Film Review: “Trafficked” (2017) ★★★★

I doubt films succeed to capture the true atrocities and horrors of life the way they happen in reality, even if those films are based on real-life stories. Still, a caring and considerate viewer – and I believe most of us are – will be able to grasp the horror that the film “Trafficked” is based on. It is already too painful to watch the human sufferings scene after scene, let alone imagine everything that has remained behind the screen – untold – not to terrify us even more. This film, based on the award-winning book “Sex Trafficking” by Siddharth Kara, tells us about humans being kidnapped, traded, enslaved for sex and even killed for their organs to be sold.

The story of “Trafficked” evolves around the lives of three victims – Amba from India (portrayed by Alpa Banker), Mali from Nigeria (Jessica Obilom) and Sara from the USA (Kelly Washington). Through an elaborate global network and corrupted authorities, the three young women end up in a brothel in Texas, where they are promised to be freed after serving five hundred men. However, this promise is never to be kept and the girls realize that their only chance for salvation is an attempt to escape, even if that might put their lives at risk.

As the film starts, we see Mali as an infant and her mother holding her in her arms. She narrates behind the scene: “My mom once told me that being with a man takes only a few minutes, while planting sweet potatoes takes you all day bent over in the burning sun. Mali is to become one of the first victims.

Then the film takes us to India, where the viewer witnesses a chilling brief exchange between a man and a gun trafficker. “Why bother with the villager?” the trafficker is asked. The response couldn’t be more insensitive and cruel: “Money can be traced. But the villagers – not.”

Next, we meet Sara and her younger sister in North California. The Mother Maria, takes care of several children in a group home. We also meet another character of the film – Diana (Ashley Judd) who offers a foster home to Sara, promising a prosper future for the young woman and her sister. Sarah agrees to take the offer, without suspecting that a few hours later she will become a victim of human trafficking, where she will be used as a sex slave. It is Diana’s job to find the perfect candidates for slavery, who in case of disappearance, won’t have anyone to search for them.

Amba, our third heroine, lives in India and is getting ready to move to Boston to continue her education. At a party, she rejects a young man’s proposal. Later on, she gets a dose of Acid, and hours later is kidnapped and  offered to a Japanese man who has been looking for a virgin for his sexual satisfaction.

All three characters are brought to a brothel in Texas, owned by Simon (Sean Patrick Flanery), where they manage to build a special bond and try to help each other. However, they all know that there is no other way to find some peace unless they escape.

Written by Siddharth Kara and directed by Will Wallace, “Trafficked” manages to find the perfect balance, where the horrifyingly true scenes, inspired by real events, are captured very cleverly to provoke discussions but not to traumatize the viewer beyond the acceptable limits. Obviously, this film alone cannot eliminate the sex slavery, gun trafficking or killing from our world. But it will, undoubtedly, encourage the victims of such inhuman crimes to open up, talk about their experiences and through that help the authorities to uncover more such cases.

In conclusion, I would like to leave you with a piece of information from the closing credits of the film: last year, over $100 billion was generated through sex trafficking. It is more than the combined incomes of Intel, Microsoft, Nike, Google, and Starbucks. Now, let us ask one simple question – how and why knowing all of this we do nothing to stop these unspeakably cruel crimes against humanity? A simple question, an answer to which we are yet to find.


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