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Eye opening, disturbing, important - a must see documentary
7 August 2009 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

I saw this documentary a few years ago. It is the only documentary or film that I have seen that has shocked me so much that I couldn't stop myself from shaking. (The only other time in my life that I have found my body shaking like that was after a serious car crash).

This documentary was raw, the interviews and the girls interviewed were raw. It was difficult to listen to their stories and watch their faces as they spoke.

The film did lag in parts. If I made a criticism it would be that I wanted to hear more details about the girls interviewed, and about trafficked woman (from Burma to Thailand) in general. It would have been a better documentary had it included some "expert voices" - from the police, government officials, and people who work in organisations that try to free trafficking victims. An "update" on the whereabouts of the girls interviewed at the end of the documentary also would have been good. I was left wondering whether those girls were still locked in the brothels or if they had managed to escape. I presume a man went into the brothels, pretended he was a client, and interviewed these girls, then left them in the brothels at the end of the documentary - but this was not clarified at all in the film. Questioning the girls about what they wanted in their lives for the future, and where they wanted to work, what they wanted, would have been good also. I want to know what becomes of these girl prostitutes when they become women, when they become older, too old to work... where do they end up? A greater look into the corruption and greed of the police force would have made the documentary stronger also (the police were paid for their silence by the Madams). Parts of the documentary featured a girls voice saying things (via voice-over) that are 'typical' of what a trafficked girl might think - but these were not a trafficked girls own words, and these parts of the documentary were the weakest parts - the words felt less real and more contrived. They also felt less immediately raw and intense, in comparison with hearing and seeing 'real' victims.

This documentary scared and angered me. I have high praise for any documentary that shines a light on people who are extremely abused/vulnerable/needy yet are invisible to most of the world. Children like those in the documentary need their pain to be told, need their voices and stories to be heard. And we - all of us - absolutely need to listen to their stories, and feel their pain. Some people talk about whether a film or documentary is 'too disturbing' or not. I don't think that is the point. I think we all have an obligation to know other people's lives, to not block our eyes and ears just because we are uncomfortable. If we all watch and listen and bring into the light things that shouldn't be in the dark, our world can change. If we all harden our hearts and ignore the pain of others, then none of us will be motivated and impassioned to make changes in our world.

I commend Ellen Bruno for making this documentary, I look forward to more of her word. I thank her for telling the stories of these girls who are locked in rooms for years, and raped; these girls who otherwise have been silenced.


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