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Film reveals sex slave trade

Jason Bray and Mike Crowhurst made a documentary exposing South-East Asia’s child sex industry.
Jason Bray and Mike Crowhurst made a documentary exposing South-East Asia’s child sex industry.

COAST filmmakers Jason Bray and Mike Crowhurst admit they had no idea what they were getting into when they set out to make a documentary exposing South-East Asia's child sex industry.

Sneaking hidden cameras into derelict clubs in the Philippines was dangerous enough, without the risk of running foul of the Russian mafia who run the trade in child prostitutes.

The men are founders of independent film company Red Tree Earth and the result of their risks is a gut-wrenching documentary, Street Dreams, which lifts the lid on the plight of children in the sex slave industry.

The pair, who have previously done a film about chroming (paint-sniffing) addiction, are committed to giving a voice to people who don't have one.

It was during a business trip to the Philippines that Mr Bray came across a young girl working as a prostitute and realised he had the basis for a great story. But, Mr Crowhurst admits, they were totally unaware of what the project had in store for them.

"This was the first time we had done anything like this," he said.

"We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

"Some of the trafficking groups are run by the Russian mafia and people have received death threats before for taking (rescuing) too many girls."

Mr Crowhurst said there was an element of fear as they carried hidden cameras while they were portraying themselves as sex tourists.

"There's heavy corruption through the police and the government. We didn't want to step the wrong way and get noticed."

And while the documentary is proving to be an eye opener for audiences around Australia, Mr Crowhurst said his perceptions would never be the same.

"You know a little bit about it, but until you actually go and see someone live in squalor and people that have been chained to their bed for years as a pleasure machine for men; you have no idea how bad it is," he said.

"It was absolutely confronting what we found.

"We wanted to put everything on screen but we didn't want to repulse people.

"The things that don't make it on screen are horrific and humans shouldn't have to be put through it.

"It really hits the heart."

The main subject of the documentary is Destiny Rescue, a Sunshine Coast group fighting to rescue people from the sex slave industry.

Founded in 2001, it operates in Cambodia, Mozambique, Thailand and India, rescuing sex slaves and helping them recover and rebuild their lives.

Destiny Rescue business development manager Michael Keeffe said the main purpose of the documentary was to raise awareness of the problem.

"UNICEF figures show that 1.2 million children are being sold into slavery every year," he said.

"That equals one child every 26 seconds.

"This isn't just an Asian problem - it's worldwide.

"It's also an Australian problem in the sense that Aussie men are the biggest users in South-East Asia."

Mr Keeffe said the film was already inspiring people to become involved.

"People are confronted and shocked by the size and scope of this problem," he said.

"In the film, the youngest girl rescued is five years old.

"People want to engage with us after seeing the film and find out what they can do to help."

While Destiny Rescue makes about 25 rescues a month and has 1300 people in its care, Mr Keeffe said it was not enough.

"What we've done so far is great, but it's a drop in the ocean compared to the problem we are faced with."

For more information about Destiny Rescue or how to get involved go to destinyrescue.org or call 1300 738 761.

Topics:  sex slavery, south east


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