Human trafficking in popular culture

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Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for the purposes of reproductive slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, forced labor, or a modern-day form of slavery. It has been featured in popular culture on numerous occasions.

Film and video[edit]


  • The 2012 film Abduction of Eden is based on the story of Chong Kim, who was kidnapped and sold into a domestic human trafficking ring in the mid 1990s. The film's main character, Eden, a young Korean-American girl, is abducted near her home in New Mexico and forced into prostitution by a domestic human and drug trafficking ring located outside the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada. In 2014 Kim's story was reported to be false by the non-profit organization Breaking Out.[1]
  • The 2008 documentary and concert film Call + Response combines contemporary musicians' performances with an investigative report on worldwide human trafficking including hidden camera footage from brothels in Thailand.
  • Cool Devices, a series of animated hentai pornographic videos released as OVA, human trafficking is part of several episodes.
  • The movie Dimanasus Prophecy by Dzmitry Vasilyeu addresses human trafficking in Eastern Europe.[2]
  • The 2007 film Eastern Promises by David Cronenberg deals with a British midwife who unravels a gang of Russian slavers when she seeks relatives to a baby of a sex slave named Tatiana.
  • The TV miniseries Human Trafficking is a fictional story imitating real life events.
  • Ghosts, a documentary by independent filmmaker Nick Broomfield, follows the story of the victims of the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling disaster, in which smuggled immigrants are forced into hard labour.
  • Holly (2006) is a movie about a little girl, sold by her poor family and smuggled across the border to Cambodia to work as a prostitute in a red light village. The Virgin Harvest is a feature-length documentary that was filmed at the same time.[3]
  • The Jammed, an Australian film about human trafficking in Australia.[4]
  • Lilya 4-ever, a film based loosely on the real life of Danguolė Rasalaitė, portrays a young woman from the former Soviet Union who is deceived into being trafficked for exploitation in Sweden.
  • Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, an American documentary about human trafficking written,[5] directed, produced, and narrated by Benjamin Nolot[6]
  • Not My Life, a documentary film about human trafficking and contemporary slavery[7]
  • Redlight, a documentary film about human trafficking in Cambodia that premiered on 4 October 2009 at the Woodstock Film Festival[8]
  • La Sconosciuta, the 2006 Italian movie by Giuseppe Tornatore is centered around the story of a Ukrainian woman caught in the human trafficking and sex trade.
  • David Mamet's 2004 film Spartan centres on the hunt for the daughter of a high ranking US official who has been kidnapped by an international sex slavery ring.
  • The 2017 documentary film Stopping Traffic directed and produced by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, a Jain monk, Iraq War veteran and child abuse survivor, and the team of Siddhayatan Tirth's monks. The film explores the extensive reach of sex trafficking and sexual abuse especially of children in the USA and worldwide. It features interviews with child sexual abuse, sex trafficking survivors and veteran activists, and commentary from social service agents, doctors, academics, and young activists. It as well features talking points by celebrities Dolph Lundgren, Governor of the State of Mexico Eruviel Avila Villegas, Jeannie MaiKristen Renton.[9]
  • The 2007 film The Sugar Babies by Amy Serrano is a documentary that highlights the plight of Haitian victims of human trafficking in the Dominican Republic. It was produced by Claudia Chiesi, Constance Haqq, Thor Halvorssen Mendoza and funded by the Human Rights Foundation, The Fund for a Just Society, The Crowley Children's Fund, The Pujals Family Foundation and The Nord Family Foundation.
  • Based on true events,[10] Svetlana's Journey (2004),[11] by Michael Cory Davis, depicts the trials of a 13-year-old who loses her family and is sold to human traffickers by her adoptive family. Drugged, raped, and forced to endure continuous abuse by her "clients" and traffickers, she attempts to commit suicide, but survives.
  • In the 2008 film Taken, by Pierre Morel and starring Liam Neeson, the main character's daughter and her friend are taken by traffickers in Paris. In his quest to find his daughter, the movie depicts foreign girls in Paris who are "trafficked" with the purpose of forcing them to prostitution.[12]
  • The 2007 film Trade deals with human trafficking out of Mexico and a brother's attempt to rescue his kidnapped and trafficked young sister. It is based on Peter Landesman's article about sex slaves, which was featured as the cover story in the 24 January 2004 issue of New York Times Magazine.[citation needed]
  • The Whistleblower is a 2010 thriller film directed by Larysa Kondracki, written by Kondracki and Eilis Kirwan, and starring Rachel Weisz.[13] The film portrays proven and recorded real life events which occurred in Bosnia and Herzigovina to an American police officer(Kathryn Bolkovac) from Nebraska(USA) while working as a United Nations Peacekeeper contracted by Democra Corp., a pseudonym for a present American military contracting company DynCorp,[14] which was then made into a movie. Dyncorp has also been accused of rapes, murders and underage child sex trafficking in Latin America and countries like Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Kuwait and the Ukraine.[citation needed]

Literature and publications[edit]

(Alphabetical by author's last name)

Music videos[edit]


(Alphabetical by series)

  • Sony TV's Indian series Crime Patrol, based on true events, has covered this topic.[citation needed]
  • Criminal Minds episode 6.24, "Supply and Demand", addresses a human trafficking ring that abducts stressed-out college students.
  • The CSI: NY episode, "She's Not There", showcases the horrors of human trafficking when a Russian tourist is murdered and a girl went missing.
  • Everyone wants to be with Marilyn, is a prime-time soap opera produced by RCN Televisión, in a partnership with UNODC Colombia, which informs millions of viewers about human-trafficking within the context of sexual exploitation. The final part of the show follows the story of a young woman who travels abroad thinking she will become a model, only to end up working against her will as a prostitute. Marilyn, in the meantime, sets up an NGO that assists victims of trafficking and offers support to women wishing to abandon the world of prostitution. The soap opera's main male character plays a UNODC staff member who is working on a national campaign that is part of its Anti-Human Trafficking Project.[19]
  • Graceland (TV Show) season 2, anti-human trafficking and anti-sex trafficking groups.
  • The TV miniseries Human Trafficking (2005) by Christian Duguay stars Mira Sorvino, Donald Sutherland, and Robert Carlyle and tells the stories of a 16-year-old girl from Ukraine, a single mother from Russia, an orphaned 17-year-old girl from Romania, and a 12-year-old American tourist who become the victims of international sex slave traffickers. Sorvino and Sutherland are the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents who struggle to save them.
  • Inhuman Traffic (2005) is one of numerous MTV EXIT (End Exploitation and Trafficking) documentary specials that addresses human trafficking.
  • The European series Matroesjka's deals with girls from ex-Soviet countries, who have been deceived into sex slavery in Belgium.
  • A character from the anime television series Symphogear (2012), Chris Yukine, was abducted by a gang in South America after the deaths of her parents in a civil war. She was forced into sex trafficking at the age of seven. Chris was freed six years later by the UN's intervention in Val Verde and subsequently transferred to Japan, only to be kidnapped again by main villain Finé upon her arrival. Finé further abuses Chris emotionally and sexually, and Chris shows symptoms of Stockholm syndrome towards Finé.
  • in the Canadian/UK TV drama Sex Traffic (2004).
  • Human trafficking (women trafficking) is portrayed in the Brazilian soap opera Salve Jorge (2012).
  • The second season of crime drama The Wire (2003) revolves around the discovery of thirteen dead women in a shipping container in Baltimore port, and the subsequent investigation.


  1. ^ Schmader, David (4 June 2014). Chong Kim, the Woman Whose Allegedly True Story Served as the Basis for Megan Griffith's Film Eden, Denounced as a Fraud. The Stranger.
  2. ^ Vasilyeu, Dzmitry A. (23 July 2011). "Dimanasus Prophecy". Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Holly, (archived from the original on 2007-10-21).
  4. ^ The Jammed on IMDb
  5. ^ Dan Preston (28 June 2012). "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls". Godculture Magazine. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  6. ^ Jamie Rake (28 October 2011). "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls". The Phantom Tollbooth. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Caitie Daw (2 March 2009). "Director speaks on human rights". The GW Hatchet. Retrieved 1 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Timothy Malcolm (29 September 2009). "Actress Liu hopes 'Redlight' raises awareness of sex trafficking". Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 15 September 2013. 
  9. ^ "Film spotlights human trafficking as Trump promises action". AP News. Retrieved 2017-06-08. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "せどりのリストはこう作る!". Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  12. ^ Taken on IMDb
  13. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (20 August 2009). "Trio join Weisz for indie 'Whistleblower'". Variety. Retrieved 2009-11-29. 
  14. ^ Kathryn Bolkovac
  15. ^ Mark Weber (9 December 2009). "Local author unveils adventurous and original tale". Red Deer Express. 
  16. ^ Mark Weber (14 July 2010). "Author explores plight of Malaysian refugees". Red Deer Express. 
  17. ^ River of Innocents. Written Leaves. 13 May 2008. ISBN 978-0-9801990-0-0. 
  18. ^ "Soul Asylum - Runaway Train Let's stop Human Trafficking". Retrieved 28 June 2016. 
  19. ^ UNODC (2005). "Colombian soap opera raises awareness about human trafficking".