Sex trafficking is both a taboo subject and one that almost every citizen of this country has witnessed in one form or the other.
Before COVID-19, brothels disguised as bars, lounges and guest houses were some of the most popular nighttime spots used as cover for the illicit activity, according to Trinidadian film-maker Shane Lee Kit.
In addition, premises in residential areas were used to house sex workers and drivers would pick up and drop off to high paying clients at those locations. He said it has influenced how migrant women are treated.
“You will find that people tend to stereotype Venezuelan women in a certain way, as being promiscuous and as well as an object of sexual desire. That is mostly because of how Trinidadian interact with most of them,” he said,
“Many local females who share traits with a Venezuelan woman are often grouped into this category and are also heckled or harassed by Trinbagonian men and women. This can be attributed to decades-old stereotypes which were developed by many males whose only interaction with a Venezuelan was within a brothel in years gone by.
“Today, however, a large percentage of refugees are only seeking to make an honest living, but it still does not stop the unconscious categorisation that many people have when encountering immigrants.”
Lee Kit hopes his film Hang Jack, which he funded out of pocket, provokes thought and eventually a cultural change. The film is scheduled to be screened during the T&T Film Festival (ttff) on Friday. The 13-minute short is based on the male culture of playing cards.
“You will find that the main pastime activity aimed at men over 18 is playing all fours and I wanted to bring some kind of context that the audience could relate to,” Lee Kit explained
“I did not just want to take a genre from a foreign film that locals can’t connect to. The idea of a high stakes match where two lovers try to escape a brothel was very intriguing and I thought it would make a very good film,” Lee Kit expressed concern about the lack of support for local filmmakers.
“To actually go about continuing to make films it’s all about sacrifice and planning,” he said.
“You determine how much you want to tell stories. If you are a storyteller, like a lot of filmmakers are locally, you will find a way it but it is still a very difficult process. Grants are limited and with opportunities for funding the competition is high.
Lee Kit is hopeful that the local industry will change so that more films can be produced.