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
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
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