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MTV turns attention to human trafficking

MTV has enlisted Cambodia’s

leading pop star, Preap Sovath, for a documentary about human trafficking in Asia. 

Broadcast on local Cambodian Television Network on March 6, Traffic is the first Khmer program

produced by MTV, the popular US-based music channel.

The documentary, narrated in Khmer by Sovath, aims to raise

awareness about the dangers of migration and increase prevention of human

trafficking, say its producers.

Traffic tells the

stories of three victims of trafficking and people at various stages of the

trafficking chain, including the head of a major human smuggling ring in the

Philippines who has been tricking girls into prostitution for 20 years, a young

man from Taiwan who pays for sex, an anti-trafficking policeman from Thailand

and a woman who runs a shelter in Singapore.

The victims include Eka, from Indonesia, who was sold into

domestic servitude in Singapore; Min Aung, a Burmese man who was trafficked to

Thailand and imprisoned fro two years in a factory; and Anna, from the

Philippines, who was delivered to a pimp by a family friend.

 "It’s impossible for

the girls to escape,” says the trafficker during the movie. "Their rooms are

like a prison.”

He goes on to explain how girls anxious for higher-paying

jobs abroad are duped into sex work. "We tell them we are recruiting people for

work abroad. It’s only when they get there that they discover they’ve been sold

into prostitution.”

Min Aung, meanwhile, was subjected to debt bondage, a

process wherein workers are told they owe money for costs that were never

discussed and which must be paid before they can have their freedom back.

The victims, all of whom were found through local NGOs,

participated because they want to prevent others from falling into the same

traps, says Simon Goff, director of the MTV Exit Campaign in Asia,

a branch of the network that deals with social issues.

The documentary is aimed at Asian youth at all levels of

society since everyone plays a role in the trafficking chain, said Goff. 

"It’s a film that targets different groups because it will

be shown in countries like Japan,

with predominantly affluent audiences that represent the demand side, as well

as lower-income countries like Cambodia

that represent supply,” he said.

MTV produced a version in nearly every Southeast Asian

language. The flagship English version is narrated by Hollywood star Lucy Lui,

while South Korean pop idol Rain lends his voice to a Korean release and Thailand’s

Tata Young, China’s Karen Mok and India’s Lara Dutta narrate the film in their

native languages.

USAID funded the film’s production and MTV donated air time.

The documentary is being release rights free so any group can distribute it as

part of its campaign.

The MTV Exit Campaign

worked with major NGOs in the region to make the film, including the

International Labor Organization, International Organization of Migration, and

Asia Foundation. Goff says the campaign plans to develop a long term relationship

with the Cambodian government’s National Task Force for Combating Human

Trafficking.

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