The Human, Earth Project has long been a balancing act between drawing attention to raise awareness of human trafficking, and keeping a very low profile in the presence of traffickers and governments known to be hostile to foreign media.
I’ve long been aware of the risk that our anti-trafficking documentary, Sisters For Sale, could result in my being blacklisted from China, Vietnam, or both. I took what precautions I could to minimise that risk, in the hopes that a blacklisting would not occur while work remains to be done in the region.
It seems our activities may have drawn the wrong kind of attention, however, and now – at a crucial phase in the Project – I’ve been denied permission to return to China.
The head of the consular section at the Chinese embassy issued a command denying me entry on the basis that my motives are believed not to be touristic. There is no way of knowing if the decision was made independently, or if the command came from within China itself.
There’s now a distinct possibility I may never again be able to enter the People’s Republic. It’s the latest in a long series of challenges presented over the past months in a phase of the Project I hoped would be concluded long before now.
Post-production of Sisters For Sale has also presented a few challenges of its own, including files affected by hard travelling and malicious software, yet work progresses. Over the past weeks I’ve sifted through and sorted an immense amount of information collected in our many interviews.
From the formless mass of raw footage, a series of fascinating stories are slowly taking shape – stories of hope and loss and courage. There are stories of abductions, rescues and escapes, and our own story – a seemingly impossible search for a girl taken from her family and hidden away in the world’s most populous country. I’m very pleased with the way they’re all coming together.
Sometimes it’s just a matter of pushing on, putting one foot in front of the other, and waiting to see what’s around the bend.
If you haven’t already, subscribe here to receive all the news from The Human, Earth Project.