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Rape for Profit: New Documentary Shows the Faces of Sex Trafficking

Last Updated: March 18, 2014

Luke Gilkerson

Luke Gilkerson has a BA in Philosophy and Religious Studies and an MA in Religion. He is the author of Coming Clean: Overcoming Lust Through Biblical Accountability and The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality. Luke and his wife Trisha blog at IntoxicatedOnLife.com

Prostitution is the main act. Porn is the dress rehearsal.” – Victor Malarek

Sex trafficking may be the social justice issue of this generation. From major cities to small town America, grassroots movements have sprung up to raise awareness, protect the victims, and prosecute the oppressors.

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But the icons of pop culture send a very mixed message. The same celebrities that tweet “Real men don’t buy girls” also make their living starring in sex-saturated Hollywood films. MTV encourages the youth of the world to host flash mobs to speak out against trafficking, but then to the same youth promotes increasingly pornographic music videos of today’s hottest artists.

What’s the message they send? The message is: I can stand against the buying and selling of human bodies for sex, but at the same time I can participate in a culture that tells women they are most valuable when they play to the sexual appetites of others.

This is schizophrenic, at best.

Rape for Profit

Prostitution-related activity is the most common kind of human trafficking in the US. In order to adequately address the massive criminal enterprise of sex trafficking on a national scale, three major pieces must be a place:

  • Supply: Prostitutes must be decriminalized and then helped as victims of neglect, abuse, and coercion.
  • Distribution: Pimps must be brought to justice for preying upon and profiting from the most vulnerable.
  • Demand: Men must escape the lures of our pornified culture that whets their appetites for commercial sex.

All three of these pieces are addressed in the new documentary, Rape for Profit.

Rape for Profit might best be called “vigilante filmography.” Filmmakers Eric Esau and Jason Pamer of Mew Films do more than capture the gritty realities of prostitution: they chase down johns attempting to buy sex, go head-to-head with pimps, and speak tenderly to the young girls trapped in a sad life of sexual servitude.

The Victims

Rape for Profit offers an up-close and personal look at the lives of girls working the streets of Seattle. There, the average girl begins turning tricks at 13 years old, proving that prostitution is not the oldest profession. It is the oldest oppression.

After growing up in an abusive home, Darly became friends with a woman who would later become her madame. “Little did I know I would be in the worst hell,” she says. In the course of her work, she serviced men from every walk of life: lawyers, doctors, businessmen, even pastors.

Her madame forced her to have three abortions in her time as a prostitute. After one abortion she hemorrhaged badly and went to the hospital to have a D&C. The physicians wanted her to stay overnight but her madame said, “No. We don’t have any money for dinner. Get back out there and work.” So she did.

Very few women around the world end up in prostitution without sexual harm in their past, leaving them vulnerable to the advances of pimps and johns who are more than happy to take advantage of them.

Just Lust

Dan Allender from the Seattle School of Theology and Psychology says pimps have “an infinite market.” Everywhere are men who are “seeking the services of an abused woman who has now been caught in the trial of being a prostituted woman.” This, he says, is the essence of prostitution: The misuse of another person’s helplessness for sexual pleasure.

What creates this appetite for young prostitutes? As pornography pushes the limits, portraying women as younger and younger, and as pop culture “adultifies” children in its TV shows and advertising, Allender says our culture is showing signs of a “pedophilic drift.”

“Porn drives demand for trafficking. It’s a form of advertising for prostitution,” says Noel Bouche of pureHOPE. “When a society demands more porn, it’s demanding more prostituted women. It’s demanding more exploited women. It’s demanding more women being turned into objects and commodities.”

In Rape for Profit, each john shares the same story: porn created in them a thirst for illicit sex. One john arrested in the film happened to be deaf. Spying his wedding ring, the cops ask him why he would hurt his family by seeking out a prostitute. Grabbing a pen and paper, the john writes: “Just lust.”

Making a Difference

Producer Jason Pamer says he was first moved to do something about the problem of sex trafficking in his city when he heard Linda Smith from Shared Hope International talk about this epidemic. He says that as a man he felt acutely responsible for this problem. He came to believe that decent men should no longer be bystanders.

According to Debra Boyer’s research, anywhere from 300 to 500 underage girls are selling their bodies tonight in Seattle. In response to this, concerned citizens and law enforcement officials have created the Genesis Project, offering a temporary home for girls who want to get out of the life they are in.

Pamer remembers the night the Genesis Project drop-in center opened. He met two sisters, 14 and 15 years old, who had been selling themselves online. “For me, that put a face to the problem,” he says. “This 14 year old girl is on the street, and I have some say in that.”

Get Rape For Profit on iTunes

I’ve seen a number of films about this subject, but none have moved me the way Rape for Profit has. Several times I found myself pausing the film just to bury my face in my hands and weep for the victims of this heinous crime. I believe a film like this will spur many to action.

Keep in mind: this film is raw and real, dealing with a dark and sinister world. Viewer discretion is advised. You will see several provocative images of exploited women. You will hear johns and pimps cuss out police and cameramen. You will hear stories of brutality, neglect, and sexual violence that will put a pit in your stomach.

But most of all, you will have your heart broken, and you will see the hope that is possible when men stand up for those who are victimized.

When it comes to sex trafficking, the words of John Stuart Mill remain true: “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”

Image credit: event-x-horizon

Pure Minds Online | Issue 38 | More in this issue: Daddy Looks at Porn | Dear Dads: Don’t Just Protect Yourself from Porn | From Slavery to Sonship

  • Comments on: Rape for Profit: New Documentary Shows the Faces of Sex Trafficking
    1. Married to an addict in recovery on

      I want to voice my concern regarding the type of information that is being reported about in this e-magazine, specifically the article regarding the rape for profit film. I strongly advise that the info you are linking to and discussing is a huge problem for the majority of sex addicts. I am speaking as a wife of a sex addict who has been in recovery for three years. While the message of this film is important, there is no reason (with the exception of shock factor) for explicit pictures of women and young girls. I question the motive behind the men who made this film because of the graphic and exploitive photos that are shown in the trailer alone. I plead with Covenant Eyes to exercise biblical discernment when posting and sending out an article and links to such explicit material. You are inadvertently feeding filth and evil directly into the hands of your subscribers with this article -regardless of whether your motive was for awareness regarding the deplorable issue of prostitution. Please use more discernment in the future. Many of the men who utilize Covenant Eyes for accountability have struggled with acting out with prostitutes themselves. Sending them an article with links to graphic images is an extremely poor choice.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Hi,

        Thanks for voicing your concern. We admittedly walk a fine line talking about these matters. The information needed to spur others to action against sex trafficking can simultaneously titillate the sex addict. What motivates one person to action will cause another to think lustful thoughts.

        The fine line we walk is seen in texts like Ephesians 5, which tells us to “expose” the deeds of darkness for what they are (v.10), but at the same time we should not have a hint of sexual immorality or impurity among us (v.3). This takes discernment to know the Lord’s will (v.10). When we want to share about good initiatives like this, we first pray about our own motives, we examine the material, we interview the producers, and then choose imagery that is fitting for the article (I trust the video clips we selected were fitting). We also feel it is necessary in these articles to include necessary warnings, as I said in my review: “Keep in mind: this film is raw and real, dealing with a dark and sinister world. Viewer discretion is advised. You will see several provocative images of exploited women. You will hear johns and pimps cuss out police and cameramen. You will hear stories of brutality, neglect, and sexual violence that will put a pit in your stomach.”

        It is a fine line to walk, and sometimes we don’t walk it perfectly. My apologies. I hope the context of the article, the disclaimers, and the information includes will effectively weed out anyone who shouldn’t watch this film and draw others who should.

    2. Maya on

      I wholeheartedly agree with the above statements made by the wife above! The WHOLE verse in Ephesians 5:11 says: “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

      I too am the wife a recovering sex addict and we as a couple are committed to the same call you all have at Covenant Eyes to “expose the darkness” as equally as we are exhorting others to “take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness”. NO PART! If you are truly modeling “covenant eyes” then you should be gaurding ANY sexually enticing images from those you are leading. (Luke 11:34-35)

      I/We would LOVE to be able to use this video to help spur on The Body of Christ to take action personally, locally and globally, but we cannot because it would be foolish to expose even ourselves to it. (Galatians 6:1)

      If your calling, your objectives, your goals are to steer believers away from the devastation and destruction that these images bring, what makes you think using those very images is an effect means to make that happen? And if it genuinely is to get the “good guys” attention, well your comments in the above article should remind you that everyone started down the road to porn with being exposed to 1 image at 1 time in their lives. The whole article totally contradicts itself in the promotion of a movie with explicit imagery.

      I feel the same way about your promotion of ANYTHING HAVING EXPLICIT IMAGES as you do towards MTV promoting awareness and aid in the arena of sex trafficking! And I quote from above: “This is schizophrenic, at best.”

      I hope and pray you will reconsider promoting this film and/or that you would consider speaking to the film makers about taking those scenes out! I do trust your heart behind all this and consider Covenant Eyes a huge blessing in my life, my marriage and my family! I just see a lack of wisdom here and inconsistency to The Truth. I pray the Holy Spirit will speak to you not by my words, but through God’s Word regarding this issue!

      Reply
      • Michael on

        First caveat, I have not watched the film for the very reason the women above have mentioned. However, also from only my own personal experience, watching a similar short feature on trafficking changes has changed the image of the prostitute in my mind from “a woman who wants sex”, to incredibly hurt people whose lives I could never imagine making worse by watching porn or ever considering going to a prostitute.

        I understand what the women mean when they want the possibly alluring images taken out. But in all honesty, for some of us, it is helpful to have the fantasy brutally connected to the reality. It reminds me of old tales of stern fathers forcing their kid who smoked a cigarette on the sly, to smoke a whole pack to see how awful it truly is. Or modern commercials for drug use which show a good time at a party ending very badly. I hate how simplistically my own mind and body react to images, which is why the need for incredible caution.

        But because this is so, some films make just as strong an impact in the right way, in the same way as the others have had in the wrong. Lord give us the courage and strength to wisely discern the path that leads to righteousness.

      • Luke Gilkerson on

        You’ve got a great point here, Michael. One of the reasons we didn’t post the trailer is because we didn’t want general audiences to click the play button without first having read about the explicit nature of the film itself. Still, I agree, the general public needs to see the brutal realities that are associated with this. People need to choose for themselves whether these films are appropriate for their own eyes.

        Thanks for weighing in on this.

    3. Dan on

      I sympathize with the comments from the hurting wives; undoubtedly there is a legitimate concern here. My opinion, however, is that CE has done their best by not posting the actual previews, but directing people to where they can find them. I don’t think CE promoted this in a way that could be considered scintillating. As noted in many places, if a person really wants to watch porn, they will. The fact that CE exposes the problems with porn could be taken as enticement for some people. The blog post about masturbation could likewise arouse some. Folks like the staff at CE can’t possibly avoid every danger zone.
      For myself: I read “The Silent War” several years ago, in which the author personally interview then-current and former sex-workers. Yes, it was a little scintillating, but my heart was broken by their pain, and it literally changed my whole perspective on the topic. I believe this film will do the same thing for many others – show them the reality of the damage they have caused through their lust. I believe far more good than harm will come from this, and I thank CE for telling us about it.

      Reply
      • Luke Gilkerson on

        Thanks, Dan. I understand we walk a fine line, but it is good to know we are walking it well.

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