- (Photo: Facebook/Bayside Church)
A documentary film featuring actress Mira Sorvino's fight against sex slavery in Cambodia made its US debut at Bayside Church in the Sacramento, Calif. area recently, highlighting the work of several Christian organizations combating the issue.
The film, "Freedom Project: Every day in Cambodia," was produced in partnership with CNN International during a 2013 trip to expose child sex trafficking and virgin sales, the center of Sorvino's activism for years.
"Child sex trafficking is still thriving in Cambodia, that's just a fact," said Mira Sorvino, in a short clip of the film. "They are deflowered in the most humiliating and violent ways."
Because of widespread poverty and little in the way of enforcement, Cambodia has become the epicenter for child trafficking in Southeast Asia. Girls as young as four years old are sold into slavery and the sex trade by their own parents who find themselves in dire financial need.
To raise awareness within the evangelical community, Sorvino premiered the film at Bayside since the congregation is also passionate about making efforts to fight against the increasing problem among young Cambodian girls.
The film also features Bayside's partnering organizations, both Agape International Missions (AIM) and 3Strands, two Northern California nonprofits that focus on providing job opportunities for rescued girls and women.
"Bayside believes strongly in being doers of the word and has been deeply involved in finding solutions to this issue since 2007," Mark Miller, spokesman for Bayside, told The Christian Post. "It was natural for us to host these screenings, and bring involvement to this cause."
Much like Sorvino, who emphasizes that her purpose is not only to raise awareness but implement viable solutions, the church has done their part to help including donating $400,000 to raid brothels in Cambodia to rescue victims.
Miller says Bayside also helps fund safe houses, in addition to sending teams of people to staff and help rescue girls.
Don Brewster, founder and executive director of AIM, accompanied Sorvino on her trip and said that implementing solutions little-by-little is an indication of success and can be a catalyst for more girls to come forward. He also pointed out the abhorrent experiences that child sex slaves endure.
"At four o'clock in the afternoon, they [sex trafficked victims] go to the nicest hotels and take orders from pedophiles looking for a virgin sale," said Brewster. "Money can buy, in this case, injustice."
Although prostitution is illegal in the region, approximately 30 to 35 percent of the country's sex workers are underage, according to UNICEF. Furthermore, in areas such as Svan Pak, a village widely known as a hub for minors, brothels specialize in selling prepubescent girls.
During the trip, Sorvino made her way through similar remote villages and reached out to a few of these underage girls. In one of the film's scenes, she pleads with an official to take more action against trafficking and in another, the actress appears teary-eyed as she tells local men, "It's not okay to sell children to pedophiles, it's not okay."
During Sorvino's visit to Bayside she shared more about her experience on and off camera.
Sorvino expressed her gratitude for the work Bayside and others are doing at the church, Miller shared. "She also encouraged the thousands in attendance to get more involved and continue to help fight sex trafficking," he said.
Although the church plays an active stateside and in-land role in fighting sex slavery, the film stirred an outpouring of support and willingness to get involved however, Miller says, there was also an element of shock for many.
"What is being depicted in this documentary is shocking, so it is understandable that some were disturbed by what they saw. However, it is important to generate awareness and get people involved," said Miller.