As a response to the widespread and systematic sexual abuse of children, the documentary “Stopping Traffic: The Movement to End Sex-Trafficking” is inadequate. But then, any film would be, given the scale of the problem. There are 27 million victims annually, according to one advocate quoted in the movie. As an endnote acknowledges, such statistics are unreliable and probably understated.
That, of course, is because trafficking and prostitution are crimes, but also because they’re taboo and shocking. So director Sadhvi Siddhali Shree begins with candid testimony from a survivor of child sex abuse, John A. King, who’s now an activist. His words alone make the movie a harrowing experience.
The film visits Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico and the Philippines — all reportedly notorious for trafficking. But many of the activists, who include actor Dolph Lundgren and TV host Jeannie Mai, are based in Texas or Los Angeles. The tenor of their comments ranges from angry to pragmatic to spiritual. (Shree is a Jain monk.)
As both a movie and a battle plan for ending the child-sex trade, “Stopping Traffic” is disorganized and incomplete. Most of the fixes offered by the interview subjects — from policing the Internet to making black-market sex “scarier” — sound insufficient. The suggestions are, like the film, well-intentioned, but merely a beginning.
Unrated. At AMC’s Hoffman Center 22. Contains obscenity, sexual imagery and explicit accounts of sexual abuse. In English and Spanish with some subtitles. 79 minutes.