FREEDOM.’


Look at his face.

2. Philippines – An area in the south which wants to be an independent Islamic state, also using  child soldiers to fight this battle.

The Freedom Project wants to build 50 schools. They’ve built 2 so far.

The fil had a quote that said: “They have a massive network – we need a bigger one.”

So that night I decided to join the network:

  • I bought a t-shirt


  • I will be donating to help them
  • And I have spread some awareness through this post – even if only to a few.

And it doesn’t matter what you do – or what channels you do it through – every tiny bit helps; whether it’s to save one child or a thousand…or dare we dream more?

I leave you with this trailer for a documentary that we were shown before the screening of Trade of Innocents.

It’s called Nefarious: Merchant of Souls – and it focuses on the selling of women.
It has won over 24 Film Festival Honours and can be bought on DVD on their page, HERE.

Please help.

Deep Breath.


7 Responses to “Trade of Innocents – The Freedom Project”

  1. Kristie said

    My heart has just sank. Those poor little children. Will order my shirt now.

    • questionsforwomen said

      They’re pretty cool t-shirts. Lots of colours. I really like mine. x
      I’ve been dragging a heavy heart for a few days.
      Every little bit helps – although the only way for anything substantial to happen, is through global, government action against it. Until then, we can only do our bit.
      Lots of love. x

  2. Jacquie said

    I visited Cambodia about 3 years ago and loved the country and its people so much, I stayed for a month. As I was traveling with my partner, we were never “offered” anything, ie drugs, children for sex, etc; however we did meet many single guys that were traveling alone, and we asked them if anything was “offered” to them. And sadly yes, on a daily basis.

    We and these guys were disgusted and disturbed that this was happening, although all around the country you would see posters on buses and billboards advertising that sex trafficking and sex with children is a crime. I even saw stickers in hotel rooms (attached to light fittings and in bathrooms) stating this fact and listing a telephone number for children if they were in trouble.

    This small fact as stayed with me forever. It is such a massive problem, but every little gesture helps. Immediately on my return home, I joined a charity for the children of Cambodia. A small gesture I know.
    But I thank you Paula for interrupting our busy schedules and making us stop and think about these issues.

    • questionsforwomen said

      Thank you so much, Jacquie.
      I hate to be a bummer and write about these things – but it has really stayed with me too.
      The biggest problem is the way it just continues to grow. The more people ignore it and turn a blind eye, the more these guys get away with making a lot of money off human misery.
      It makes my heart ache.
      Thank you so much, again, for sharing your story and your words of encouragement. xx
      Not many people have read this post but I also understand that it’s heavy and confronting.

  3. I watched this film during my Christmas holidays last year, and I couldn’t stop crying throughout most of it. I was planning on doing a paper on child trafficking, and that’s how I found it. It was heart-breaking.

    There are so many little things we can do, as the ‘lucky’ ones who know about the reality that trafficked individuals have to face, the least of which is talking about the problem openly. I find that the topic is so hush-hush most of the time, and makes people very uncomfortable. I, on the other hand, feel uncomfortable NOT talking about it. I feel like openly discussing the issue is the first step to raising awareness, and making people see it as a problem that affects all of us, and not just ‘them’.

    I don’t know if you’ve ever watched it, but I usually enjoy watching the Big Bang Theory. Recently, though, there was an episode where Raj, one of the main characters who is originally from India but is now researching and working in the US, says something along the lines of having four servants back home, and then says “and two of them were children”. This is supposed to be a joke, but I found it utterly distasteful, because it made a mockery of the harsh reality so many marginalized children face the world over. It was very insulting to me, particularly because I was born in India, and spent quite a bit of my childhood there, seeing first-hand the destitution that many children face. I was lucky enough to have been born in a relatively well-off family, but I saw many children forced to work as house-servants at a very young age instead of going to school, because their parents could not afford to educate them. It was really tragic, and I am glad my family saw how wrong this was and tried to help in any way they could.

    Anyway, point being, child trafficking and servitude (whether it be for sex or labour) is disgusting and deserves our attention, especially because we have the knowledge and resources to work to stop it.

    Thanks for sharing the trailer for Nefarious. I hadn’t heard of that one, but will check it out when I can.

    • questionsforwomen said

      No worries. I’m a bit nervous about how upsetting that documentary is going to be. Thank YOU for sharing your story.
      I have a love/hate feeling with Big Bang Theory. On the whole it’s funny, but there are a lot of ‘jokes’ and representations I don’t care for.
      I agree. We must put this out there. Unfortunately, it will be one of my least read posts (along with so many posts with other topics I discuss) as people really don’t want up know.
      It’s like if they ignore it, it doesn’t exist.
      Onward and upward, I say. We can’t remain mute about such a horrific stain on our humanity.
      It was lovely to have you stop by and share. 🙂 x

      • 🙂 I feel the same way about that show.

        It is said that many people are content to live life with so much ignorance – it really is NOT bliss.

        You’re welcome! 🙂

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