Responding to "Sound of Freedom"

Monday, 28 August 2023 Responding to "Sound of Freedom" For Freedom provides strategic guidance, training, resources and support to equip SIM teams, workers, local churches and partner ministries to prevent human trafficking and see lives restored and transformed in the communities in which they serveSarah Scott-Webb is the For Freedom co-lead. 

By Sarah Scott-Webb

Last week I saw “Sound of Freedom”. Here is my response:

My name is Sarah Scott Webb and I co-lead For Freedom, the global anti-trafficking ministry of SIM International. I also serve on the World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission as their anti- trafficking specialist and am part of the World Freedom Network leadership team, developing the Oceania Freedom Network for our region. I write this as someone who has been involved in anti-trafficking for the past 18 years. 

“Sound of Freedom” has been receiving huge amounts of attention and media coverage since it was released in the US in July. It is a movie loosely based on events that happened in 2010 and tells the story of children being rescued from a sex trafficking ring in Colombia. It was released here on August 24th. But is it worth seeing?

My answer is “YES…..BUT….”

YES - because despite its flaws (of which there are many) it is raising phenomenal interest in – and awareness of - human trafficking and the urgent need to do something about it. More than 50 million people today have been trafficked into situations of slavery, and yet we don’t hear much about it in our media. Anything that is raising this sort of awareness has merit. So yes, go see it - because we need to be reminded and aware of the fact that this happens daily in our world, not just to children but to women and men as well.

But my recommendation of “YES” is a “YES… BUT”.

Yes see it - but understand the narrative in this movie sensationalises a very small portion of human trafficking and doesn’t give an accurate representation of what trafficking looks like. The majority of human trafficking is not sex trafficking; trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation accounts for just over 6 million out of that 50 million estimated total.

By far the largest amount of human trafficking (50%) is for forced labour – men trafficked and forced to work on fishing boats,  in construction or on our farms or orchards, women trafficked into domestic servitude or forced to work in sweatshops making the clothing we wear. And while children are also trafficked - 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children – most are forced into child labour; forced to mine minerals for our cell phones or harvest the chocolate we eat or forced to beg. People are trafficked into situations of forced marriage; they are trafficked for their body organs - there’s much more to this than sex trafficking of children.  Although it is very loosely based on a true event from 2010, remember it's just a movie, not a factual depiction of trafficking today.

My second 'but' is yes see it- but understand this is not what anti-trafficking looks like either. One of the biggest disappointments for those of us in the anti-trafficking sector is that yet again we have another movie with the narrative of a ‘lone ranger vigilante’ rescuing the poor defenceless victims.  Victims of human trafficking aren’t defenceless. They are some of the strongest, most courageous, and resilient people I have ever met. They deserve a better narrative than this.

When watching the movie, it's also worth knowing that less than 1% of all trafficking victims are ever rescued. By far the majority self-rescue - they escape on their own or are helped by local people. They are not reliant on an outsider coming to set them free.

This statistic also highlights the importance of the breadth of what anti-trafficking involves: prevention, caring for survivors, awareness raising, healing, advocacy, education, business…. there’s so much work we do in fighting this that has nothing to do with rescue. Rescues still happen, they are important, and they are still needed. But nowadays they don’t happen anything like we see in this movie. They don’t use children as bait for sex traffickers. They are done well, and in partnership with local law enforcement, with people on the ground who know and understand the context and the culture, and in a way that minimises the trauma involved in being rescued.

And my last 'but' is yes, go see it but do something in response. “Sound of Freedom” is a powerful movie, it pulls on your emotions, and it shocks. But my plea, on behalf of the 50 million people still in slavery, is don’t just go and see it and feel shocked and upset. Go and see it and commit to action. Do something about what you have seen.

Here are some suggestions:

1. LEARN what is going on:

o   Contact the team at For Freedom – we are happy to speak with your church about how they can respond (email

o   Join the Oceania Freedom Network and learn about trafficking in our region and ways we can respond (join on Facebook or email to sign up for our newsletter)

o   Visit Slavery Footprint and discover where slavery may be impacting your life

o   Spend 15 minutes googling trafficking in your area and talk with others about what you discover

2. GIVE to the work of For Freedom or another reputable anti-trafficking organisation (happy to provide suggestions in your area). For Freedom supports anti-trafficking work and workers in more than 20 countries and urgently needs funding. In Australia you can donate here. 

3. SHOP ETHICALLY. Most trafficking and slavery is for forced labour - and maybe in the supply chains of the products we buy and consume. We can make a significant impact by shopping ethically. Check the websites of your favourite shops/brands for how they are addressing slavery. Tearfund NZ and Baptist World Australia have great Ethical shopping guides to help buy clothing that is slave free.

4. PRAY for an end to trafficking, slavery and oppression. Pray for those who have been trafficked and those doing the trafficking. Pray for those involved in anti-trafficking, it is a difficult ministry and we need prayers of protection and strength. This is a spiritual battle that will only be won through prayer.

You could:

o   Join For Freedom’s prayer team – we send out prayer requests monthly (email to join)

o   Commit to praying regularly with a group of friends or pray-ers from your church For Freedom can provide a prayer guide (email

The Oceania Freedom Network is a new initiative of the World Freedom Network (World Evangelical Alliance), fighting human trafficking by building community and engaging churches within the Oceania region. Join us on FB or sign up by emailing 

Republished with permission from the Oceania Freedom Network. 

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