Girls Gone Wild: against human trafficking

crime | May 08, 2012 | By Martin Barillas

A pair of Dutch film makers are taking on one of the world's worst crimes: human trafficking. Konraad Lefever and Duval Guillaume directed a video for YouTube to promote StopTheTraffik - a human rights advocacy group based in the UK that seeks to criminalize the sale of human beings, who largely end up in the international sex trade.

Set in Amsterdam's infamous Red Light District, the pair filmed scantily clad young women who posed behind glass at street level as passersby to evaluate them as prostitutes. For decades young women, and some men, have posed at the street-level brothels in displays reminiscent of department store windows. The film making pair used this to another purpose as they filmed six women who at first appear to beckon the men who pass by on the street with beckoning glances and gestures.

Soon, after the cameras pan over the reactions of some of the potential johns, the girls begin to dance, shake, twist, and shudder to a Euro-techno beat. Men passing by soon begin to stop to look and admire as the girls' antics become ever more frenetic. The music and movement finally reach a crescendo as the men cheer on the dancers with catcalls and wolf whistles. The surprise comes at the end, when the true message of the display becomes evident to all. It is a seamless example of documentary techniques used along with a kind of participatory street theater.

This video was produced by the Belgian advertising agency Duval Guillaume Modem, which is based in Antwerp. The firm had a hit in 2011 with a video done for a Belgian digital broadcaster.


The video made for StopTheTraffik has now gotten over 1 million hits on YouTube, plus tens of thousands of people have also posted it on Facebook. According to Lefever, "when we make our videos, we always hope that they will be spread on Facebook and YouTube. But there's no guarantee. Our videos are often interactive. If you include a live stunt, viewers feel more involved." Copywriter Dries de Wilde said, according to Dutch media, "Take the documentary Kony 2012 that got more than 100 million hits in less than a month. If you present the message in a refreshing way, people are more likely to share it with others spontaneously."

Numerous human rights campaigners, churches, and advocacy groups have allied with StopTheTraffick. Celebrities who cooperate with the group include actors Martin Sheen and Ioan Gruffud, and rocker Bob Geldof.

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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