Maple Ridge (British Columbia) Christian Reformed Church recently screened the documentary “Red Light Green Light” in an effort to educate church and community members about how people can be sexually exploited and what can be done to combat this exploitation in their city.
Tim Sheridan, pastor of the church, said that the event hit home in Maple Ridge. British Columbia’s first human trafficking conviction, just a few weeks prior to the screening, included the case of a girl from Maple Ridge, and there had been reports of attempted luring at the local high school. The event was attended by about 50 people from the church and community, including two city councillors.
The documentary follows two filmmakers across 10 countries as they attempt to discover how to prevent sexual exploitation. “We felt that this screening could be one step toward changing the tone [of the public discussion] and raising awareness about the exploitation of vulnerable women through trafficking into the sex industry and prostitution,” Sheridan explained. He said some attendees were surprised but grateful that a church was facilitating this discussion.
After the screening, a discussion was led by Rev. Mary-Lee Bouma, executive director of education and development at REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity), a Vancouver-based group working to end sex trafficking and to support the women affected by it. Bouma is the pastor of downtown friends, a Christian Reformed outreach ministry in Vancouver.
Sheridan said the discussion focussed on whether the city is implementing Canada’s new federal prostitution laws, and about how women are objectified and why their sexual exploitation has become “normalized” in our society. Participants also recognized that the issue needs to be addressed through the educational system in order to educate young people about the realities of this problem.
“I hope to engage with all the churches in the CRC about how to address the male demand for illegal sex and pornography, instead of solely serving the women who are exploited,” Bouma explained. “It’s not just a moral issue, but an issue of justice for women.”