Ten years ago we released Nefarious: Merchant of Souls, a documentary that takes viewers behind the veil of the global sex industry. Over the last decade, this award-winning film has helped pave the way for some massive wins in the fight against trafficking. We’ve heard stories of sex buyers who stopped buying sex after watching the film, law enforcement who’ve used it to train their teams, vulnerable girls who’ve been educated by it, and people who’ve started their own anti-trafficking organizations after being inspired by the film. Even lawmakers from other countries have told us Nefarious was instrumental in helping them pass laws to fight sex trafficking.
Today, we want to celebrate how Nefarious has helped to strengthen the incredible work of AIM—Agape International Missions. This organization rescues and assists trafficked young girls in Cambodia, and their work features prominently in the film. Thanks in part to some of the millions of film viewers around the world who learned of AIM’s work, their impact has grown exponentially and they even launched their own SWAT team that has already rescued over 1500 trafficked individuals.
The post below was written by AIM and tells just one of their inspiring stories, among many, of a life transformed by their faithful work.
There are hundreds of stories that could illustrate the impact and transformation that has occurred as a result of Nefarious. This documentary shed light on the enormity of the issue of human trafficking and pointed people to action. The growth we have experienced at AIM in the past 10 years has been due, in large part, to this film. This is a testament of how awareness about this issue has led to action. We want to share a story with you that is an example of what has happened in the lives of trafficking survivors because of this growth.
Sophia* was sold to an American pedophile at the age of 12. After being rescued and sent to a transitional facility, she moved into AIM’s Restoration Home (ARH). In her words, “There was comfort staying there and the promise of a good education was fulfilled; however, more importantly, I felt loved.” Through her time at ARH, Sophia felt the unconditional love of Christ radiating through the staff. She was comforted and counseled from sadness and trauma, and empowered to live a life of freedom. ARH staff and the other girls there became her family.
Soon, Sophia started to feel she was ready to continue her life outside of ARH and return back to her family’s home. Against the suggestion of social workers and staff, she moved home with her mother and aunt. Shortly after, she was sold by her mother and aunt to a brothel in Cambodia where she lived for over a year. Through a series of horrendous events, she bravely escaped her traffickers and returned home where she was sold, once again, to foreign men who would take her for a few nights at a time. She was hurt and dejected. However, one night, she found a phone and called her social worker from ARH. She was soon rescued and taken back to the safety and care of ARH.
She was sold by her mother and aunt to a brothel in Cambodia where she lived for over a year.
Sophia was nervous about what the other girls and staff at ARH would think. Those fears melted away when she was welcomed back with love and acceptance at her Princess Ceremony—a celebration for survivors to emphasize their value and worth as Daughters of God. This stay at ARH was similar to before; Sophia describes it as getting her life back. She continued her education, vocational training, and counseling while being cared for and loved by the ARH community.
When the time came, she and a few of the other girls from ARH moved into an apartment and began work with their newly learned skills. Though Sophia was out of ARH, her social worker continued to follow up and assist her through tough times. When she felt unsafe after a bad breakup, her social worker helped her relocate to a safe area. When family troubles arose, she knew she could turn to her social worker for help and support. Because of this support and empowerment, Sophia was never exploited again. In fact, after starting a job at AIM’s Employment Center, she met her loving husband. In 2014, when AIM formed a SWAT Team, she was recruited to join the team.
After she started working with the SWAT team, Sophia joined the aftercare team. In this role, she was the first point of contact for many of the girls we rescue. When they were scared and confused, she was there to walk with them.
Sophia’s experience put her in the unique position to relate to these girls and comfort them in a way that no one else could.
Sophia’s experience put her in the unique position to relate to these girls and comfort them in a way that no one else could. Since then, she has transitioned to a role as an investigator, where she can use her knowledge and experience to track down traffickers and shut down brothels!
Now, Sophia and her beautiful family are thriving. She has put her faith fully in Jesus. Her work on AIM’s SWAT Team brings many girls to freedom and into new life. Her life is a testament to the transformative power of Christ and the empowerment that is possible with freedom.
*Pseudonym used to protect the identity of the survivor.