Operation Big Sister
The 60th meeting of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women highlights NGOs and civil society’s involvement in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. The sessions showcased a variety of viewpoints and the work that is being done towards eradicating major issues we still face today while addressing them within the context of the SDGs.
The interactive panel discussion entitled What Will It Take to End Human Trafficking? The Role Media Plays & A Rarely Heard Voice for the Trafficker’s Perspective offered a unique perspective on the impact media has on perpetuating gender inequality through sexual oppression, human trafficking, and child marriage, and ways to help reverse the impact by utilizing media to make a difference.
An empowering project, led by session moderator and film producer Sheva Carr and co-producer Fred Fauchs, offers an innovative grassroots approach that opens the door for media coverage, in the form of a film and documentary putting a “spotlight” on trafficking in efforts to help stop it worldwide.
The story of the underground movement called “Stóra systir” (Big sister) begins with women in Iceland organizing themselves and taking on the issue of human trafficking. Icelandic women fought for 10 years to decriminalize women and criminalize the traffickers. In 2009, a law was put in place, but the argument was always the same when it came to implementation, “It’s the oldest profession in the world, it will not easily change”. The woman decided that if normal vectors of change do not want to budge, then they needed to do something else. They took out ads as sex workers, and when “johns” called, the voice on the other end responded with “This is your big sister watching you”. Soon this underground movement of women, and even men, responding to calls, taking down names, phone numbers, and sending “johns” to the home addresses of police officials became widely known. Gaining major attention, this story of heroic, creative and forward thinking women, helped bring this topic to the forefront, which led to the idea of making it a feature film, accompanying it with a documentary and an educational curriculum.
We are at a point in human history where technology, media, in particular, takes on a very important role in influencing people’s perceptions and educating many on issues that they either know little of or were not aware existed. The message highlighted in this session is that media and technology can and should be utilized as powerful tools that help destabilize the sex industry. These types of projects, movies, and educational platforms can inspire and empower millions of people.