Thriller with a message
The sinister workings of illegal prostitution have burdened our detention centres and courts for many years. Since the recent uncovering of sex trafficking in Australia, transsexual director and writer Dee McLachlan has embarked on a creative journey to tackle the issue.
Her latest film, The Jammed,captures the true essence of Melbourne and Sydney’s sex trade.
“I once read that 40 girls were being held captive in Kew – an upper class suburb of Melbourne. I was in such disbelief that a thing like this was possible,” McLachlan said.
“My script is mild compared to what really goes on. A large percentage of the girls don’t know that they’re coming to Australia to become prostitutes and they’re treated like dirt.
“I remember reading one transcript where a girl was repeatedly raped until she was broken in and agreed to do it. Some girls who refuse are locked away for weeks on end and fed pizza under the door.”
McLachlan said the demand for prostitutes in Australia and the lack of local girls willing to go into the business were key reasons why women were trafficked into the country and forced to serve as sex slaves. She said the problem was more pronounced in America where up to 50,000 women a year are illegally brought in to work as prostitutes.
“Our government is in denial. It’s much easier to deport them than to sort out the problems and see them as victims,” McLachlan said. “Many don’t testify because they fear the consequences and retribution on their family.
“Some girls won’t testify even with [a 30-day temporary] visa. They say, ‘Why should we help you and get our lives threatened at the other end?’ Other countries have amended the laws and the victims get residency and protection, which helps when testifying.”
McLachlan said The Jammed took just 19 days to film. The script centres on a Chinese mother who comes to Australia to find her missing daughter. She enlists the help of an innocent bystander and together they rescue three girls from a trafficking syndicate.
It is a graphic and confronting film, which contains rape and physical abuse scenes. But it is also an emotional movie that taps into the strength of relationships, desperation and a need to survive.
“Many of these slaves carry a large amount of shame and guilt – some even take their own lives, so they’re not looked down upon by their family,” McLachlan said.
“I never wanted to make a movie that was black and white. There’s no real closure. I hope the gay and transsexual community can see the struggle for rights and freedom in the film.”
The Jammed opens at the Palace Verona, Paddington, and Palace Norton St, Leichhardt, on 30 August.