Frontline Tuesday: Sex Slaves
This week's Frontline focuses on the sex trade in Eastern Europe. It airs on Tuesday at 10:00 pm PST on PBS. Check it out:
Although the sex trade is global in nature, it was in Eastern Europe and Turkey that FRONTLINE found an opportunity to investigate just how the traffickers prey on women who go abroad with dreams of employment and a
better life. And, in this Tuesday's "Sex Slaves," FRONTLINE confronted a story that required a technique the series has rarely used - hidden cameras. It's a device we thought necessary to understand how the sex trade operates.
The producing team focuses much of its attention on one man, Viorel, whose wife, Katia, was trafficked to a particularly violent pimp. Producer/Director Ric Bienstock told us: "Viorel said his wife was sold by an acquaintance of his and this acquaintance phoned him and said, 'Viorel, I sold your wife.' And that struck me as very odd because if someone sold your wife, why would he call?"
Viorel agrees to let the producers follow him and record his efforts to get his wife back. The story takes the team into the world of pimps and middlemen who illegally buy and sell hundreds of thousands of women each year. But using hidden cameras, mics, and pretense is not as easy as it sounds. There are real dangers, both practical and ethical.
FRONTLINE discussed some of the issues with producer Felix Golubev. For example, he told us that when he went with a hidden shirt-camera to have conversations with traffickers, he didn't let the police know because he didn't believe they could be trusted. Later, however, he felt obligated to tell the police about the existence of the people shown in the film
because of the harm they posed to women. As for his personal safety, Felix says, "I had a couple of close calls. One was a meeting in Turkey with a middleman. The guy kept staring at my shirt. I was sure he discovered I had a hidden camera. Finally, he stretches his hand toward the camera. I look down, and what do I see? A piece of lint sitting next to the camera. So I grabbed his hand and said 'I'll take care of it' and just took it off." Golubev says the people he dealt with are dangerous
enough to harm you. "They always have people with them. You never know who is watching from the sidelines."
To find out what happens to Viorel and Katia and to see what the sex trade is really all about, we hope you will join us Tuesday for "Sex Slaves."