A Sex Video That Will Surprise You

Human trafficking is the number two most lucrative illegal industry — behind drug trafficking — in the world. Because of its clandestine nature it’s difficult to gauge the extent of its reach, but experts believe that at any given time there are anywhere between 12.3 and 27 million people in forced or bonded labor — and many of them forced against their will into sex work. Promised good paying jobs as waitresses, shop girls and dancers — these women leave their families and their communities and are sold into a life of sexual servitude and abuse.

Tourists to Amsterdam’s Red Light District–and other areas where prostitution is legal–want to believe that the women who stand in the windows offering sex are doing so of their free will. But Amsterdam, like anywhere else, is not immune to the sex trafficking trade. Sex traffickers will force women to ply themselves as trade wherever they believe they can make buck, and wherever they think they’ll be less likely to run into trouble from police or the government. And why not? Trafficking is big money; according to the F.B.I., it generates around $9.5 billion annually.

Traffickers typically move women from east to west, plucking women from poor former Soviet states and East Asian countries and moving them westward, where there is plenty of demand. The traffic of women around the globe and away from their homes and families serves a secondary purpose, though: to isolate its victims by putting them in alien environments. They know no one but their trafficker, they don’t speak the language, and they are told that if they go for help, they’ll be arrested.

If you think trafficked women aren’t in the U.S. and Canada, they are. They are everywhere — even though they often have very little visibility or power. But this video, filmed in Amsterdam’s Red Light District, hopes to change that. [Upworthy]