Couple to bring child sex slavery issues to light
By Robert White | Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The creative team behind the Emancipation Project: Philip Adkins and Isabelle Castella. PHOTO: PHILIP ADKINS/EMANCIPATION PROJECT
ELORA, ONA former drama teacher and her photographer/videographer husband say a "holy discontent" goaded them to shed light on the dark places of child sex slavery.
"I think of my own daughter [11-year old Madeline] tucked under her Hannah Montana comforter with her dolls and stuffies," says Castella. "And I think of those children, that I can't even tell my daughter about and some of the things that girls, her age, are going through."
An NBC story on International Justice Mission's work with child sex slaves in Cambodia moved the couple.
"When we saw the images of four and seven-year-olds, the four-year-old on the hip of the seven-year-old in the basement of a locked brothel waiting for their next customer, we were disgusted," recalls Castella. "We said we need to move beyond just financial giving. "We need to take what we have and see what we can do to change the situation."
In June, Castella and Adkins interviewed MP Joy Smith who's spearheading a bill to set a minimum five-year jail sentence for child trafficking. They also plan to talk to police and university professors before heading to Thailand in October. In return for ADRA's help in providing guides and translators, Castella and Adkins will produce a short video on the ministry's work in the child sex slaves industry.
ADRA addresses some of the underlying issues such as poverty and education by giving parents the same amount of money they'd get to sell their children into slavery. The ministry then educates the girls giving them the skills they need to live, changing both their and their family's lives.
"The more we've researched, the more we realized this isn't a surface issue," says Castella. "There is an incredibly deep core to it."
Digging beneath the surface, Castella will look atthe way culture shapes attitudes towards children, sex and what's acceptable, how supply and demand are important, Canada's role in the trade and how the international community deals with crime and prevention. Her goal is to see the documentary become "a seed for discussion" and move viewers from being spectators to getting involved.
But Castella still doesn't know where or how the documentary will be seen when finished in the spring or summer of 2010.
"Being our first documentary, we didn't have the broadcaster buying this prior to starting it. Our challenge at is the other end of things," Castella says. She hopes the Canadian content will attract Canadian broadcasters, as well as seeing it played in theatres.