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A Path Appears is a patchwork of gender bias and human rights violations. It’s a visual follow-up to the best-selling book by renowned journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; an exposé on the universal trends that perpetuate atrocities like human trafficking. In a partial screening at the New York Historical Society, viewers were given a preview of the three-part series to come. It’s a narrative that’s global in scope, traveling across America, Haiti and Africa to visit former prostitutes, teen mothers, and children living in the scarcity of Kenyan slums. Even in these condensed segments recurring themes emerged: molestation by male authority figures, childhood neglect, and our misconceptions on the prevalence of human trafficking.
As noted in the film, America, in particular, needs to integrate its idea of prostitution and sexual slavery. The common view is that scantily clad women soliciting themselves do so of their own volition. In reality, they are coerced, either by abusive pimps or dire situations. Even more troubling is that many of them believe sex as currency is the norm, a lesson learned in early life. As the social activist Becca Stevens stated: “If that’s your choice, then what are the options?” Scenes show women pacing the snowy streets of Chicago in sweatpants and puffy coats looking for a $10-$20 job. These women don’t fit into the stereotype associated with sex workers and so they fall through the cracks.
The film is eye opening, to say the least. One former prostitute in Nashville admitted Monday morning was her busiest day for clients; men needed a fix after a family heavy weekend. In one segment, Kristof accompanied police on a sting for “Johns” or clients. It turns out the type of person that buys sex is universal, just like their excuse – it was the first time! One man even stated: “It’s for my back! Masseuses are expensive!” While these arrests are progress, they still don’t cut to the root of the problem: the system that allows human trafficking to flourish.
A Path Appears aims to offer solutions along with the problems it presents. Celebrities like Blake Lively, Malin Akerman and Mia Farrow (who is nothing short of a human rights badass) are featured, and their efforts are noteworthy and genuine. Though, it’s saddening that it takes a celebrity for the public to perk up and listen. Overall, A Path Appears is brimming with moments of heartache and hope. The screening only skimmed the surface of the series, and it’s worth tuning in to see the portraits they present in depth.
A Path Appears will air in a three part series on January 26th, 2nd February and 9th February 2015 at 10PM on channel Thirteen. It’s a special presentation from Independent Lens.
Watch the trailer for A Path Appears here: