Want to End the War on Women? Fund a Film!

by Michelle Brock on December 3rd, 2013

Evan Grae DavisWe know some amazing people who are sewing seeds of justice around the world, and one of those people is filmmaker Evan Grae Davis.  Our relationship began about a year ago when we interviewed him about his documentary, It’s a Girl. He is currently working on a new project, which he is excited to share with you!

Evan Grae Davis…can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a husband, father, documentary filmmaker, speaker, and social justice activist. My passion is to leverage the power of documentary storytelling to confront culture and inspire social action. I have traveled the world with camera in hand for nearly two decades, advocating for social justice through writing and directing short documentaries and educational videos mobilizing support for non-profits and NGO’s championing the cause of the poor and exploited.

I’ve consulted with and worked along side over 100 regional, national and international organizations, helping them tell their stories and mobilize support for their cause. In 2012, I released my first independent, feature length documentary film, It’s a Girl, asking why nearly 200 million women are missing in the world today– killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. Shot on location in India and China, It’s a Girl reveals the issue and asks why this is happening, and why so little is being done to save girls and women.

Tell us about “It’s a Girl”… why did you make it, and what was the impact?

During the years I worked with non-profits around the world, I witnessed a lot of injustice. I began asking the question, what are the cultural roots and mindsets that allow for human rights violations on the scale seen throughout the world today? I set out to explore this question through a documentary film. I and the team traveled to nine nations capturing stories for this film. One of the nations we visited was India, hoping to understand how the subjugation and devaluation of women could be justified by the deeply established son-preference culture.

IAG poster webWhat we discovered while filming in India about the epidemic of missing girls and dramatically skewed sex ratios and related abuse and neglect of girls was a game-changer for us.

After hearing the UN statistic of as many as 200 million girls missing in the world today as a result of ‘gendercide’ we researched the issue in China, as well, and were completely astonished by how few people seemed to be aware of what appeared to be the greatest human rights issue of our time, and certainly the greatest form of violence against women in the world today. There seemed to be very little out there on the topic. It was then that we determined to dedicate the film project to exposing this untold story and educating and mobilizing a movement to end gendercide in India and China.

It’s a Girl has screened in hundreds of locations around the world in over 20 countries, with nearly half a million people joining the cause to end gendercide so far as a result of the film. I and the film have been featured in countless radio and media interviews, articles and reviews, including BBC Radio, NPR, New Internationalist, Ms. Magazine, World Magazine and many more. I have spoken at screenings and events globally, including colleges and universities, film festivals, at the European and British Parliaments and on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.

I have also been privileged to take the film and the issue of gendercide to some of the largest TEDx stages in South Asia and the U.S., challenging leaders and influencers from all over the world to act to stand against gendercide– one of the most significant human rights issue of our time and the greatest form of violence against women in the world today.

So what’s next? Why this?

As the It’s a Girl campaign continues to gain momentum, and with the successful release of It’s a Girl on DVD and iTunes, it’s time to think about what is next for me. I have recently launched a new film following up on the theme of It’s a Girl and answering some of the questions that have come up as a result of the film.

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My new film, Female — The World War on Women (working title) is a documentary film addressing the various forms of violence and abuse suffered by women on every continent around the globe. While exploring personal stories illustrating an array of issues such as the feminization of poverty, gendercide, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and the objectification and exploitation of women, experts will seek to identify the cultural mindsets and traditions that result in such human rights violations while activists will offer hope of change through viable solutions.

Why now?

The devaluation and subjugation of women worldwide continues today on a scale never seen before in history. What kind of epidemic is at the root of such widespread and methodical violence targeting half of the world’s population?

The answer is misogyny: the hatred of women, or the belief that women are inferior to men. It comes in many forms, including social discrimination, physical abuse, legal discrimination, and the generalized objectification of women. Misogynistic cultures often give husbands and fathers full legal rights over their wives and daughters.

Misogyny can be found in every part of the world, where one out of three women will become a victim of violence in her lifetime. In many parts of the developing world, however, misogyny is even more deeply woven into the fabric of the family and social culture – making the violence inescapable.

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Millions of women throughout the world continue to suffer in silence, and I hope to give them voice– to tell their stories, and the stories of those who are leading the way to greater rights and freedoms for women within their own cultures, who are inspiring movements demanding equality and justice.

How can we all help?

I have recently launched a crowd funding campaign for the film. The distribution model for an effective social action documentary cannot be driven by profit, so my films are made in a non-profit model, freeing me to focus on impact instead. This means I fund the production and distribution of my films through partnership with others who, like me, believe in fighting for the dignity and worth of women.

I am inviting those who want to be a part of making this film to back the project and help spread the word. Even small donations can make a big difference. You can learn more about the film and how to help by checking out my campaign here. And there are some great rewards for those who give, including the It’s a Girl DVD and a copy of the new film once it is complete.

Together, we can tell the stories that need to be told and help restore dignity and value to millions of women.

Evan Grae Davis is currently running an indiegogo campaign to raise the first $30,000.  This will fund the development and pre-production, allowing him and his team to conduct research, identify key stories, travel to capture some preliminary footage, and put together a trailer and other tools they will need to raise the remaining funding for post production and distribution.

You can contribute to the campaign here!




Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath: A Crucial Time for YOU to Prevent Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on November 18th, 2013

Source BBC Getty ImagesThe novel Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison begins with the 2006 tsunami crashing into the Indian coast, plunging entire communities into chaos. In the midst of the disorder, two young girls fall prey to traffickers.  This scenario is unfortunately all too real in regions of devastation.

Most natural disasters heighten the vulnerabilities of children who are already at-risk for sexual exploitation.  Typhoon Haiyan is no different.  When a child is separated from their parents or have lost their family altogether, human traffickers have a unique window of opportunity to kidnap and sell them into the sex trade.  In fact, some countries have been known to bar pedophiles from flying to disaster zones, in an effort to stop them from taking advantage of such profound vulnerability.

Source KomoNews

So it is with urgency that I ask you to consider making a donation to relief efforts in the Philippines.  The government of Canada is currently matching donations made by individuals to relief organizations like World Vision.  With 55 years of experience in the Philippines and staff members based throughout the country, they are working closely with government disaster response teams to assist with immediate and long term needs.

Your gift will help bring vital relief to children and families impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, by providing lifesaving essentials and emergency supplies like: food, blankets, household supplies, hygiene kits, shelter and clean drinking water.

Donate online here or call 1-866-595-5550 to make a donation over the phone.

Let’s all jump on board to provide relief for those affected by this typhoon, and by doing so reduce the vulnerabilities of at-risk men, women, and children.






Miss World Canada 2012 Tara Teng Endorses Red Light Green Light

by Michelle Brock on November 15th, 2013

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An Open Letter to Justin Bieber

by Michelle Brock on November 7th, 2013

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Photo by AGM-GSI

Dear Justin,

I recently met a Brazilian woman who used to sell sex to dignitaries and celebrities and wealthy businessmen.  Some would call her a “high class prostitute.” As one of the brothel favourites, she made great money, but she didn’t see much of it- “third parties” always found a way to leave her with nothing.  She initially entered the trade in a desperate attempt to feed her children.  Eventually she was promised a better life in Switzerland, but upon arriving she was forced into a legal brothel, suffering horrific conditions that nearly killed her.  She wept as she told me her story.

Yesterday, I read about your recent visit to a Brazilian brothel.  It broke my heart.

As a fellow Canadian, I believe that one is innocent until proven guilty- I realize that the media is not always correct, and that where there’s smoke there isn’t necessarily fire.  But if, indeed, you have been spending your time and money on commercial sex, I beg you, Justin, to reconsider.

A few years ago, I watched an interview where your mom talked about her childhood.  She opened up about the sexual abuse in her past, and the lack of worth she felt as a result. In her teen years, she caught herself thinking that prostitution would be an easy way to make money.  She didn’t go down that road, but she came close.  Your mom explained in the interview that she totally understood how young women in vulnerable situations consider prostitution as a viable option to survive.  A disproportionate number of people in prostitution are there because of lack of choice, not because of choice.

My husband and I just released a new documentary on trafficking and prostitution, and we actually considered reaching out to your mom – she’s been an amazing example of someone who overcame amazing odds to create a good life for you – and we thought she’d be a great advocate for the film and our mission.

Now take a moment to imagine if your own mother had entered the life of prostitution.  Can you even imagine it?  Chances are you would not be where you are today.   Really, really, think about it.  Homelessness, drugs, constant danger, an abused mother, maybe an abusive pimp, who knows.  You could have ended up, dare I say, exploiting women yourself.  Why would you want to do that to someone else’s mother?  Or daughter, or sister, or friend?  You’re bigger than that, aren’t you?

I once heard a talk by Andy Stanley to a group of influential leaders in Atlanta, and a question he asked has stuck with me for years:

What do you do when you realize you are the most powerful person in the room?


Justin, my hope for you is that you will begin to steward your power on behalf of those who don’t have any – maybe you were given this position for such a time as this.





Author Mark Buchanan Endorses RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT Human Trafficking Documentary

by Michelle Brock on October 29th, 2013

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Photo credit: Kurt Knock



The Website is Finally LIVE – (Check Out the Film Trailer Too!)

by Michelle Brock on October 21st, 2013

After much anticipation, I am excited to announce that the Red Light Green Light documentary website is now live!

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Red Light Green Light addresses a critical piece of the anti-trafficking discussion that is often absent: prevention.  Canada is currently reconsidering its prostitution laws, and a deeper understanding of this issue is timely and important for every Canadian who wants to prevent sexual exploitation.  Other countries are also weighing various responses to sex trafficking, making Red Light Green Light an important part of the global discussion.

Share the trailer on facebook and twitter   

Attend a screening

Bring the film to your community  

Become a city champion  



We’re excited to meet many of you at our upcoming events!










Unity in the Community – One “Weird” Thing We Can Learn From Finns on Skis

by Michelle Brock on October 17th, 2013

I’d like to describe two groups of individuals.

The first group is made up of people from various different nationalities, some working within their own country and others working on foreign soil.  They have a goal toward which they are striving, and are using all their skills and resources to provide for that vision.

The second group is made up of people from various different nationalities, some working within their own country and others working on foreign soil.  They have a goal toward which they are striving, and are using all their skills and resources to provide for that vision.

Sound similar?  Here’s where they diverge.

The first group is willing to work together as long as the job gets done.  They are masters of networking, they are organized, they are connected.  Each member knows their unique role and sticks to it.


The second group is sometimes willing to work together, though there is often a power struggle for credit and funding.  Many members are confused about their role, and burn out because they try to do everything instead of mastering something.

Who are they?


The first group consists of human traffickers.  The second group consists of abolitionists.

Obviously I am generalizing.  Traffickers are not always organized and don’t always get along.  Those trying to abolish human trafficking are often willing to work together.  But traffickers have something going for them that abolitionists do not have.  It is something that smooths over personality clashes and dissolves cultural differences.  It motivates people to stay united and work together.  It yields power unlike anything else.

The love of money.


Those trying to end human trafficking, however, do not have this powerful weapon on their side.  This often leads to organizations fighting amongst themselves for the same funding.  Many abolitionists are working day jobs or side jobs, hoping that donor funding comes in so they can provide just one more survivor with food and a place to sleep.  Donors themselves are feeling fatigued by requests for cash, and organizations are having to convince everyone why they deserve funding more than anyone else. As a result, the abolitionist community has in many ways become fragmented and disorganized.

Meanwhile, high demand for commercial sex is filling the pockets of organized crime.

So how do we mitigate this?

Finland WarI am from Finland, a small northern country that is sandwiched between Sweden and Russia.  About a century ago, Russia attacked Finland in what became known as the Russo-Finnish Winter War.  Despite Russia having significantly more troops, tanks, and guns, Finland had something Russians did not expect: skis.  The Finns were excellent sportsmen that fought on skis, giving them a unique advantage.  They successfully resised the attack.

It’s time the abolitionist community got some skis.  Figuratively speaking, of course.  Organized crime is driven to unity by money.  The abolitionist community should be driven to unity by love.  Here is how we can work toward this:

Build relationships.  If you are curious about the work of another organization, even if it doing the same thing as you, make a personal connection.  It is hard to ignore or dislike someone who becomes a friend.  When my husband and I were in Europe, we met with the head of the Swedish Anti-trafficking Taskforce as well as the head of Amsterdam Vice Prostitution and Human Trafficking Unit.  Despite having drastically different approaches and worldviews, these two men were willing to work together and learn from each other.

Give each other space.  If you attend an event for another organization, don’t use it as a platform to promote yours, unless this has been discussed ahead of time.  This demonstrates respect and builds trust.

Practice humility.  Don’t assume that you know everything.  Make it your goal to ask questions from others in the field.

Avoid slander.  This kills unity more than anything else.  Resist the urge to put other organizations down to make yours look better.  Let your hard work speak for itself instead of playing the comparison game.  If something in another organization concerns you, address it with them directly before advertising it to the world.

Know your niche.  Develop a razor sharp focus on what your particular piece of the abolitionist movement is, and stick to it.  This allows an opportunity for different organizations to lend each other a hand so that everyone does not have to learn everything, and can lead to a more efficient anti-trafficking movement.  It took us about 4 years to figure out ours focus.  The process was not passive, but a conscious ongoing discussion.  Here’s where we’ve landed:

Far-upstream, systemic, end-demand prevention of sexual exploitation via writing (articles, books, speaking, and film).


Let’s put on our skis, work together, and build a competitive advantage!







Premiere Photos!

by Michelle Brock on October 15th, 2013

Thanks to everyone who came to the Red Light Green Light film premiere last week!  You were a gracious audience as we battled with a sound system that was malfunctioning, and we’ve loved hearing your thoughts on the film this week.  This will help us make some tweaks as we continue.  The Red Light Green Light website is almost finished, which will have the info for our upcoming screenings.

Here are the photos from the night, taken by Karyn Louise Photography.  If you are looking for a photographer to do wedding, engagement or family photos, check out Karyn’s website to see her portfolio!

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Counting Down the Minutes!

by Michelle Brock on October 6th, 2013

For all of you who have reserved a ticket to the Red Light Green Light film premiere, we will see you in less than 48 hours!




12 Things I’m Thankful For (How About You?)

by Michelle Brock on October 2nd, 2013

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“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  

― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

October always feels like a New Year, doesn’t it?  Exactly one year ago, we were packing up our gear and booking flights to go film our documentary.  Twelve months have flown by.  And once again, the colours are changing.

Wrapping up the editing process and preparing for a film tour has made for an intense and exciting end of summer.  In these seasons of busyness, I want to take a moment to pause. As William Wadsworth says so succinctly:

“Rest and be thankful.”


1.  I am thankful for Dave, a dear friend and the editor of our film, who has endured many (very) late nights in the last couple of weeks to get this documentary to where it needs to be.

2.  I am thankful for the generosity and encouragement of Hope for the Sold donors, as well as every host that has opened their home to us during our travels.

3.  I am thankful for my co-workers at Well.ca, who spoiled me on my last day of work and sent me off with a heart full of encouragement and hands full of fair trade chocolate.

4.  I am thankful for our interns and friends, who are doing an excellent job setting up connections all over the country.

5.  I am thankful for design geniuses like Pete, amazing photographers like Jess and Karyn, and event-planning masterminds like Niki.

6.  I am thankful for a husband who keeps my chin up, keeps me organized, and always pushes for the impossible.

7.  I am thankful for our parents, Ari, Lea, Gord & Karen – as well as our third set of parents in this season, Gary and Leslie – who have given us counsel and resources along the way.

8.  I am thankful that we live in a trailer, so that we can keep our living costs low and have margin to pursue things that matter.

9.  I am thankful that we get to take our film on tour, so we can rally up support for preventative initiatives all across Canada and the U.S.

10.  I am thankful for Eric Fuslier, Dan Leytham, Tony Anderson, and Amy Nodwell, whose music sets the mood of our film.

11.  I am thankful for each interviewee that gave us their time.

12.  I am thankful for YOU, dear Hope for the Sold reader, for supporting us for all these years.

I am thankful for the beautiful colours of changing seasons.


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