A coalition of men who are taking a stand against all forms of commercial sex launched a contest Friday to encourage people across the nation to speak out against pornography, prostitution, and other forms of commercialized sex.
"We are launching The Film Festival to END DEMAND on July 4 because, what better day than Independence Day to not only celebrate our freedom but to take action for those who are not free?" reported Bill Smith, director of The Defenders USA, in a released statement prior to the contest's launch.
The Defenders believe that pornography, prostitution, escort services, strip clubs, peep shows, and erotic massage parlors all contribute to the commercial sex industry, a market that produces nearly 100,000-300,000 exploited victims a year – the majority of which are women and children.
"Women and children are enslaved all over the world to serve a demand for commercial sex – this has to stop," Smith stated.
And with the growing demand for commercialized sex, some feel the problems will grow as well.
"As long as there is a demand that fuels this market, there will be a supply," Karrie Delaney, director of communications for Shared Hope International, told Baptist Press earlier this year. The Defenders USA is an initiative of Shared Hope International.
"Across the United States, there is a culture of tolerance in the media really sexualizing children and making sex scenes the norm. Men often feel very entitled to buy sex," Delaney added.
The sale of child pornography alone is a $3 billion annual industry in the United States.
The hope behind the Film Festival to END DEMAND is that it will fight the demand for commercial sex by spreading awareness in a creative way.
Participants have been instructed to create a film three minutes or less, which they should upload on a free online video sharing service such as YouTube, iTunes, MySpace Video, Yahoo! Video, or Google Video.
Whether the video is an anecdotal narrative, advertisement, or dramatic representation, each entry should focus on ending the demand for the destructive sex markets by speaking out against pornography, prostitution, or any form of the commercialized sex.
Participants have until Sept. 5 to submit their entry at an Internet link, and each film will be judged on the impact of the message, not the professional level of the film – though applicants will still be judged for artistic quality. The winning video will be featured at a Shared Hope International event in Washington, D.C., this fall.
"We wish you the very best in this contest and extend heartfelt thanks for your dedication to ending demand for the commercial sex market!" organizers expressed to potential applicants in their website.
On the Web: More information at thedefendersusa.org