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The Price of Sex

Human trafficking has become one of the biggest and the most wide-spread crimes in the world in last two decades or so. Since the break up of USSR, hundreds of thousands of Eastern European women have been trafficked to countries like Turkey, Dubai and several western European countries. For more than seven years photojournalist Miri Chakarova has documented the victims stories in words and pictures. Some of her reporting aired on Frontline (PBS) and 60 Minutes (CBS). With undercover cameras sometimes posing as a prostitute to gather material, Charkova´s documentary The Price of Sex (2011) is investigative journalism and reporting as its best. Charkova´s approach is well-balanced and never sentimental. With extra-ordinary access, Chakarova interviewed victims of sexual slavery, traffickers, clients and anti trafficking activists. The courage of the trafficked victims talking openly about their experience is incredible.

Chakarova was brought up in Bulgaria but emigrated with her mother to USA in the 1990s. She has witnessed how life has changed in her old village in Bulgaria first hand. The fall of the USSR lead to rise in unemployment rates, especially for women. This is still evident In many of the Eastern European countries where unemployment rates are high and millions of people have emigrated to other countries to seek jobs and better living conditions. Many villages that used to have streets filled with people are now half-empty. Those who stayed behind have little else to do than spend their days waiting for the next one.

The situation is exceptionally bad in Moldova. In a village with ca. 2.000 inhabitants there might be 50 jobs. Young people don´t see a future there and are tempted to go into crimes. Living conditions make women desperate to leave. Human traffickers make the most of the situation often offering the young women jobs as waitresses or house keepers in a foreign country. Thinking they have a lucrative deal, the women are prepared to leave the difficult situation behind without looking back. But once in the foreign country, most of them soon have to face the brutal reality of human trafficking. Once captive, there is almost impossible for the victims of sexual slavery to run away. The few that manage to run away and tell on their pimps, risk being stigmatized as prostitutes for the rest of their lives.

The high level of corruption and limited access to justice makes it difficult to eliminate human trafficking in many countries. Turkey is the prime destination for trafficked Eastern European women.  They are also in high demand in Dubai where  prostitution is in the open and human trafficking thrives. One of the trafficked women in documentary, said she had to serve up to 30 men per day in Dubai. She got pregnant early on, which made here even more popular among the customers at the brothel.

Not only is The Price of Sex the one of the best ones on the topic, but it also has great cinematography by Adam Kekner with Chakarova stills in between. The Price of Sex is simply a documentary everyone has to see. Better still, spread the word about the film and react.

DVD is not yet available since the documentary is still touring film festivals with great success. Here is a list of some of the film festivals it has screened at and awards;

  • Official Selection for Documentary feature Competition at Sarasota Film Festival 2011
  • Winner of Nestor Almendros Award for courage in Filmmaking at the Human rights Watch Film Festival 2011
  • Winner of 2011 Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding International Investigative Reporting
  • Official selection at Silverdocs Documentary festival 2011
  • Official selection at Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection at Vancouver International Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection at Hawaii International Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection at Hamptons International Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection at Cinema by the Bay Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection at Starz Denver Film Festival 2011
  • Official selection Amnesty International Film Festival 2011

Following is the trailer for The Price of Sex. The stills with this post are Courtesy of Women Make Movies.

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