When you hear the word “freedom” what comes to mind? For me, it’s carefree, joyful, no rules and if I thought about it, my list could continue! But what if “freedom” meant not being affected by; meant being released; meant relief; meant a change of life; meant escape; meant not being enslaved? What if it meant emotionally, mentally and physically free?
Have you ever been to a movie “on business?” It was a first for me a few weeks ago. Despite having an evening without children, I knew we weren’t out for “fun!” It’s been years since going to the movies and sitting in a theatre once again felt somewhat foreign. While there was an intrigue related to the movie content, I was under no guise that this movie could deeply and profoundly affect me. And I couldn’t have been more right! I also knew that, as mother, this could be exceptionally triggering. And it was.
The movie begins in the Honduras. The purity of a child’s voice sings hauntingly as it draws us through the windows and we focus on a little girl playing on a drum. Soon afterwards, a beautiful woman appears and, maybe because I know where this is going, she oozes charm and trouble. As sly as a snake covered by a stunning exterior. She presents an “amazing opportunity” to a seemingly poor to middle class family and she has obviously already spoken to the child, because the girl’s face lights up with possibility when she enters the home.
What comes of the meeting is a father wishing to give his daughter (and his son too) a better life and more opportunity than he seems to have been afforded. What parent wouldn’t want that? He is sold a lie and takes his children to a photoshoot. And while all looks above board for the first few minutes, the audience sits uneasy. And it soon becomes clear why – a hellish nightmare begins to unfold. Something no parent would wish on his worst enemy.
His children disappear.
While movies such as these tend to follow the journey of a parent seeking the child, this is not the case here. We follow the children instead. And afterwards, we may be left with the feeling of wishing the directors and producers had chosen, in fact, to follow the parent instead. Because the movie is incredibly difficult to watch. At some points, we may turn away. And some may even leave the theatres because it is actually too much to comprehend. But, that is exactly why we must stay! Stay glued to the seats; push through even when your eyes can no longer watch; even when they burn with tears; even when you can’t swallow because emotion is so full and heavy; even when the pain is so raw and real; even though you may even weep! Because everyone, yes everyone(!) needs to see this movie. And if I wasn’t convinced before, I was convinced fifteen minutes in. And even if it took me the duration of the movie to come to that conclusion, I’d still feel that everyone should watch it.
But would you? Would you go if it required all that “heavy stuff” I mentioned (and warned!) you of above? If it required feeling, emotion, pain and rawness?
Because it’s rough! You will go in with the full knowledge that this movie will affect you! Would you still go?
I tend towards a hearty “no!” You may not be courageous enough to say that word “no” so directly, but you may just be able to find every other excuse you can conjour up to avoid it at all costs.
Well, I think it’s about time to tell you what movie this is – if you haven’t already guessed!
The Sound of Freedom
Your response may be
“Aha, should have known.”
“Not going to watch! It’s too much!”
“Not my thing.”
“I would never choose to watch that!”
“Never heard of it.”
“Tell me more…”
So, to speak to the (possibly) few of those who want to know more, here it is.
To give you some background, it is based on a true story. Diabolical to know that at times but also really hope-filled at others. Jim Caviezel (stars as the Count in The Count of Monte Cristo and Jesus in The Passion of the Christ) plays Tim Ballard, a Special Agent in the Department of Homeland Security in the US. He worked with child crimes and child trafficking but mainly focused on those distributing and in possession of it. But at some point in his career, he wants to take things a step further and locate the children who are trafficked. That’s approximately where the movie begins – just before he decides to pursue actively searching for trafficked children.
And herein lies the essence of the movie. We zoom right into the heart of child trafficking. We follow two children sold into sex slavery.
For those of you still reading, thank you. Thank you for sticking with me thus far. Don’t leave your seat. Even though it hurts.
What the eyes see isn’t a scratch on the horrors these children see and face. At a point in the film, we see containers on a ship. In that moment, if I was the parent, I’d sooner wish their death rather than the hell that those children knew!
While there are many moments the mind can’t comprehend the depths of human depravity, there are also moments when you just want to weep with joy and relief that, despite of the vilest of circumstances, there is victory and there is triumph.
While this movie is rightly dubbed, “A fantastic movie I’ll never see again,” by an online review, you should know, for your own comfort, (SPOILER ALERT) that the two children are found. While the movie is based on true events, the two siblings depicted are actually representative of two children in two different operations. One was found. This makes knowing that this really happened bring hope to those of us in despair of how to bring change. (The story of the other is really worth reading! So incredibly selfless and humbling!)
Let’s be frank – we do feel that this problem is so astronomical that “tiny, insignificant, little us” can’t make a difference. We are happy to leave that up to the professionals like Tim Ballard, who are “called” to work in situations such as these. We praise them, call them “inspiring” and follow it with an “I could never do that!”
Well, let me quote the movie…
“What if that were your daughter?”
And so, in turn, I ask you the same, “What if it were your daughter?”
Let me venture a guess. If your daughter was missing, you would make a noise! You would tell everyone; splash pictures of her face everywhere in case someone had seen her. And if you had the money to employ a private investigator, the FBI, Scotland Yard and every last person who could help hunt her down, you would! You would go to the ends of the earth and beyond!
You would welcome the likes of Tim Ballard, a man so committed to finding her, he leaves his wife and his own children tucked away safely at home to go into the most dangerous place to find her*!
Well, that is someone’s daughter! There are thousands of parents that will go to bed tonight with a child’s bed empty. There are thousands of parents whose arms will ache to hold their child again, smell the scent of their hair and hear their laughter.
But if we carry on ignoring the plight of so many parents because “we could never do that job,” or “we can’t stomach to watch that – too traumatising,” we choose to close our eyes to the help that we could give to those desperate parents across the globe. Because each of us can help be it in a small way or large.
During the movie, Jim Caviezel (starring as Tim Ballad) says,
“Did you know there were over 22 million new images of child pornography on the web this past year? That’s a 5000% increase over the last 5 years. 5000% The fact is it’s the fastest growing international crime the world has ever seen. It has passed the illegal arms trade and soon it’s going to pass the illegal drug trade. You wanna know why? ‘Cause you can sell a bag of cocaine one time, but a child – the most precious child- you can sell a 5 year-old kid 5 to 10 times a day for ten years straight. And every day, ordinary people don’t want to hear it. It’s too ugly for polite conversation but meanwhile 2 million children are being sucked into the deepest recesses of hell. Trust me, man, if we do nothing, their pain is going to spread and spread.” – The Sound of Freedom
- More than 4.8 million people worldwide are sold into sex slavery every year. 1 million of those are children. (Human Trafficking Institute)
- The average age of a minor sold into sex slavery is 12.8 years-old. (Fight the New Drug)
- South Africa is a place of origin of victims and is seen as a good transit country between Africa and Europe and America. (Mail and Guardian) Sex trafficking victims are also brought into South Africa for “business” here.
- Trafficking syndicates organised in South Africa are exploiting girls as young as 10 in sex trafficking. (2023 Trafficking in Persons Report: South Africa done by the U.S. Department of State)
So here we sit with these stats. The situation is dire. And dire enough to render us seemingly helpless.
You can do something.
You can open your eyes.
You can look, see and understand.
You can acquire knowledge.
You can refuse to remain silent.
You can speak up for children/people who are daily sold and used in sex slavery.
You can create a noise, speaking with friends, colleagues and on social media to raise awareness.
You can buy a ticket for the movie and pay it forward.
Jim Caviezel says in a short clip after the movie,
“We want to ignite a fire in audiences to open their eyes to the dark reality of the millions of children who need our help!” (Not just sex slavery but slavery in other forms too.)
He continues, “Let’s make this film a historic event and start the end of child trafficking. Much can be done if you have a blockbuster film.”
So he encourages you to buy a ticket for the movie so someone else can view it for free. Anyone can apply for a free ticket…even you! They want as many people in theatres in the next three months so noise can be made. You can click here to visit the website.
However, there is another way you can make a difference…
- Facebook alone in the first three quarters of the year 2022 flagged 73.3 million images of child pornography.
- PornHub – one of the biggest porn sites deleted – 10 million videos of sexual abuse material in 2020, with “only” 3 million videos remaining on their website.
- Pornography is the driving force behind the international sex trafficking industry(MacKinnon, 2005).
So there you have it. Pornography use is fuelling the sex trafficking trade.
According to a surveys done by iWeb last year, 55% of children under the age of 18 view porn regularly. And, according to IOL in an article a few weeks back, 10% of children watching porn in SA are viewing every day in restaurants, schools and the like.
So what are we going to do?
On the drive back from the movie, I sobbed in the front seat, passionate through my tears that people won’t watch this because it’s uncomfortable and people will be required to “feel” when they watch this.
And here we are, living our cushy life in a nice suburb convinced we will not be affected by child trafficking and we can carry on, just closing a tab raising awareness as we purchase things off Takealot.
But let me tell you, every time you, someone in your family or anyone else clicks on an image or video, you/them are saying “Yes” to human trafficking. You are saying yes to people being sold for sex. You are saying yes to porn stars needing to be high, dissociated or drugged in order to perform. You are saying yes to abuse. You are saying yes to depictions of sexual violence (88.2% of porn is violent.)
And the sad thing is, so many people are completely unaware that their one click is creating a need for the industry. Traffic to a website means money. Money means at whatever cost. And the cost is the lives of others for the pleasure of some who saying, “It’s not harming anyone.”
The devastating reality is that trafficked children are “groomed” by the likes of modelling agencies, online platforms such as gaming and social media or promises of love, money and food.
“According to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, predators are soccer coaches and trusted teachers, neighbours across the street, uncles and aunts.” (Our Rescue)
We, as parents, need to equip our children to know how to act in a dangerous or compromising situation, even if all appears above board. You can click here to learn more about help your family.
In the movie, Tim (Jim Caviezel) quotes Luke 17:2 to a paedophile who unknowingly laughs before the police descend on him
Tim Ballard, alongside Jim Caviezel in an interview, says that “Jesus goes into the darkest places.” He says that he was to “obey God and leave the consequences to Him.” He felt the Lord saying, “take my name where it’s dim and unknown and make it famous.”
Vampiro, a man who assists Ballard in the movie, says, “When God tells you what to do, you cannot hesitate!”
“Can you love His children more than you fear evil?” Tim Ballard/Jim Caviezel
I end with this.
“We can choose to look the other way but never again can we say we did not know.”
Photo Credit: Angel Studios/The Sound of Freedom
*in the movie, Tim is searching for one girl. However, in real life, the child he looks for is actually a boy and part of a different rescue mission.
Tags: child pornography, human trafficking, jim caviezel, modern day slavery, pornography, sex, sex trade, the sound of freedom, the sound of freedom movie, tim ballard, trafficking