When Bill and Laurie Bolthouse took their three daughters to Cambodia six years ago, they never dreamed of the lasting impact the experience would …
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When Bill and Laurie Bolthouse took their three daughters to Cambodia six years ago, they never dreamed of the lasting impact the experience would have.
While Bill Bolthouse, who served on the board of an organization called Jeremiah’s Hope, was busy investigating the possibility of building a hospital in the area, his wife was becoming involved with the International Justice Mission and learning more about the issues of child sex trafficking in the country.
One thing led to another and the family found themselves celebrating their daughter Molly’s 9th birthday with a group of Cambodian girls in their early teens who had been rescued from the trafficking trade.
“When we went back to the hotel, my girls were just crying, curled up into little balls,” Bill Bolthouse said. “To see these young girls and know their stories; that they had been sold by their families, that they had undergone serial rape under the hands of users and pedophiles, some had HIV, and to hold that truth as a young girl, they came away with an angry prayer and it was ‘God, why do we live in a world where this happens? Is this all we can do, take them out for ice cream?’ ”
That prayer wasn’t answered overnight, Bolthouse said, but a couple years later he received a call from Christopher Bessette, a movie director and writer whom he had worked with in the past on a film called “The Enemy God.” Bessette had just returned from Cambodia blown away by what he saw and wanted to make a movie.
“He had no idea we had even been there,” Bolthouse said.
The trio cast Dermot Mulroney and Academy Award-winning actress Mira Sorvino in the leading roles and headed to Thailand to make “Trade of Innocents,” which opened in New York City in September 2012.
“Thailand’s film commission was on set all the time, making sure we didn’t flip the script and talk about Thailand’s sex-trafficking problem instead,” Bolthouse said. “It’s the same as Cambodia’s, but as long as you are talking about someone else’s problem it’s fine. Most small countries like that want to protect their reputation. They want to make it ‘the resort, the fun capitol,’ not ‘the sex capitol for children.’ ”
The purpose of making the movie, Bolthouse said, was to raise awareness and to move people to action, and not just overseas either.
“We based the movie on the situation in Cambodia because it lent itself to a great story, but we have always been aware that it is not just an Asian problem,” he said. “I think it’s our responsibility to look at our own culture as well as look abroad. We need to say ‘these things are not right and we are not going to allow this to continue.’ ”
For more on the movie, or links to groups that are combating child sex trafficking locally, please visit www.tradeofinnocents.com. The film is available through Netflix, DIRECTV on demand and for purchase on the movie website.
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