Emma Thompson, an outspoken advocate for women and children’s rights is focusing on the international human trafficking crisis.
As part of her campaign to end the practice of selling women and children into sexual slavery, Thompson executive produced Sold, a heartbreaking but ultimately hopeful feature film.
It is based on the true story of Lakshmi (Niyar Saikia) a rural Nepalese girl sold by her parents to an Indian woman. They believe she will find a better life in Kolkata, India.
She is to be given free transportation and given a good job in a “great house”. Instead she is locked in a brothel where she was continually raped, drugged, beaten, starved and held prisoner.
There are many girls like her there, unable to leave with nowhere to go, some choosing servitude over life on the streets, adult women who spent most of their lives there, and women with their children, all governed by a sadistic madam and her thugs.
According to the film thousands of women and children are sold into slavery each year. There are thought to be 20 to 30 million slaves now, used for sex and labor.
The average age of a slave is 13 and her selling price is about $90. It’s a longstanding international disaster and a difficult problem to solve. It is run by organised crime in 155 countries and earns major money for traffickers and related businesses.
Gillian Anderson plays a photographer who captures images of Lakshmi calling for help from her window. She shows them to aid workers including an American (David Arquette) who warn her against returning to the neighbourhood as she could be killed for taking pictures.
But she’s haunted by the girl and determines to take charge and alerts the police. The aid workers warn her that police will turn a blind eye, but fearing exposure, they put together a rescue plan. It’s a disaster and alerts the gangs that they’re being watched.
Thompson says “It’s very rare that a piece of art or story telling could really help to change things, but SOLD is one of those films. It’s a beautiful piece of work and it tells the unseen story of millions and millions of children.”
“Because of SOLD’s marvelous script and courageous and brilliant cast, it is a story that we can all watch – so that we may understand the processes of slavery and feel able to act without feeling the kind of rage and hopelessness that gets in the way of doing anything.”
The award winning film has toured the festival circuit and opens in the US April 1.