Trafficked – The Reckoning (In Distribution)


Trafficked – The Reckoning was the first film to go into production for FairTrade Films. It is a one hour documentary financed through SBS Television, Australia, Screen Australia, and Film Victoria.

The Story

Trafficked – The Reckoning is the inspiring story of a former police officer’s quest to find the man who enslaved a thirteen-year-old Thai girl in a Sydney brothel.  Ning was thirteen when she was trafficked to Australia from Thailand and sold to a Sydney brothel.  In 2007 she became the first slave in history to win victim of crime compensation. Jetsadophorn Chaladone, AKA Ning, was awarded $50,000 by the Attorney General’s Department of NSW for the multiple child rapes committed against her in 1995. This groundbreaking decision set an important precedent for the millions of sex slaves globally.  News of the ruling was reported around the world and featured in popular women’s magazines like Marie Claire, Madison and New Idea.

But the Australian man who imprisoned Ning for ten days and who forced her to have sex with over one hundred men was never arrested.  Ning remembers him well and he is mentioned repeatedly in immigration records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act but his name is blacked out.   So his identity is unknown, as the state or the Federal Police did not investigate the incident.  Shortly before Ning was apprehended an AFP operation to combat sex trafficking was closed down.  Chris Payne, who ran Operation Paper Tiger, was ordered not to investigate Ning’s case. He did, however, attend Immigration’s interrogation of Ning and was deeply moved by what he saw; a young child, crying and shattered by the horrific rapes she’d endured.

The documentary will adopt a ‘cold case’ approach. Payne still has a strong sense of guilt that he did not act on Ning’s case, that he did not defy his superiors, as was his habit, and have the courage to investigate the brothel owner who imprisoned Ning.   This is unfinished business for Chris, as it is for Ning.  She is now determined to discover the man’s identity and to bring a civil action against him in an Australian court for the psychological damages she suffered.

She has contacted Payne to help her with this matter, to find out the identity and whereabouts of the brothel owner.   Ning is a determined, tough and courageous young woman.  She risked her life in 1995, at the age of thirteen, by ignoring death threats and testifying against the three Thai criminals, one a convicted murderer, who trafficked her to Australia.  Their sentences ranged from fourteen to nineteen years.

Chris Payne, private investigator, will lead the investigation and attempt to identify and find the brothel owner.  Queen’s Counsel, Fiona McLeod, who helped Ning win her victim of crime compensation case in NSW, will advise on the legal issues and in the future act for Ning in the civil action.  With Britain recently commemorating the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery it is ironic that sex trafficking is one of the world’s most serious social problems. In 2010 sex slavery became the number one crime worldwide as the total market value of illicit sex trafficking grew to over US$32 billion. There are more slaves now, outright and per capita, than at any other time in history, and this statistic includes the western world.  1.2 million children alone are trafficked into brothels each year.

Trafficked – The Reckoning is a film for our times, but it is also a tough and suspenseful investigative documentary that takes us into the brutal underworld of the slave trade in Australia and Thailand.  It will grip audiences as they follow two remarkable people, Chris Payne and Ning, struggling to put to rest an incident that has haunted them for fifteen years.

Trafficked – The Reckoning screened on SBS Television, Australia in 2011.

Some Background

Ning’s moving story was first told in the documentary Trafficked. Trafficked sent shockwaves around the nation.and holds the record for the highest rating SBS Storyline Australia program proving that Australian audiences have strong feelings about the issue of slavery, particularly when it happens in their own country.

The program featured Chris Payne; a former Australian Federal Police officer turned private investigator.  In the 1990s Payne headed Paper Tiger, a special Australian Federal Police operation aimed at combating sex trafficking in Sydney.  For ten years, Payne had been haunted by Ning’s case.

He recalls, “She looked so lost and terrified, and she couldn’t stop sobbing. My heart went out to her. It was a sad, shocking sight, seeing a young girl who’d been raped by so many men.”

Ning was apprehended in a Sydney brothel in 1995 during an immigration raid and was rapidly deported.  Trafficked followed Chris Payne’s investigation into Ning’s heartbreaking story.  He found her in Kalasin, a small town in the North East of Thailand.  Following her deportation from Sydney to Thailand she was rejected by her family, lived on the streets and became a drug addict.  She survived several suicide attempts.  The young woman Payne found had rebuilt her life, married and given birth to a child.

Trafficked told Ning’s moving story and, as the first film to deal with slavery in Australia, was a powerful indictment of Australia’s shameful role in the international slave trade.

Once the film was screened two Melbourne barristers, Georgie Costello and Fiona McLeod SC approached Payne and the filmmakers and informed them that Ning could be entitled to victim of crime compensation from the NSW Attorney General’s Department. Acquisto, Zammataro and McLeod embarked on a difficult, two-year journey to assist Ning in applying for compensation for the crime of statutory rape – Ning, at thirteen, was a minor when she was forced to have sex with over one hundred men during the ten days she was held captive in the Surrey Hills brothel, therefore each act of sex was a rape.

Ning’s successful bid for compensation was filmed and will be included in this sequel to Trafficked. Together, the two documentaries, will present a rare longitudinal account of the damage that slavery has on children.