Two free showings of a documentary that explores the industry of human trafficking will be shown at the Webster Theater and the Metropolitan Theater this weekend.
The 2011 film, "Nefarious: Merchant of Souls," takes a look inside the second largest criminal industry in the world behind drug trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The U.S. State Department said as many as two-million children, some as young as seven years old, are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade.
Joy Fopma, who helped organize the screenings, said her son first brought the film to her attention. She said she was shocked after watching the documentary.
"I knew that human trafficking existed, I believe that it existed, but I never knew to what extent and how young the children are that are trafficked and in how many countries. It's everywhere. It's in Iowa," Fopma said.
The film does not directly discuss human trafficking in Iowa. However, Fopma said that there were 53 arrests in Iowa related to human trafficking last year. She said, on any given day, that there are 8,000 to 10,000 people involved in human trafficking in Minnesota. Additionally, last year in September, two people from Iowa City were arrested for trafficking three girls, two of which were age 16 and one who was 14, to Chicago. For Fopma, simply acknowledging the problem was not enough.
"I'm the type of person where I'm like, 'OK, I can cry a few tears about this and feel sorry for these people' and go on about my life, or, I can do something. I can spread the awareness and after we shared this film with a few others, we knew we had to get the awareness out," Fopma said.
After acquiring the rights to screen the film, Fopma said she contacted the owners of the Webster City and Iowa Falls theaters who were willing to show the film for a small fee. Fopma said her goals in showing the movie are to spread awareness of the issue, get people to pray for victims of the sex industry and to encourage donations to organizations that rescue women and help them get out of the trafficking industry.
One of those organizations that aim to support victims in the film is Agape ministries in Cambodia. Fopma said people attending the screening will be able to donate to the ministry if compelled to do so.
Fopma said anyone under the age of 18 must to be accompanied by a parent to view the film at the theater screenings. She said the film does not contain nudity, but the dark subject matter requires parental guidance to process for younger viewers. She encouraged parents that bring older teens to see the film to discuss the subject with them before and after the screening.
"Nefarious" will be shown at the Webster Theater on Saturday at 3 p.m. and at the Metropolitan Theater in Iowa Falls on Sunday at 3 p.m. For more information, contact Fopma at 720-7766.