There are no happy endings to these trafficking stories,” former federal police officer Chris Payne wryly notes in this sequel to the 2005 documentary, Trafficked, in which he sought belated justice for a Thai woman he helped to rescue from a Sydney brothel in 1995 when she was just 13 years old.
Haunted by her story and the untold suffering of countless young women who followed in her footsteps at the brothel, which, bizarrely, was not shut down by the authorities, Payne now has the elusive brothel owner in his sights.
In north-eastern Thailand, he tracks down the now-29-year-old Ning, who is married with a son and is running a small garage with the proceeds from her historic crime compensation payout. However, years of alcohol and drug abuse have dampened Ning’s recollection of important details but not the pain of her ordeal, while HIV is beginning to break down her body.
With extraordinary courage and unwavering faith in Payne and his investigation, she confronts the rapist who infected her with the virus. Video diary-style footage of Payne, in parked cars and bleak hotel rooms, reveals a weary yet dogged detective who refuses to give up the chase despite the tedium of surveillance and the frustration of setbacks.
His emotional frankness and black humour make surprisingly watchable viewing for such grim subject matter. The staggering statistics of the sex-slave trade, however, leave an unshakeable impression.
Acquisto is currently in post-production on Trafficked, a one hour documentary for SBS on the subject of sex trafficking from S.E. Asia into Australia. Trafficked tells the story of a former Australian Federal Police officer, Chris Payne’s ongoing investigation into the fate of two young Thai girls trafficked to Australia: Nikki, a thirteen year old Thai girl found in a Sydney brothel in 1995, and, Phuongtong Simpalee, a 27 year old Thai woman who died in custody at the Villawood Detention centre in 2000. The film will follow Chris Payne as he investigates stories of women and children caught up in prostitution’s ‘trade routes’ in Australia, Thailand and Cambodia. Payne is a former Australian Federal Police officer who headed a special task force formed to combat sex trafficking in the mid 1990s.