However badly you may believe the victims of trafficking suffer, the reality is worse than what you can imagine, the director of the documentary, “Stopping Traffic” said.
Sadhvi Siddhali Shree is a Jain monk and U.S. Army veteran whose film “Stopping Traffic” was awarded the Best Picture prize at the Global Cinema Film Festival in Boston in March. The film is making its Fort Worth debut Sunday at the Fort Worth Indie Film Showcase.
For Shree, the movie is about kick-starting the movement to end human trafficking, to engender conversation, and raise community awareness that will pressure public officials to do more legislatively.
“We need to end demand,” Shree said. “Once we can end the culture, once we can stop saying boys will be boys, we can come up with creative ideas that can stop this type of thing from happening. If we can educate the youth, then we can end this perpetual cycle.”
Shree, who is spiritual director at the Siddhayatan Spiritual Retreat Center and Ashram in Windom about 100 miles northeast of Fort Worth, said the film is also a natural outgrowth of her spiritual journey. Shree said her focus as a Jain monk is nonviolence, and freeing children from slavery is a logical progression of that nonviolent stance.
Shree said she is looking forward to working with Fort Worth city leaders to help raise awareness and end the practice of slavery. The film is worldwide in scope, and its trailer may be disturbing for some viewers.
“In the DFW area, about 400 children are trafficked every day,” Shree said. “These children are raped 30 to 40 times a day. You want to bring them into freedom.”
John King, an activist living in Grapevine who is featured in the film, compares the current efforts to stem the tide of human trafficking to trying to contain a tsunami inside a thimble.
“All of our statistics are out of date,” King said. “You don’t understand. It’s not like when we were growing up. We can’t keep up. I walk outside of my house and there are 13-year-olds on their bikes watching pornography on their phones. It’s not ‘Leave It to Beaver’ anymore.”
King, 53, said when he was that age, his parents were selling him to their friends for sex. But things are much worse, more widespread now, King said. Even so, King said he hopes the tide can be turned and hopes that this new documentary exposing the darkness of sex trafficking will help raise awareness.
Children have grown up watching others grow rich by being sexually exploited and sexually exploitative, and they believe that they can do the same thing, King said.
“You can offer them $300 and have a line of girls and boys hop on a plane and they never return,” King said. “Offer $700 and the line gets longer. When I was a kid you had to pick up a Hustler from a drunk at a gas station. Now your kid can watch bestiality on his phone for free. It’s all become so blase. And unless we start connecting the dots for people they will never wake up.”
If You Go:
“Stopping Traffic” will be shown at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Norris Conference Center, 304 Houston St. in Fort Worth