MISSING has created a powerful and moving Public Service Announcement (PSA) to engage the public in the narrative around sex trafficking. We believe that they public are a key stakeholder in this issue as demand makers and their role is often underplayed or overlooked.

Artist’s concept:

Leena Kejriwal, the artist behind the MISSING campaign, believes in using art and new age mediums to engage the public, which has led to the creation of the MISSING public art works and the MISSING Stencil campaign. To build on this it became increasingly important to use the film medium as a way to reach out to a mass audience.

The idea behind the PSA was to do more than just to sensitize the populace on the plight of girls who are being trafficked for sexually exploitation; the PSA was created to generate action. By speaking to the public in such a stark way, the PSA hopes to change mindsets and take our cry to #EndDemand and #EndSlavery to an even larger audience.

About
the
PSA

The PSA gives you a brief glimpse into the life of a young girl in a brothel. After brainstorming many stories, this one was chosen. The story is of a young girl who is given hormonal injections and made to look older in order to put her out on the streets for prostitution. As a result of the hormones her face appears bloated and she is covering it up with a thick layer of make up.

When the girl first appears in screen you get the impression that she is much older. You see her getting dressed and putting on make up, preparing to sell her body. But all of a sudden the music changes and you see her face. One look into her haunted eyes and her emotionless face and you realise she is just a child. It immediately takes the air out of your lungs, leaving you feeling shocked and saddened by the reality.

Behind
The Scenes

Auditions:
After the story was finalized, many young girls were auditioned. The young girl you see in the video was selected as, from the moment she entered, she was deeply pensive and quiet. Even though the PSA is less than a minute long, the filming went on for over 6 hours and this little girl remained pensive the entire time.

Location:

To film the PSA an old calcutta home was chosen and then transformed into a brothel room. The reference for designing this room were the photographs taken by Leena Kejriwal in red light districts across Kolkata.

Set:
The room was then purposefully strewn with clothes and many packets were left lying about as people are often forced to live out packets.  A low light was brought in which left half the room in shadows. A high bed was also brought in as, in reality, everything is often hurriedly moved under the bed; the utensils go under the bed, the creche goes under the bed, even the baby goes under the bed.

Filming:
It was very important that the PSA provide a realistic representation of the harsh realities of the world of sex trafficking. For this reason it was very important to be careful so as not to over do the makeup or make the young girl look too well kempt.

One particular objection was that young girl was initially given long, painted nails. Girls who are forced into prostitution are forced to put on layers of makeup in order to look “beautiful”; they do not have the time to maintain manicured nails. After a lengthy discussion with the director and the make up artist the scenes including well manicured nails were removed from the film.

Further, it was important to highlight the conflict between the inner state of the girl and her surroundings. In the PSA you can see that everyone in the background acting normally and going about their day. Three individuals are talking and laughing, a man is walking away counting money, and in the room this young girl is enveloped in an eerie silence. The PSA tries to capture the juxtaposition of the normalcy and routine nature of the environment and the abnormal inner space of the young girls who are forcibly sexually exploited.

BTW