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Combining testimony from survivors, opinion and analysis from their advocates with vivid depictions of the exploitation, Bilheimer covers a lot of ground and his film makes it clear that modern day slavery affects millions of human beings the world over.
Produced as part of CNN's 'Freedom Project', Not My Lifeundoubtedly has its heart in the right place but by concentrating on the victims, Bilheimer deflects attention from the perpetrators of the abuse. There are a couple of interviews with Romanian traffickers, serving woefully inadequate prison sentences, but there is only passing reference to the thousands of men who engage in sexual tourism, like those who travel to Cambodia to 'buy' traumatised children who they can then abuse for weeks at a time.
It’s also too simplistic to say that the trade in human beings is about 'good and evil'. It’s also about demand and about changing people's perception of slavery – for example, the purchase of sex; too many people don't stop to think that trafficked women and young girls, terrified for their lives, are not in a position to offer consensual sex. Those who engage in the abuse of trafficked persons, whether buying or selling, need to face criminal prosecution and harsh sentences, but Bilheimer barely touches on these issues.
Despite its shortcomings, Not My Life is a powerful indictment of the global trade in human beings and the abuse of vulnerable people. Human trafficking takes many forms, but the consequences are always devastating for the victims. By shining a light on these dark corners of the world, Bilheimer's message is clear: We all have a responsibility to these people and the first step is awareness. Not My Life is an important first step.