The Day My God Died

Andrew Levine. Independent Lens. 60 minutes. Airs on PBS, Nov. 30.

Their stories sound like South Asian versions of the Marquis de Sade, but it’s not fiction. As Tim Robbins narrates, sweet-faced, teen-age girls from Nepal — former prostitutes in India rescued by a child-saving agency — describe the trauma of being kidnapped from their villages and imprisoned in Bombay brothels. They recall beatings and rapes to “break” them for sex with scores of clients a week. They talk of being infected with HIV, and preparing to die of AIDS.

These sex-trafficking abominations have been extensively documented by human rights monitors in the last decade. Hearing the innocent victims’ stories is infuriating, even more so on film than in NGO print. But for all its immediacy, The Day My God Died lacks vital context: It never mentions that Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, that rural Nepalese have little work or education, that grown women and girls alike “voluntarily” migrate to Indian brothels because their families desperately need money, that many aren’t kidnapped. And that adult women get AIDS, too.