Restore One

Combating human trafficking and human exploitation by means of public awareness, practical prevention, restorative care and building domestic and international partnerships.

Nefarious explores state of slavery

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It’s not unusual to cry at the end of a film. The ending of the Nefarious screening was one of those occasions. Among the 200 students and community residents who watched the film, there were more than a few moved to weep.

Nefarious, unlike others, is not a heartwarming fairy tale or love story. “Nefarious: Merchant of Souls” is a documentary about the reality of modern day slavery and the effects of prostitution on its victims. The screening of Nefarious was sponsored by Fuse College Ministry, Restore One and Eastern North Carolina Stop Human Trafficking Now.

The ending of Nefarious was hope-filled, as those formerly in the trafficking industry shared their testimonies of their life changing encounters with God. However, for two hours, the truth, images and stories of human trafficking in the United States and abroad was more than many could stand without crying.

Human trafficking is pertinent to North Carolina. The FBI reports that North Carolina consistently ranks in the top ten  states for reported cases of human trafficking.

“Our state is popular with traffickers because it’s a port state, there are many major highways, it’s a military state, an agricultural state in need of labor and has a high immigrant population,” said Anna Smith who leads Restore One with her husband, Chris.

“We have Charlotte which is the third largest city for human trafficking after Atlanta and New York,” said Justine Williams, the student ambassador for Restore One and a part of Fuse College Ministry, before the documentary began.

There were several women and young girls interviewed to share their experiences. Some disclosed their identity while others did not. Most of the women interviewed were reformers, now reaching their full potential and helping others even though they still feel the pain of their years in prostitution. Not only were former prostitutes interviewed, but former and present pimps, those who purchased females, investigative journalists, pastors, lawmakers and psychologists from around the world.

The personal testimonies were not the only element that primed the attendee’s emotions. The documentary showed footage of red-light districts in many parts of the world and accurate reenactments of the realities of modern day slavery.

According to the film website, the filmmakers traveled across “four continents, through 19 countries, and into dingy Cambodian karaoke bars, Amsterdam’s infamous red-light district, Moldovan orphanages, legal Nevada brothels, and the street corners and alleyways of metropolises worldwide for more than a glance at the fastest-growing organized crime industry in the world.”

The documentary even disclosed the reality of child prostitution. A village in Cambodia famous for child prostitution was filmed and showed how children were sold by their own parents so that their parents would not have to work. Those who pay for the children are usually foreigners. In one scene, a small girl no older than ten years old participating in a sing and dance class with the local church, was abruptly taken away by her pimp. The filmmakers later found her pajamas. They were bloody.

Psychologists in the film all agreed that prostitution in its many forms relies on brainwashing, fear and absolute control. They all defined prostitution as a state where the woman’s mind and body is no longer in her control physically or psychologically, and dehumanization is a key part of manipulation.

“We are giving everyone in the room the opportunity to do something about this,” said Smith after the showing.

Following the de-briefing, attendees were invited to sign up to volunteer in areas like event planning, becoming a part of the street team and hosting informative house parties, among other things.

“I’m so glad that we had a full house when there are so many other things to do on a Friday night,” said Williams.

To become involved in the fight against human trafficking visit restoreonelife.org.

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Photo: Justine Williams

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