More than a million Cambodians work abroad since closed factories have forced them to leave behind ghost towns and look for jobs in Malaysia, Thailand, and Taiwan. This sad and enlightening documentary was written and directed by French-Cambodian filmmaker Guillaume Suon who notes at the outset that nearly a third of Cambodians seeking a new life elsewhere end up in the modern slave trade.
"The Storm Makers" premiered on PBS August 31, 2015 and is available online for the month of September. It is part of the heralded POV (Point of View) series, America's longest-running independent documentary series and the recipient of a 2013 MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.
The documentary focuses on the plight of 16-year-old Aya who was sold as a maid but wound up being exploited and beaten by the man who purchased her. After escaping from him she was raped, enslaved by another man, and then sent to prison. When Aya returns home with no money, her mother wants nothing to do with her; the older woman is especially miffed that her daughter expects her to look after her infant son, the offspring of the man who raped Aya.
While Aya works for one dollar a day, Pou Houy is the very rich man who runs the recruiting agency which sold Aya and 500 other girls. He has no regrets about selling poor and illiterate women as slaves and is proud of his success as a businessman.
"The Storm Makers" presents both sides of the ethical disarray caused by the modern slave trade. The slaves are already victims of poverty which destroys the bodies, minds, and spirits of people. It savages and ravages their hopes and dreams and puts them in a prison of fear, danger, and despair. The wealthy entrepreneurs, called "Storm Makers" because of how their immorality wracks havoc on families and communities, seem to have no problem with profiting from human trafficking. In their quest for control over others, they are willing to do anything to satisfy their greed.