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Greensboro screening sheds light on international sex-trafficking

by Mark Burger

The documentary feature Sex and Money: A National Search for Human Worth offers an uncompromising look at the heinous but highly profitable phenomenon of international sex trafficking — and its direct ties to contemporary American culture.

Sex trafficking is big business. To classify it as a billion-dollar industry would not be an understatement. The statistics are more frightening than any Halloween prank: More than 100,000 children are victims of the sex trade in the United States alone.

In 2009, five filmmakers and journalists traveled across the country to expose sex trafficking of minors while exploring the growing modern-day abolitionist movement. The film includes more than 75 interviews with politicians, federal agents, psychologists, activists and the victims themselves.

Screenings of Sex and Money began before the film was even in a completed form, and since then it has played throughout the nation. The filmmakers want to screen it at one church and one university in each of the 50 states. North Carolina gets its turn when the film is presented by Abolition! Ministry at Westover Church (505 Muirs Chapel Road, Greensboro) at a free event on Sunday, Oct. 30.

From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a special fair providing information about the film and its topic, followed by the screening at 6 p.m. and a subsequent panel discussion. Due to the nature of the film, parental discretion is advised.

Jennifer Craver, the co-leader of Abolition!

Ministry, believes strongly in the message of Sex and Money. “Yes, it’s dark. Yes, it’s heartbreaking in many ways. But we cannot turn away from that. Once you know, you know — and you’re accountable.”

Since 2009, Abolition! Ministry has worked with a number of organizations (including World Relief and Tiny Hands International) as a conduit, bringing the message to the masses. “We’re very proud to be the host church for Sex and Money,” said Craver.

Having been involved in the issue for so long, “it’s hard for me to imagine that people aren’t aware of it,” Craver said. “It’s here and it’s growing… and we want people to be aware, to know that it exists right here in the US and right in our own backyard.”

Beginning in 2007, a team of journalists began work on a project that would examine sex-trafficking both here and abroad. The result was the book Sex Money: A Global Search for Human Worth, a collection of stories and photographs offering an in-depth, global perspective on human trafficking.

A team of five documentary filmmakers then undertook the task of putting this perspective on film. They traveled the nation, gathering data and conducting interviews. What they found shocked them, and is very much designed to shock the audience. Sex and Money isn’t a pretty picture, but it’s an important one.

Isaac Gill, one of the film’s associate producers, first became involved in the project shortly after graduating from James Madison University in Virginia.

Gill was deeply affected. “I was overwhelmed,” he said, admitting that it brought him to tears. “It still does. It doesn’t get any easier. It gets harder, even after over 55 screenings. It’s a huge injustice, a massive travesty — yet [the film] paints a positive and hopeful picture for the future.”

According to Gill, Sex and Money “identifies what the problem is, then asks the questions ‘How did we get here?’ ‘What’s at stake here?’ and ‘What can we do?’” Gill used his connections in the independent music arena to solicit songs for the film, even composing one himself, titled “Sun is Still Shining.” Seventy-five percent of the proceeds from sales of the Sex and Money DVD, soundtrack and book (all of which are available on the website) go directly to Streetlight PHX, a Phoenix, Ariz.-based organization that offers a safe haven for victims and is dedicated to eradicating child sex slavery.

“When you meet these people in the film, it goes from being a statistic to hundreds of firstperson stories. Many people are just not aware of human sex-trafficking,” Gill said, noting that one of the purposes of the film was “putting all the pieces together. It’s happening in Small Town, USA and Big City, USA. Education is key. Talking is very important.”

For more information about Sex and Money: A National Search for Human Worth, visit the film’s official website: sexandmoneyfilm.com/. For more information about Abolition! Ministry, visit its official website: www.abolitionministry.org

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