Women Undercover | BBC World Service

Mimi Chakarova: Love, Art and Anger
| The Kitchen Sisters Present

The awesome fearlessness of female undercover reporters
| The New York Times Online

Going Undercover 
| Al Jazeera English

Undercover to Expose Sex Traffickers 
| BBC World's Outlook

"The Price of Sex" on Turkish TV
| CNN Turk

Correspondent Confidential
| VICE United States

UN.GIFT catches up with filmmaker Mimi Chakarova
| United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

A Human Life: Priceless No More
| The Ukrainian Week

Review | Global Policy Journal

WOMAN OF THE WEEK: MIMI CHAKAROVA | The Women in the World Foundation

Mimi Chakarova on CNN | Connect The World

Undercover Filmmaker | CNN Freedom Project

Mimi Chakarova on BBC World 

"Slavery 2012" Podcast | The Commonwealth Club of California

Interview with Mimi Chakarova | United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking

Embassy of the United States of America | Ottawa

My Defining Moment: Mimi Chakarova | CBC

Video Interview with Mimi Chakarova | Reeling the Reel

Interview with Mimi Chakarova | Channel Guide Magazine

Skin Trade Exposed |

"The Price of Sex" Podcast | Human Rights Watch

"The Price of Sex" | Telegraph21

"The Price of Sex" Is a Work of Art Huffington Post 

The Price of Sex on CNN  

The Price of Sex (Web Exclusive) | Cineaste Magazine

Daniel Pearl Awards Winners Announced | iWatch News

Interview with Mimi Chakarova | Pop Culture Classics

Ten Years Underground: A Photojournalist’s Quest to Expose the Sex Trade | Her Circle e-zine

The Price of Sex: An Investigation of Sex Trafficking | USAID Impact Blog by Mimi Chakarova

The Price of Sex Variety 

Review of 'The Price of Sex' (Bulgarian) Kultura

FILM: So Much More Than Just 'Trafficked Women'

Women in Hollywood indieWIRE

Human Trafficking, The Terrible "Price of Sex" NPR Talk of the Nation (Radio)

Review: Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2011 Film-Forward

Arts Express: Eco-Terrorists, Sex Slaves, And What's Up At The HRW Festival News Blaze (Radio)

Preview of the festival highlighting THE PRICE OF SEX (Russian) Reporter RU

Preview of the festival highlighting THE PRICE OF SEX (Russian)

The Human Rights Watch Film Festival Digs Deep, Asks the Hard Questions HuffPost

Almost Me Snap Judgment (Radio)

Exposing the Sex Traffickers The Crime Report

Journalist-Activist Chakarova Exposes ‘Price of Sex’ SF360

Women Make Movies Nabs Two Human Rights Films indieWIRE

An Interview with Mimi Chakarova Captive Daughters


The U.N. General Assembly signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, yet we continue to witness the sale of human beings and the degradation of women's bodies and minds. THE PRICE of SEX gives you a sense of what trafficking does to women.

Your reactions to the film have been an important step to encourage dialogue and provide a forum for ideas and solutions. We've posted some of them below:


Hello... After discovering this website today, i have spent almost 4 hours watching and reading every post there is and it sickens me to death how these "pimps" and sex traffickers are doing to these poor young innocent women. I also want you to know that here in my country of residence (BAHRAIN), there are so many similar stories to the ones i have read on your website. Girls and woman here are being harassed and embarrassed on a daily basis and in large quantities. Just like the article you have about DUBAI, i think it might even be worse in BAHRAIN. there are so many brothels or whatever they are called and sex houses, it is a shame to see and know that this is happeneing to women here, and it hurts me so much that i cannot do anything on my own to stop this. I kindly ask of you to direct me or tell me what to do on starting to raise awareness in BAHRAIN about sex trafficking, abuse, and just humiliation of these woman who are from over 30 nationalities. Please inform me on how i can get your video the one you are screening to raise awareness, in order for me to do the same here on this small island of Bahrain where woman are being terrorized and harassed, mostly by men from SAUDI ARABIA, who cross the "King fahad causeway" connecting saudi arabia to bahrain, so they can come drink alcohol (where it is banned in their country, as well as see woman drink/drive/dress in normal clothing as opposed to saudi where there are strict laws on covering up). I BEG for you to guide me on what to do to just try to stop or decrease this from happening where i live. It sickens me on a daily basis thinking of these women, and what they have to go through, especially knowing that they are not doing it by choice, but by FORCE by these low life and dirty so called pimps. Awaiting your reply/email.. Thanking you in advance.
Dear Ms. Almughrabi, Thank you for writing, for spending time on this site and for your willingness to help. The first thing I would urge you to do is find out if there are any shelters for women in Bahrain. Often those trafficked are detained and then deported back to their countries of origin, but in certain instances and depending on their location, the women also spend time at shelters where they can receive medical and psychological assistance. If there is such a place, get involved by offering your help. Another way is to look up NGOs in Bahrain that work on issues of gender, migration and violence. They are often short on staff and supplies and can always benefit from more people who want to make a difference. But first and foremost, what's critical is to expose what is going on. If you have friends who are journalists and willing to investigate the sex trade in Bahrain, you can contribute by sharing what you know with them. I am sure that there are a number of clubs and hotels that are well known for the nature of "business" they conduct. If people don't know what is happening around them, they are living in darkness. I applaud you for your willingness to act on something that we absolutely should never tolerate. My best wishes, Mimi Chakarova
Law School Screening!
Hi Ms. Chakarova, I am a law student at a Canadian University, and I have recently completed some extensive research into human trafficking. I think it would be really amazing--and really interesting to the students at my law school--if they had the opportunity to watch your film! If there is a possibility of screening or simply getting a copy of the film for that purpose, please contact me by email! Thanks very much!
Re: Law School Screening!
Of course. I'll put you in touch with our distributor, Women Make Movies.
Jan 12 screening
I saw your film at Harold Washington Library in Chicago tonight and I want to thank you for sharing your work with us and coming out to Chicago (in such poor weather!) First, I was overwhelmed by the depth, detail and balance between emotion and objectivity in the film. What hit me the most were the interviews with the social and legal aid workers regarding the root causes of trafficking. I've read Sheper-Hughes work on organ trafficking, also in Moldova, also through Istanbul; and I've been following the exponential expansion surrogacy tourism in India and Eastern Europe; your film really put a face on part of that world. Regarding what to do, I think your comments on increasing job opportunities were dead-on. I think also creating agencies that facilitate screened, legitimate employment and raising awareness among sex workers and sex work clients about trafficking (as opposed to consensual prostitution) is important. The later point is especially important for can we raise awareness of trafficking and educate individuals willingly working in the industry or clients on how to spot instances of trafficking and help women who have been trafficked? I worked as an escort, in strip clubs, etc. in Germany, the U.S. and the U.K.; clients frequently talked about other women in the industry (in a positive, nostalgic, non-degrading way) with me. Some clients had done sex tourism in eastern Europe or have come into contact with Eastern European women. I am 99% positive that none of the men I've come into contact with working would ever want to buy sex from a woman coerced into prostitution. Some explicitly expressed concern over this. Others had ongoing email friendships with eastern European women in the sex trade. One client gave me 2000 euro to donate to TAMPEP. I've always worked on the nicer side of the industry, and so these clients are how I actually became aware and concerned about exploitation and trafficking. On the other hand, I have relatives in Athens who definitely go to at least strip clubs and have mentioned Eastern European woman; a friend who studied in Istanbul knew a bunch of students who liked russian prostitutes because they were attracted to blonde women and regularly went to the red light district. I don't think they have 'sex trafficking' in mind at all. So the subject matter of your film was especially poignant from a personal perspective. And it made me reflect and realize that there are huge national and class differences regarding awareness of and concern over trafficking and exploitation. And I think that needs to be addressed and it needs to be addressed by delineating between exploitative and voluntary prostitution, and by reaching out to clients, for example, on web forums. I know many people think the later does not exist...but it definitely does. Look at SAAFE (support and Advice for Escorts) Look at look at punternet or the erotic review or You'll find current or former college students, paralegals, nurses, MD residents, social workers, executive assistants involved in the industry. And there are also (I know them) poor women and foreign women who voluntarily enter the sex trade to improve their financial circumstances and fund credentialing. I know women who started off as au pairs and waitresses who ended up in the sex industry. So it's complicated, but I think that you really need to get men who buy sex on board. They're the individuals who have access to the industry, and thus the capacity to help (as was the case with the woman in Dubai...but why did it take 9 months? Why didn't this happen sooner?) And they're also the demand. Eliminate demand for trafficked women and create above-the-board migration opportunities, you eliminate trafficking. It's not a cost-problem. In Germany, it's a 20 euro difference between going to a legal above-the-board brothel and going to one filled with women who are in coercive situations. In the U.S., there is a 30, 40 dollar difference between seeing a nurse/social worker/college student working independently part-time for kicks/savings/spending money and going to an organized massage parlor full of migrants, (if any difference at all.) Thank you again for your work,
Re: Jan 12 screening
Thank you very much for sharing observations from your own experience and for agreeing to post your comment on the site. I also really appreciate you coming to the screening this week.
Law Enforcement
Mimi, Like anyone who hears about this subject, I am disturbed. I find this information heartbreaking and I do plan to help in some way. However, I would very much appreciate it if you could explain something to me. Whenever I hear about these terrible things I wonder why these traffickers aren't arrested by polices and thrown in jail? If investigative reporters can get inside these groups, can't the police do the same? Is it a matter of resources or priorities. I can't imagine any law enforcement in the U.S. allowing this to go on but I am aware that this has happened in the U.S. as well. Please forgive my ignorance. I just want to understand to I can better think about how I might be able to help.
Re: Law Enforcement
Dear Mr. Swanson, You ask a valid question. Indeed, law enforcement in the U.S. and throughout the world is making an effort to put traffickers behind bars but it takes a long time to build these cases and often the sentences don't reflect the crimes. Also, keep in mind that many countries face dire corruption in addition to poorly trained police units and agents who still don't take the trafficking of human beings as seriously as the trafficking of arms and drugs. And lastly, the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act was only passed in 2000. The Palermo Protocol (the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime is responsible for implementing it) entered into force in 2003. As you can see, we have a long way to go. The good news is that the U.S. State Department has requested to use "The Price of Sex" documentary film as a training tool in embassies throughout the world. Little by little, through credible information, dialogue and exposure in the media (like the CNN photo slideshow that you saw yesterday), we can raise the public's consciousness and put pressure on those capable of implementing change. Thank you for your comment and I hope I was able to answer your question.
Conflating human trafficking with all sex industry work
I attended the first screening of your documentary in Vancouver. I was very curious to see how you would present the very important issue of human trafficking. I had hoped that you would present this issue as an important global problem that all people can work towards preventing and eliminating, including sex industry workers who are potentially the most effective allies in the fight against human trafficking. On the other hand, my fear was that you would conflate human trafficking with ALL forms of sex industry work. Unfortunately, for many women in North America, and around the world, you did the latter. From the film and the discussion afterwards, it became clear that you believe that ALL sex work is violence against women. However, you did not interview women who engage in the sex industry with full consent and free of coercion. You decided instead to speak for those women and you referred to them as victims. Well, I am one of those women who has fully consented to engage in sex industry work as an exotic dancer for the past 11 years and I have never felt coerced to do anything against my will. Furthermore, I have worked in many countries and have worked with hundreds of women from around the world and I have never met a woman who was trafficked. I did meet many women who needed the money much more than I did, and this was reflected in their work ethic, however, many of these women were happy to be able to ply their trade in different parts of the world and make thousands while their family members back home made $60 a month working as a nurse, for example. While I am not denying that human trafficking exists and that it is a massive problem that we must all work toward eliminating, it is essential to present the issue of human trafficking as separate from other types of consensual sex industry work. There is much diversity of experience within the sex industry and by presenting ALL sex work as violence against women you are denying the agency and human rights of a whole group of women in an effort to save another group of women. Because the issue of human trafficking evokes a huge emotional response from everyone,governments are easily able to implement policies that hinder the ability of women to move across borders in an effort to make money in the sex industry. Additionally, it does nothing to remove the stigma or improve the working conditions of sex industry workers who choose to engage in sex industry work.
Re: Conflating human trafficking with all sex industry work
"The Price of Sex" is not a film about women who choose to work in the sex industry. Anyone who's watched the film can see that it's about slavery and young women who were deceived, broken and exploited to the fullest. I am glad you came to the screening in Vancouver. After the screening, the gentleman who posted two comments below, asked me what I thought about legalizing prostitution and what my personal opinion is on this issue. Again, if you look at countries like Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, etc etc, and ask yourself whether their legalization has reduced numbers of trafficked women, the answer is NO. And if you talk to men in these places and ask them why they don't go to the legal and regulated brothels, the answer is: "I can go to the red light district, find illegal women, much younger and from all over the world, and get them for cheaper. I also don't have to use condoms if I pay a little extra." My goal in making this film is to give trafficked women a platform to tell their stories and end the stigma and shame in the communities in which we were raised. I also wanted to expose the corruption that allows trafficking to continue. If you and your colleagues feel like your voice isn't heard, I encourage you to make a film that's about women who choose to work in the sex industry. This is not what "The Price of Sex" is about. You write that it's "essential to present the issue of human trafficking as separate from other types of consensual sex industry work." I don't think that anyone who sees "The Price of Sex" would ever argue that the women I've interviewed were part of the consensual sex industry. If they were, they would not have been jumping out of buildings, giving birth to children after months of being pimped out and gang raped or worrying about being HIV positive because the clients refused to use protection. This is all in the film. I encourage people to see it with their own eyes and determine whether it's about all sex industry work or about sex slavery and why it continues to exist.
Re: Conflating human trafficking with all sex industry work
Hello Mimi, thank you for your response. I am not saying that your film is about ALL sex industry work - it is obviously about women who are forced to perform sexual services against their will in extremely exploitative environments. This is evident and well-documented by you. However, after the screening of the film a male audience member asked how he could help to put an end to human trafficking. Your suggestion was that he, and everyone else in the audience, stop watching porn and stop visiting strip clubs. The problem is that many of the women who work in strip clubs and in porn are there because they choose to be there, myself included. And like I said previously, in 11 years as a sex worker who has worked in Canada, Japan, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, and the Carribean I have never met a trafficked woman. Next, I raised my hand and asked you if you considered willing sex workers to be contributing to the issue of human trafficking and you said that you don't think any women work in the industry consensually and that you have never met a women who does. This statement is also problematic because you are sending the message that all sex industry work is violence against women and this is not the case. Like I said previously, I have enjoyed my 11 years in the industry and have never felt violated or mistreated. And there are many more like me. You also made the comment that you would never want to work in the sex industry...well, there are probably many other jobs that you would not want to do but you don't condemn the people who perform them, do you? I applaud your efforts to provide a platform for these women to tell their stories - you have succeeded in this regard. All I ask is that you please be careful to tell only their stories and not speak for the women who you claim do not exist.
Re: Conflating human trafficking with all sex industry work
Anonymous dancer, The existence of female sex industry for the pleasure of men is a disgrace for women in itself. If mimi's documentary did touch up on ALL sex industry I would applaud her for the courage to speak up against male promiscuity. Male promiscuity is at the root of a lot of the problems society has to put up with. You having a good time in this odd job, doesn't in itself make male promiscuity acceptable. Against female sex industry for the pleasure of men
Re: Conflating human trafficking with all sex industry work
Thank you for this, Anonymous Dancer. I will keep in mind what you wrote and focus on what the film is about. I appreciate your input.
Sex trafficking vs. Sex Work: The Legalization Issue
Thank you for taking the time to document the important topic of human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking. I thought you very carefully and respectfully told these stories within the larger structural context of the dissolution of the Soviet Block. I was surprised to hear that you grouped together sex work (specifically the legalization of sex work) and sex trafficking. No one is arguing to legalize human trafficking, be it for sex or migrant labour etc. There has been some very important work done around the legalization of sex work so the women and men who are involved in it are not considered criminals and can have better access to health services. Vancouver especially has had immense success with harm reduction models for drug users with safe injection sites (e.g. decreased crime in the neighbourhood, increased access to rehab, decreased over-dose, and very importantly decreased rates of HIV infection), and this same model is applied to sex work. There are many sex work alliances with moto's along the lines of 'nothing about us, without us' or 'rights not rescue - only the rights will stop the wrongs'. Criminalizing sex work, in many ways criminalizes women and infringes on their human rights. Many thanks for your tireless efforts, I wish you all the best.
San Diego
Mimi, I live in SD and have been out of town for several weeks, I returned today and logged on and saw you were in town yesterday. I am so sorry I missed the screening, I had been looking forward to seeing your film. Hope that I will have another opportunity in the future. Take care. Michael
Re: San Diego
We have another screening tomorrow night, October 10th at 7 PM at the University of California, San Diego at the International House Great Hall. I hope you can make it. If not, I'll be back to San Diego in early 2012 for the Human Rights Watch Film Festival. Thank you for your interest in "The Price of Sex."
Hi Mimi, We met at the VIFF and shared the merits of two-wheeled sanctuaries. I have pondered the nature of Johns and Prostitutes. Your film seems to be a study of the more dramatic paths for some to that place. Still the only way I can reconcile the reality of prostitution and that it transpires is accepting the possibility that there is script and elements in play which make it so. My mum has a Chinese saying that "it's not easy being a person"... especially when things are tough. It allows her to be empathetic when she would not normally. She may have experienced directly the Japanese invasion in China and lost her mother during this incursion. She may herself have been accosted as she has demons that haunt her to this day. Being human. Time and experiences teaches us many things, for we are so naive in the ways of the world in our youthful perceptions. Mentioned that we need to unravel our illusions. Such that beauty and sex may hold power over men, and that men believe money and size invite greatness. All of it, a unfulfilling substitute for self-esteem. At some point in youth and into adulthood, some lose connection with their joy, beauty, and innocence. They unconsciously search for, but only reach outside of themselves to grasp it. What we represent to each other no matter what the interaction, is key to what torments us. Most of the desired prostitutes represent youth, innocence and vulnerability, and in this the men feel lack. Also suggest that men's bravado avoids the appearance of weakness and they delude themselves, using sex as a means to access comfort and nurturing. They are unconsciously looking for that experience to save themselves or make them feel cared for . and conversely, women offer love as the doorway to address their unresolved or repressed base desires. If the need is there, we need to curb the need and that is addressed by looking compassionately at the core of the problem. Some men are homely, isolated and without affection. Sometimes some skin, any warm skin is contact sorely needed. Society needs to affirm the nurturing abilities of men to show they are capable of giving that which they think they need. An uphill climb, but there are a few ok men out there. One can easily observe when a child has a very fragile center. Our society fosters the subordinate role of women and too often, women buy into this position. Women need empowerment which does not depend on their sexuality, appearance, or their subservience. The family is the crucible which can help forge the spirit of these young women into courageous adults. Stronger role models and healthier family environments. Would be imperative to eliminate the middle men and women who profit at the misery of others, by changing the conditions of the interactions for those who partake. Hard to say if Vegas is a good example of a safer environment for the women. Married couples do not escape this binding strangle hold either; when they marry out of security or convenience. We are multifaceted creatures and the intricate unconscious which guides our days takes us down many roads. Being human means we will endure experiences which will reveal many difficult understandings. Life is a complex arena with a lot of determining factors.
Re: script
I encouraged you to post this precisely because of what you wrote to me: "It is my function to illuminate the unpopular opinion." I think these are all important points to consider -- the way we define ourselves as women, as men... And you are right -- many men seek acceptance and comfort. But the majority use sex as power and when they pay for the young women you saw in the film (many were not even old enough to be considered women,) they took a lot more than what they paid for. It's violence in its most brutal and irreversible form. I've met too many girls who've lost their light, who are walking ghosts. And this is exactly why I think we need to go deeper. I agree with you. We need to change the core of our values as people. Not only in Canada, the U.S., or isolated parts of the world that encourage anonymous consumerism and indulgence of desires and wants with disregard to the value of another's life -- we need to seriously rethink our priorities worldwide. The first step, in my opinion, is to encourage an honest and multifaceted discourse. Thank you for contributing to that.
Re: script
I was in Cuba a couple of years ago. They are a somewhat desperate people. There is little work, save tourism, and the government frowns big time on prostitution. I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant and across from me was a middle-aged blonde lady feeding a young Cuban man. I thought to myself, how goes the fantasy Lady? The Cuban men flaunt themselves around the foreign women and the women titillated, welcome the attention. Apparently some crazy number like 50,000 wealthy ladies go to Jamaica and the likes to get their grove on. For sure, not the same but is this exploitation also, with moral implications? What common vein runs through people who want for sexual experiences? and are willing to pay for it.... The scope of people who partake in prostitution is far reaching, the brutality you have depicted is a considerable slice of the scene, but not the whole. Some days, i am tired and i accept, it is what it is. and i do what i can to be respectful, and honest with myself.
You did an amazing job. There are so many issues at play (from the large: the fall of communism, rise of globalization, governments which do not value this as a human rights issue because it involves women and sex. To the small: low level police corruption, and a seeming lack of safe places/houses for women in some countries). You were very honest in discussing the need for someone else to take this over (in response to the question of perhaps doing similar work in North America). What struck me when watching your film was how tired everyone working in prevention or in trying to help the women seemed. The police officer in Athens, the man in Moldova (with the IOM?) speaking of where the money goes, The women at the crisis line...Everybody seemed exhausted. I got the sense of a group of people who feel as though they are constantly running into a brick wall. It has to be done. Somebody had to do this. Thank you for taking so much of your time. For making sacrifices to give these women a voice and to, hopefully, bring this issue to the front of peoples minds. This is slavery. But if someone is looking for these women. If the people who do this know that someone is looking for these women (that someone cares) that is an important step in ending this.
Re: powerful
Thank you for posting this, Amanda. Yes, it's a terribly exhausting battle but one that can't be overlooked.
screening in Vancouver
Mimi, powerful film, powerful talk. I really appreciate that you've come out on the side of making prostitution illegal. Thank you for that. My reasons to support the prohibition of prostitution is that it is distinctly a capitalist model as was discussed in the film regarding Dubai. I think a significant root of this damaging and costly practice of slavery is money. The money doesn't tell us the truth. The money (and therefore power) is concentrated in the hands of the men - money seems to be a patriarchal tool. Capitalism and the fractional banking system breed slavery of all kinds. The emotional scares however of the sex slave practice are not tabulated in financial terms but in emotional and energy terms. What is the number of women missing from Turkey alone? Do we know the numbers of dead and/or missing? The cost of this practice is massive in terms of medical expenses and emotional trauma. In the film there was mention that there is money coming from somewhere to fight human trafficking. It seems to get distributed broadly vs. where the problem rests. Who is providing this money? The West in general, the EU, the G8 or G20 countries? What struck me as interesting is that there are many people in my circles who crave to live in harmony with nature in places like your home village. There is such a transition movement in North America that seeks to rekindle the ways of the village. I found it so ironic that the idyllic subsistence farming of Eastern Europe is so coveted by many, but it is exactly this problem that is no longer the allure for Eastern Europeans. I suppose your analogy to domesticated animals in the cage left to survive once the cage door is open is apt. Power and money go together, and it struck me as so unmanly to be seeking sex with prostitutes. Or rather, the police officers you spoke with struck me as rather pathetic. I know many Greek young men in North America grow up with prostitution as something quite normal; sometimes it's a right of passage. It's very unhealthy and not just physically - I think it is both emotionally and intellectually unhealthy. But how do we convince men that this is the case? Especially Mediterranean men whereby machismo is a standard meansure. We've got to retain hope, close the gap of material inequality, offer something to people beyond alcohol as a dulling mechanism to push away the pain. It will take a massive shift in human consciousness. I hope I can help you and the cause in some way. I hope you gain the support of lawyers and law enforcement officers in many places so as to bring awareness to this issue. I would say we'd have to examine money, power, and masculinity to understand how this can continue without proper challenge. I thought it was also important to note that police officers are getting paid in sex as a fringe benefit of their "profession". That leads me to say that in all cases law enforcement officers, while mercenaries of the state in many ways, should get paid a rate that makes their lives noble and incorruptible. Even in terms of financial numbers, the payoff would prove valuable. Many administrator and people in the top positions are unable to see this because they've acquired their positions by strategic power plays that distort any notion that they would know how to govern in a noble manner. They are unable to use money wisely because they are incapable of understanding sacrifice; after all, they got to where they are by ignoble practices. They cannot be expected to switch strategies once they get to a managerial or administrative position. One thing is certain. Advocacy for a gender balanced police force would be also important in many of these countries. I wonder how that would happen and if it can take place. Even in North America we’ve got a long way to go. Don't lose hope, keep up the work. Press forward. Life is a process of healing until death. Ask for help anytime. B.
Re: screening in Vancouver
Thank you for your intelligent response to our film and for your kind words of encouragement. Screening "The Price of Sex" in Vancouver this week has given me much food for thought, precisely because of smart and engaged questions like yours.
Re: screening in Vancouver
Mimi, I think I need your feedback. I've been discussing your film and getting considerable pressure in discussions regarding the stand I’ve taken because of your response after the screening in Vancouver. My response has been that prostitution should continue to be illegal in Canada. In your discussion in Vancouver you made it clear that legalization is a negative option. At the time, your passion and concise response to this issue was clear and I went away from the film thinking we should not legalize prostitution, or perhaps I was thinking to not criminalize prostitution. I'm having second thoughts now and I need some clarity. You suggested we ask three questions when exploring this issue. Can you provide those three questions again? I'm concerned because we place so much difference on economic protectionism for the West vs. the rest of the world. It is indeed because of our wealth. But some say that we would not have a Pickton case in Canada if prostitution had been legalized and I have to agree. I think I have to agree with Anonymous Dancer from Vancouver above in some way. If sex work practice takes place (pornography, dancing, escorts), it must be taxed in some way to provide a safety net for those putting themselves at risk in the industry, no? There's going to be health costs, even if the psychological issues prevail. Would it be impossible to legalize prostitution, monitor it, make it safe, etc.? For certain it should be decriminalized, but I also want to leave space for those who see it as a profession of choice. What advice can you provide? I also saw the film Inside Lara Roxx and I wonder what your position on that film is. Sorry, I simply need some better guidance at this moment because I can’t quite work out the details. For certain I feel it’s not a profession that we should encourage, but perhaps it offers a freedom to some. I haven’t quite wrapped my head around all of this yet. Still thinking.
Re: screening in Vancouver
Hello Brennan, I'm glad that you are questioning the legal regulations surrounding the sex industry in Canada - if you want to learn more about it I would suggest reading about the Bedford case in Ontario which recently challenged three sections of the criminal code relating to prostitution. Through criminalization, which is the current legal status of prostitution in Canada, the industry is pushed underground. In this situation, sex workers are not able to report to police johns who are violent or abusive for fear that they will be prosecuted for engaging in sex work. This is how people like Robert Pickton are able to kill dozens of sex workers and get away with it. This situation leaves a vulnerable population even more vulnerable because of the criminal laws. Also, johns are not going to report to the police a brothel, for example, that is exploiting underage youth because they could be prosecuted for purchasing sexual services. Criminalization is a harmful situation for all people involved in the sex industry - whether they are trafficked and exploited (like the women in Mimi's documentary) or willfully engaging in sex industry work. What is needed is for prostitution to be decriminalized so that sex industry workers can define their work environments and make complaints about poor working conditions. Criminalization does nothing but hide the injustices inflicted on sex industry workers who are already vulnerable due to the hidden nature of their work. New Zealand decriminalized prostitution in 2003 and have had much success in improving the rights of sex industry workers to complain about working conditions and to take violent clients to court.
Re: screening in Vancouver
AD, thank you for adding your voice to this and helping me clarify my own thoughts around this topic. I agree, we need to have people protected, and we must absolutely make certain that no one under a certain age needs to engage in prostitution for either money or by force. Which means perhaps other things: guaranteed income, guaranteed housing, guaranteed medical, and specific protections and rights for those under a certain age. I think in Canada it's 16 but for certain things regarding prostitution, this age should go up. Decriminalization for certain, but I don't know how this works. Violence against women of all kinds must be actively addressed by governments; it's preventable and governments need to be putting more resources into workshops, teaching, rights information, etc. I would have to say that a certain kind of machismo and male elitism / sexism still permeates Canadian culture and that, in my mind, clearly has to go. I also think we have to have a more serious conversation about the legalization and medical help available for drug addiction. Many women who take on prostitution do so because of addiction; this too needs to be decriminalized. Drug addiction captures some people who are very self-indulgent, but it's certainly better for safety nets to be there for people who need it. I don't know necessarily at this moment how we can ensure that we assist people medically without judgement while at the same time making certain the "legalization" or decriminalization of drugs doesn't propagate the problem. One more issue to think about.
Overcoming degrading lust in men
Mimi, after the screening you had noted how almost no men had said anything. Part of the reason may be that many men are ashamed and conflicted about the lustful desires they sometimes feel – there’s a fear of being ostracized, of being made to look inhuman. They may not know how to deal with these feelings. One thing that is lacking for many men is a female figure, even a fantasy, which helps them to strive to not degrade themselves, to meet the challenge of realizing the ideals they may have lost in the past, and to embrace a more personal and enlivening sexuality. Some men never find this figure, and I think it’s due to a belief in a narrow range of female personalities they get growing up, as well as lack of exposure to many different women (in their social lives and in the media). Gender roles are too rigidly defined in many places, and this puts pressure on many men to try live up to a certain masculine role while denying the needs of their unique personalities. When they find it hard to do either, the desolation can feed lust. Some things I’m hopeful about: there’s a book called Heavy Metal Islam, which documents emerging punk and metal in the Muslim world. These genres allow for a greater expression of more masculine women. My impression of the darker forms of metal is that they often shine a sort of communal light on the hidden lustful and violent sides people are prone to. In American Film and TV there’s also gradually been a greater range of gender expression.. The political and criminal aspect is important to focus on, but the cultural aspect – of how boys get raised in these countries – is also important. If there were some way that a greater degree of arts, literature and subcultures were introduced to kids in these countries as they were growing up, or journalism shined a light on such emerging cultural scenes, perhaps that might have an effect. Now I’ll summarize some of my own story, take what you will from it. I used to believe that women all had predominantly feminine traits – vulnerability, caring, attention to appearance, etc. – and that men needed to be strong, self-willed, and dominant if they wanted to be in the company of girls and be in a relationship with them. In school, I was socially isolated and awkward in conversation (still am). A feeling of desolation and of being fundamentally alien from those my own age, as well as confusion about girls - and with the use of weed – created an apathy and distance which led me to gradually indulge more and more violent and sickening lustful fantasies – in porn, in daydreams, in studying girls around me. But I felt remorse at times, and even though I felt that I had strayed so far that I could never be loved, I gradually tried to consider ways I might better relate to others, even if it meant hiding behind a mask. I participated in the activities of the “pick-up artist community” for awhile: various companies and an online culture which generally seem to have men try to mimic “high-status men” who can lead the “hottest” women into their beds every night (mostly at particular nightclubs) – through memorized scripts and such. This idea of gaining status through dominance and promiscuity feeds lustful desires and many men have gotten an impression of it and are tempted by it. The film Rodger Dodger portrays this well. I eventually left that community and read other communication books. I managed to discover a book on how to create transformative love affairs with your own and others’ unique personalities and needs while also exploring your darker side. This made me glad I had not lost my virginity. And volunteering at a theatre, I came across a hostile, guarded, teasing, sprightly girl – a woman much more masculine than I was used to – and one time when I was around her, in her threatening glance I felt like she saw through to what I found most ugly about myself, and with her energy embraced the lost, sensitive little boy I’d always tried to hide. She was inviting me to reclaim myself, to approach my vicious side in a different way. All this weight fell off of enjoyably talking to people around me. But then I found out she was with someone, and these attitudes left me. Thankfully I found some books which are helping me to understand myself and women like her: Jane Eyre – in which Mr. Rochester has lived a sickening and promiscuous life and finds redemption in his relationship with Jane – and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – which also deals with the damages of degrading lust in its many forms; the second of the trilogy actually touches on sex trafficking. Imagining that girl of before watching over me, as well as other girls I’ve met, has made it easier to stop watching porn and smoking weed. When I indulged in a degrading lust, I always found my body ugly – it is about making the victim ugly as well. But when I realized my boyish side could be pleasing to more masculine women, I could better understand feeling sexy in an uplifting way. The Rocky Horror Picture Show touches on this, and is part of reason I think we need to be careful about what in sexuality and entertainment we try to end. For example, I think Burlesque shows have more moral value than Strip Clubs. We should not tell women they can’t feel sexy, even voluptuous – it’s just important it’s done in an uplifting, intimate way. In censorship there is always the risk of hypocritical lust, as there is in some Muslim countries. Another sexual side I accessed would be best described as wolves fighting viciously together. I also think perhaps that sadism and masochism, dominance and submission need to be approached in particular way – as part of a love affair, rather than a purely sexual affair. The fear of death and losing control have a real hold on the human psyche - and I think it can be mind-expanding for some if they explore it with someone they love.
The root of the problem
The problem of human trafficking and sex slavery will end only when men stop thinking their genitals are more important than a woman's right to live with dignity and respect. Why do men buy prostitutes? Why do men buy children? Because they don't CARE about women and children. They care about their own selfish, depraved desires. Most men do not deserve to be called human.
I've been reading about this incredible film. Will it be shown in the Flagstaff, AZ area? Do you plan on eventually having it available for sale to individuals? Thank you.
Re: Screenings
Thank you. Yes, we will be screening THE PRICE OF SEX in Arizona. More about dates very soon. And the film is also available for sale through Women Make Movies. Click on the "Buy DVD" button below and find out more about their home use/individual pricing. Wishing you all the best, Mimi Chakarova
Re: Screenings
on the women make movies site (, i can not find an option for home/individual pricing for "the price of sex", only options for universities, colleges & institutions or for k-12, public libraries & select groups. that said, is there any possibility for a screening in nashville, TN in the future? thank you.
Re: Screenings
Click on "pricing&policies": Home Video Versions. And we don't have anything scheduled in Nashville right now but that could always change. I'll keep you posted.
About "The price of sex"
I'm very thanksful to Mimi for her attempt to raise a question about human traffic. We are loosing the generation of young people thanks to failure to act governments and world society in whole. Now it's a time to voice up. I would like to see all movie. Dear Mimi, where can I see that? Thank you.
Re: About "The price of sex"
Please check the screening schedule. We will be updating it with fall screenings throughout the U.S. and abroad in the next few weeks. And thank you for your kind words!
Truly Inspiring
I remember watching The Price of Sex and being both in constant awe of the strength the women in this documentary carry and complete and utter sadness at the reality of a problem that exists worldwide, and extensively so. During the documentary we see how women, time and time again, are pushed into situations that leave them incapacitated and eternally damaged. There is no way out and no happy ending. I respect Mimi's ability to show the public that her mission was not to show a happy story, but to demonstrate the deep impact sex trafficking can have on both women and their families. The irreparable damage is something that should create an urgency within viewers, to start talking about this important topic and doing something about it. Greater awareness is the start to changing the future of generations to come. Thank you Mimi, for this inspiration and wake-up call.
Movie Showings
I saw the article on NPR and read several articles on the documentary. I see there have been limited screenings. Will this be shown somewhere I can see it at a theater? Thanks.
Re: Movie Showings
Thank you for your comment. Yes, we'll show the film in Portland but still working out dates & details. Please check the screenings page for updates. All the best, Mimi Chakarova
I was privileged to preview the film at London City University, where Mimi came to speak at our International Journalism class. It's an incredibly powerful film, and brought many of us to tears. It was an unforgettable class, not just because of the film, but also to meet Mimi herself. She exuded warmth, and kindness, and is clearly full of character. I consider myself lucky to have met her. For those of you who haven't seen the film, watch it, you need to.
Women have forever been seen as property
I understand the outrageous things that are going on in the world, from "ordinary" domestic violence to sex trafficking to stoning women in the Mid East, to the carnage in the DRC. I understand those are the things that horrify people, and rightly so. What i also firmly believe is that nonoe of this will stop with laws, or "awareness." As mentioned in your interview on WBAI even the "nice" Johns wanted their privilege, no matter how guilty they may have felt afterward. There is no depending on compassion, here, that is ever gong to make this right -- men want their privileges and like any other abusive class -- like the Nazis, only war will stop it. There IS a war against women, and the longer we deny this, and thus refuse to mount a defense of whatever type necessary, the more this will proliferate. This is not a mere social problem, it is gynocide. Considering that women were legally property even in the US, wont women even have the nerve to refuse to change their names when they marry, to refuse to hyphenate, to insist the man change his name, to have the children named after her, things like that that defy male's interest in marriage as having the woman subservient? We hear of mrs john smith, an appalling concept, but not of mr jane smith. Are we so battered here in the US that we cannot even do that? Can we not send a sympathy card to a woman who marries, as it only recently became illegal to rape one's wife in all 50 states? Can we scream bloody murder when we are called "hon" on the streets, at work, or when patronizing businesses? I regret to inform everyone that if we cant do these "simple" things, no one will ever ever ever stop treating women as personal property to be abused. Starting at the top, wiht the dramatic things, will not work. Start at the BOTTOM.
Re: Women have forever been seen as property
I wrote my own response without reading yours first. I have to agree. We need to look at WHY there is human trafficking and sex slavery in the first place. Until we figure out why women and children are bought and sold at alarming rates, how can we stop it? I am so glad this film was made. It is shedding some very necessary light on this issue. But I wish there were more people naming the agent of this kind of oppression. Because the agent is the age-old misogyny of our overwhelmingly Patriarchal world. There is nothing wrong with saying that the men who control and support this trade are vile. They ARE vile. Just say it. These men are entitled, privileged, merciless monsters who trade human beings and essentially destroy their lives, hopes & dreams. These men put their sexual desires before a woman's human right to live with dignity, respect, security and freedom. These men simply do not care about the way women & children are trafficked and enslaved - they just want to profit and/or put their dick in them. This is the ugly truth. JUST SAY IT. I use my real name on my posts because I think it's important that more women have the courage to speak the truth - because we always hold back from saying anything negative about male behaviour (because we are afraid of the consequences). It is a sign of our oppression that we are afraid to simply speak out against the terrible ways we are treated by men around the world. The fact that we hesitate to criticise our oppressors is one of the key signs that we are oppressed! It's very important that more women start saying exactly what I am saying. It's the truth, and it needs to be told. Please stop censoring yourselves. We need to speak up, and loudly, and clearly - and tell these kinds of men that the way they treat women & children is NOT OKAY and we are not going to tolerate it in silence any longer.
Re: Women have forever been seen as property
I am glad to know that critical listeners/viewers like you are connecting the dots and understand the reality of many women in this world, including the discrepancies and hypocrisies in our own backyard. I also agree with you about starting at the bottom. That said, I don't believe that taking an extreme approach or fighting this battle on one front is effective. And I don't think that men are the enemy. I would never have been able to approach this topic and do it justice without the support and resilience of countless men AND women who devote their lives to social change and freedom for others. Their goodness and the courage of the young women in "The Price of Sex" are a testament that silence can be broken, respect can be gained and public perception, re-defined. We created this page as an international forum for thoughts and ideas. I would love to know what yours are. What steps should people take, in your opinion, to start this battle at the bottom?
Re: Women have forever been seen as property
Hi Mimi, I hope you don't mind if I join this conversation. We are not saying "men are the enemy". Of course there are many good men in the world. The problem is the prevailing mindset that a man's sexual privilege is more important than a woman's entire life. Because the sex trade is built on the premise that male sexual privilege is more important than a woman's life. The entire world is focused on catering to male sexual privilege - religions cater to it, as does prostitution, pornography, and even the construct of the nuclear family. The sex trade is just a product of that mindset. You have to kill the mindset (please, KILL IT) in order for things to improve for women and children. Because until men stop believing that their dicks are more important than other human beings, this kind of thing will never end.
Sickening... and Hopeful
As a man - as a human being - the images and stories shared on your website are beyond disturbing. The idea that these things are happening in our world to the extent that they are makes my heart ache. How do we bring ourselves to perform atrocities like this on other humans? How, in the face of even the strongest lust, greed, hatred, or betrayal can someone do the things you've now so eloquently exposed? I see these images and I wonder how our species has come to be this way - and most importantly - how can we reverse these trends of violence and empower people to make positive use of their lives? To help, love, and build wonderful things with one another rather than intimidate, hate, and destroy. Though you film will be watched by many people around our planet, how can we ensure this message is received by those who need to hear it most? How can the perverse minds of men and women who enslave others be shown the inhuman truth of their actions and ways to improve their own lives? Empowering women who are enslaved is only half the solution. Showing people who enslave others a better way to live is the other.
The Price of Sex: Women Speak
I had the pleasure to meet Mimi Chakarova in person during her trip to Aarhus, Denmark, where she premiered her documentary during a guest lecture. Seeing the film itself is one thing, but having the chance to get this highly personal insight from Mimi herself made it even better. Working in an industry (journalism) that is currently undergoing severe transformations (emergence of user generated content, etc.), it is great to see that there are still people out there that share the rather idealistic perspective of journalism: to expose wrong-doing and to strive for better conditions for people that are socially marginalized. That is what Mimi accomplished, so she was and is an inspiration for young journalists like myself. The film itself could not be more authentic. It's intense, and most importantly: REAL. I highly recommend it.
Re: The Price of Sex: Women Speak
Aljosha, reading your article on trafficking this morning made me so proud. This is exactly what I've been hoping my students and viewers would do – watch this film, ask questions, and then find an avenue for their own point of view and personal protest. This is how we can change perspectives. And I agree with The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime that you mention in your research: trafficking is “a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with by any government alone." So each one of us must do our part.
How can I help?
Is there a way average citizens can help? Human trafficking has been brought to my attention by other articles on NPR and although I have always wished I could help... this story is causing me to act. The author's courage in going under cover- her hometown knowledge of girls that disappeared- it is incomprehensible to me. I wish I could be a part of a local group that could influence our national politicians- is that possible?
Re: How can I help?
Ms. Kennedy, I am so glad that hearing the story on NPR led you to pose this important question. I also hope you get to see the film. We will screen THE PRICE OF SEX in Anchorage later this year. Now, what can you do? How can you help? I can answer this question on multiple levels.The first step is to inform others. Tell them about what triggered your reaction. What is it about what I said on NPR that made you want to stand up? Knowledge and understanding are always the first steps. Yes, there are organizations that you can join – look for anti-trafficking NGOs in your area or domestic violence centers. Most of the women I interviewed were abused years before they were sold as sex slaves. The root of trafficking is much deeper than poverty and failed social systems. If you click on "Get Involved," you will see other suggestions of what you can do to help. And the mere fact that you're willing to take a stand is commendable. I sincerely thank you. All my best, Mimi Chakarova
The Price of Sex
I cannot properly describe Mimi's documentary. At least not with adjectives, even digging into my thesaurus. The force of her work is much better approached by using verbs: outrage, sadness, pride (there are tales of great courage in the film, including Mimi's), shock, disgust, amusement (some of the ironies she captures are funny despite the grave context in which they occur), fury, disbelief, resignation, obligation and compulsion to do something. It's this last sensation that most forcefully articulates the value and quality of Mimi's work. What can we do? There is no better reaction a journalist can elicit from an audience than the need and desire to make a difference, to improve the world. Mimi and her team have accomplished this with striking clarity, through the choice of story, script, interviews, camera work, music and, most of all, Mimi's unyielding presence at the center of the narrative. William Randolph Hearst created what he called , "Journalism of Action." A fabulous idea -- giving our profession blood and heart -- and one we reporters, hunched in our observational foxholes, could stand to learn from. He meant something a little different than my own translation of this concept. To my mind, "Price of Sex," is one of the finer examples of how that should go. Thank you, Mimi, and congratulations.
Mimi Chakarova came to City University London to show Price of Sex to our postgraduate journalism class. The bar was high - previous speakers include heads of international news agencies and journalists of the most remarkable kind. But Mimi was exceptional. Emotion reached fever pitch as the credits rolled, and I was both shocked and moved by what I had seen in The Price of Sex. This surprised me, as I have campaigned on sex trafficking; a result of this is an unnaturally high exposure to such crimes. Mimi's strength was her ability to show what has become a brutal norm in an extraordinary way - tracing the interwoven lives of women whom each of us could have known or been. The Price of Sex is a triumph in investigative journalism, and must not be missed.
Re: Inspirational
Thank you for sharing your impressions. The trajectory followed by the thousands of women trafficked into the sex trade each year is eerily similar. It's a time-tested model, and traffickers know what works. As we began to weave together 7 years of Mimi's footage, interviews and photographs documenting the horrible practice and its end results, the commonalities could not have been more apparent. In 'The Price of Sex', one woman takes us on a portion of her awful journey. She takes a breath, and passes the torch to her sister in the tragedy, who continues where the first left off. And so on. A woman reveals a chapter in her story, and as her story is woven together with others - a universal truth emerges: this is how it happened to one woman…and to untold thousands, maybe millions more. Truth is often simple. And the stark simplicity with which each of these women was forced into sexual slavery paints a cold and brutal picture of the world. But there is a fundamentally more important truth to this story. Each of the women we spend time with in the film is courageous to the core. They were brave enough to survive a living Hell, brave enough to fight their way back home, and ultimately brave enough to share their story with the world. And every time their story is told, the broader truth is laid bare: that sex trafficking flourishes because it is too easily ignored or dismissed. Every time their stories are shared, perceptions are altered, and perhaps another mind is changed. I know that mine was, and I will be forever grateful for it.