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Sisters for Sale: On the Brutal Realities of Human Trafficking

Ben Randall, an Australian photographer and videographer, spent three months in Sapa in 2010. It the two years that followed, five young Hmong women he had befriended were kidnapped and sold into China.

Upon hearing this tragic news, Randall decided to try and find them. This is the story of Sisters for Sale, an award-winning documentary which takes an up-close looking at human trafficking along the Vietnam-China border.

"When I was living in Sa Pa in 2010, there was a group of 10 Hmong girls who would sit on the corner of my street selling handicrafts," Randall tells Urbanist Hanoi in an email. "Within 20 months of my leaving Sa Pa, no less than five of those girls were kidnapped in separate incidents."

The filmmaker began researching the topic and quickly realized the scale of the human trafficking crisis in the area.

"The documentary was originally intended as a simple, six-week production in Vietnam, involving interviews with survivors, families and friends of the victims, and experts in the field," Randall explains. "However, when I realized I might actually have a chance to find my kidnapped friends in China, I decided to follow the story to its conclusion, and it led me much further than I'd ever imagined possible."

The project turned into a year-long effort, and along the way, two of the young women, named May and Pang, were actually rescued from China.

Randall is now raising funding through Indiegogo to complete a book and podcast series based on Sisters for Sale, all while raising awareness of human trafficking.

"Sisters for Sale is a unique and fascinating story which reached millions of people around the world before the film was even finished," Randall shares. "Now that the film has been released, we want to use it to support Alliance Anti-Trafic and the Blue Dragon Children's Foundation, two amazing organizations working to rescue girls kidnapped from Vietnam. We want to give audiences a better understanding of what human trafficking really means, and how it touches all of our lives."

The full documentary can be viewed for a donation of US$1 through the above link, while viewers can learn more about the campaign and the film through the below video:

Ultimately, Randall hopes the documentary and his advocacy give people a better understanding of this complex topic.

"While most of us are now aware of the phrase 'human trafficking,' very few of us actually understand what it truly means, or what a monstrous issue it is," he shares. "I've spent the past six years working to give people an understanding of what human trafficking really is, and how it affects people. I've received a huge number of messages from people who have been amazing and fascinated when they've realized what human trafficking actually involves."


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