Movie Review: “The Price of Sex”
A film by Mimi Chakarova
Released in 2011, 73 minutes
Not rated, but for mature audiences only
Reviewed by Laini Cassis, 19
Photo courtesy of" Women Make Movies
"Once a girl has been sold to prostitution, it's nearly impossible to escape." Filmmaker Mimi Chakarova narrates this film about the many facets of modern-day sex trafficking eloquently. Chakarova journeys to Russia, Moldova, Turkey, Greece, and India in search of clues to exposing the underground world of human sex trafficking. I found this documentary to be extremely well done, especially considering the difficulty of the subject at hand.
With a focus on Eastern European women, Chakarova takes a historical look back at the days of communism, when every person in her home village in Bulgaria had equal socioeconomic opportunities regardless of his or her gender. When this system collapsed, however, people began to look elsewhere for jobs, and some women were tricked by traffickers into leaving their country. Now, an estimated 1.5 million nameless sex workers are kept in grim conditions and forced into having sex with "clients." Chakarova even puts herself at risk when she impersonates a prostitute in order to document the inside of a nightclub. The Price of Sex is a very intimate look into this underground market.
This film is heartbreaking and infuriating all at once. "Prostitution and trafficking have nothing to do with sex. It's power. It's violence," says Niki, a women who runs a shelter for women in Athens, Greece. Nightclub owners, clients who defend the industry with rather faulty logic, human rights advocates, and survivors of prostitution are each interviewed to receive their differing perspective on human sex trafficking. The survivors of prostitution have successfully escaped their brothels, and live to tell their harrowing tales of heartless traffickers and brutal pimps. These strong women were teens when they were forced to decide between living a grim life of criminal activity or going abroad to find work and risk being trafficked in the process. History, economics, and sexism are intertwined in the narration of the story of sex trafficking. In fact, I was surprised to learn that prostitutes of different nationalities often earn different salaries. Racism is another factor contributing to this sexist underground market. This serious documentary will keep you on the edge of your seat.
I highly recommend The Price of Sex to a mature audience only, because the stories told by the surviving prostitutes are not easy to hear. One of the most important points raised during the documentary was that the pimps running this underground business rely on the trafficked women remaining silent. After viewing The Price of Sex, I've learned that two keys to ending the hideous global market for human sex trafficking are awareness and using your voice.
For more information on domestic sex trafficking among teens in America, see "Sex Trafficking: An American Issue," in Teen Voices print magazine, vol. 19.1.
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