Canadian film puts the spotlight on the issue of human trafficking
After the Ontario government [in 2013] began considering legalizing prostitution, filmmakers Jared and Michelle Brock felt they needed to create a film exploring the ramifications of making the business of selling sex legal. The result was, Red Light Green Light.
The film was co-directed and produced by the husband and wife team, who are also co-founders of Hope for the Sold, a movement dedicated to fighting sex trafficking “one word at a time.”
Together they’ve travelled to nearly 30 countries and witnessed firsthand the effects of sex trafficking.
“We’ve been raising awareness about sex trafficking for about seven years now, and everyone agrees that it should be stopped,” Jared says. ”But a lot of people started asking us “if we want to stop sex trafficking, why don’t we just legalize prostitution?”
Now that the Supreme Court of Canada is considering the legalization of prostitution, Brock explained the timing for the film and sharing the gritty truth they found is crucial.
“We found that legalization isn’t the best option, not by a long shot,” Brock says.
The filmmakers interviewed formerly prostituted women and sex-trafficked survivors, members of the Amsterdam Police Human Trafficking and Prostitution unit, psychologists and researchers, professors, activists and mothers, seeking to answer the question, how can we prevent sex trafficking before it happens?
“People get to decide in the end what the best way to approach the legalization of prostitution,” the film’s editor and associate producer Dave McSporran explains, adding the issue is a murky epidemic about which many are misinformed, even in Canada.
“They believe the girls on the corners want to be there, that they’re making big money,” McSporran says. “But they’ve never seen how it really is; we’ve been sheltered from these things… we need to be re-taught.”
He says prostitution is a real issue in Canada, noting aboriginals are often targeted as easy prey, with many girls made to believe they have to pay back an enormous debt to their pimp.
“Those girls don’t get that money; you’re not helping them,” McSporran says. “Those girls don’t want to be there.” Yet many continue to have a dim view of prostitution, with buying sex painted as a strip club, just a place to hang out with the guys to unwind.
McSporran hopes to screen the film across the country in homes, churches and community centres to educate a new generation that sees the sex industry for what it really is.
“And to realize that the girl doesn’t want to be there,” says McSporran.
The film’s release is timely as the Ontario government is expected to make a decision in spring on whether it will legalize prostitution.
“Let’s get this out to as many Canadians as possible and protect our home for the future,” McSporran says.
For that to happen Brock believes it’s time that men join the conversation and make a difference in the fight for prostituted women.
“It’s really easy to settle into the routine of work, eat, sleep, repeat,” says Brock. “For men especially, who feel the weight of responsibility for caring for their families, it’s hard to imagine taking on gargantuan proportions of an issue like sex trafficking.”
“I remember something that Stephen Arterburn said a few years ago at Promise Keepers: ‘Do the next right thing.’ It’s so easy to be overwhelmed by the problems of this world, but we forget that God has already overcome those problems, and that our job is to be faithful with each and every step.”
One of the biggest challenges for men trying to understand the problem of sex trafficking is that men are the problem.
“We are the ones who are paying for porn, going to strip clubs, visiting massage parlours,” says Brock. ”We’re the demand that keeps traffickers in business. We need to start having honest conversations about porn and lust and trafficking, because if men find freedom on this issue, it will lead to freedom for the women.”
McSporran says only when the demand dries up can real change begin to happen, adding its time men stop supporting the industry, stop buying sex, stop looking at porn and get help from someone they trust to begin to rebuild that part of their lives.
But if prostitution is legalized in Canada, Brock says studies show a major increase in the demand for paid sex will follow. Without enough willing sex workers, pimps and traffickers create supply by luring girls into the trade, putting more women at risk.
So how can men begin to fight for a better world where sex is no longer a commodity? For Brock it begins with men teaching their sons a woman is not something you can buy.
“My dad made a point of getting out of his comfort zone to talk to me about girls, sex, relationships, and God,” says Brock. ”I’m so grateful that he helped me navigate through issues even as embarrassing as puberty. It was probably even more awkward for him than me, but he was willing to pay the price, again and again, to make sure I knew the truth about women, intimate relationships, and real intimacy. Boys need strong spiritual mentors, men that they can look up to.”
“I guess I’d tell men to act like Jesus, at any cost,” says Brock.
Another simple act like receiving a purity ring from his father along with a prayer and a commission to be a godly man had an enormous effect on his life, says Brock, part of what brought him to where he is today, championing the fight against trafficking through film.
However, getting this passion project finished on a shoestring budget was fraught with challenges.
“We’re reluctant filmmakers, so it would have been nice to take a sound guy and director of photography on the road, but we simply didn’t have the budget for it,” says Brock. “If success is doing the best you can with what you have, then this film was a success.”
And the Brocks were willing to make sacrifices to capture the story on screen.
They shot in Europe for over 100 days without staying in a hotel even once. The couple does not have a cell phone and they make a point of only buying used clothes.
“This was a conscious decision,” says Brock. “We wanted to increase our margin of time and money so we could devote it to God’s calling.”
God’s providence was evident during the shoot.
“The global Church is amazing, and we were welcomed with open arms in every country that we visited,” says Brock. ”This saved a lot of money, obviously, but we also got to meet some truly amazing people.”
With God’s help the film is finished, and Brock says all that is left is bringing as many people out to watch it as possible.
“Making the film was the tip of the iceberg,” says Brock. “Now we need to get every single voting-age Canadian to see it as soon as possible.”
It’s a giant task, but the film may make the difference in changing Canada’s laws to better reflect the truth about trafficking, that most women are victims, and the men who purchase sex are the reason it exists.
With God’s help, men will begin to take a stand in their own homes and their own hearts.
Visit redlightgreenlightfilm.com to host a screening, spread the word or find a list of anti-trafficking organizations to support. You can also sign a petition, donate to help bring the film to more locations or find forms to contact your local government representative and encourage them to protect vulnerable women and children and make Canada a world leader in the fight against human trafficking.