The three-part documentary series A Path Appears, (starting Monday January 26, 10 p.m., PBS) is a wrenching, often heart-breaking look into the real-life effects of global inequality. Covering topics including sex trafficking, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence, and child slavery, the series follows two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Nicholas Kristof, his wife Cheryl WuDunn, and several actor/activists on a journey across the United States and abroad. The series is based on the recent book, A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, co-authored by Kristof and Dunn. The documentary segments explore poverty and human vulnerability, and highlight the work of brave people dedicated to reducing those harms.
In honor of the series’ debut, Demand Abolition, My Life My Choice, and WGBH recently co-hosted a special screening of one of the early episodes. The segment chronicles the experiences of young women in Massachusetts forced into prostitution, as well as the innovative work being done to help them to find new opportunities beyond commercial sexual exploitation.
Ambassador Swanee Hunt, Chair of Demand Abolition, gave the evening’s opening remarks. She applauded My Life My Choice for supporting sex industry survivors and commended Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and the Boston Police Department for taking such a strong, public stance against the illegal sex trade, saying that their dedication has made Boston a national leader in anti-trafficking efforts. She also recalled her first meetings with Kristof where she urged him not just to expose sex trafficking and prostitution as a violation of human rights, but to remind his readers who is responsible: The sex buyers that keep pimps and traffickers in business with their money. Since then, Kristof has been outspoken on the topic of tackling demand as an effective means to fight prostitution, and he remains one of the abolitionist movement’s most visible supporters.
Ambassador Hunt addresses the crowd at the A Path Appears advanced screening.
Following the screening, audience members heard a discussion featuring Kristof, the series’ executive producer and director Maro Chermayeff, Audrey Morrissey of My Life My Choice, and Sergeant Detective Donna Gavin of the Boston Police Department’s Human Trafficking Unit. Moderated by WGBH senior investigative reporter Philip Martin, the conversation grappled with the huge costs faced by those trapped in the sex trade, as well as the struggles of the people who are working to help them exit.
Philip Martin moderates the panel discussion.
The discussion ended on an uplifting note, with panel members citing an example of how their work is wining the fight against commercial sexual exploitation. Morrissey spoke of making strides every day, one survivor at a time. Kristof and Chermayeff extolled the power of stories to change people’s perspectives, and thanked those willing to share their personal experiences. Finally, Gavin explained how local, state, and national law enforcement agencies were putting aside differences in protocol and jurisdiction to focus on the collective goal of bringing sex buyers and other exploiters to justice.
The inspiring evening echoed Demand Abolition’s core belief that through increased awareness and collaboration, we all can play a role in ending the demand that drives the illegal sex trade.
Please watch A Path Appears tonight, at 10 p.m., on PBS. For more information on your local listing, please click here.
For more coverage on the documentary, including a profile of My Life My Choice’s Audrey Morrissey, please read this article.