August 18, 2015 – 5:04 am

Being abducted is just a start. Next, it’s rape and torture as the victim starts on the road to being a sex slave in Yasuaki Uegaki’s Female Market: Imprisonment (1986). Stephen Tan reviews.

Human trafficking is the trade of humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Human trafficking represented an estimated US$31.6 billion of international trade per annum in 2010. Human trafficking is thought to be one of the fastest-growing activities of trans-national criminal organizations. - wikipedia

Despite its title, Yasuaki Uegaki’s Female Market: Imprisonment (1986) is not an expose on human trafficking per se. See it as a no-holds-barred women-in-prison entry. At the very least, it does show the abduction, imprisonment, rape and violence to make the victims, in this case - young women, sexually compliant, to say the least.

Office worker Miki is kidnapped while driving home one night. She awakes to find herself bound together with a several other women in a large room where a lavish meal is being set up. Dangling from the ceiling is a semi-nude woman. As the meal progresses, the woman is lowered from the ceiling. She repents the error of her ways and is ordered (by the Chief) to give guest Mr J a blowjob. After which, she really gags at the act. [Surprisingly, the women who are bound don’t seem to flinch at what they are seeing.]

The newcomers are led to a shower where they are ogled at by two men. The shower is just a prelude as three of the women are then raped - Yoshiko is raped in the dining room area as other female slaves are nonchalently having their meal; Haruyo is bound and hung up before being raped. Meanwhile, one of the guards stops one of the women from eating and has sex with her at the dining table.

For their initial defiance, Akiko gets punched; and is locked up together with Miki. Being starved lowers their resistance and Miki gives the guard a blowjob when he brings some food and drinks. It’s all a ruse as Miki bites off the man’s penis and the two women then try to escape.

Akiko is shot in the attempt and Mr J continues to have sex with her until she dies from her wound. Miki is whipped for attempting to escape and the Chief uses acupuncture to make her hungry for even more sex. A guard who has fallen for Miki escapes with her and the two hide in a hut at the pier. In the hut, the guard at first forces himself on Miki, who doesn’t really put up much of a protest, and the two end up with some passionate sex.

In the morning, the guard leaves, but not before asking Miki to wait for him. Miki returns to the warehouse where she was kept captive but everyone is gone. She returns to the pier and breaks down when she sees a crowd around a dead body.

For its time, Yasuaki Uegaki’s Female Market might have drawn attention for its brutal sex. The various rape sequences look painful and physically and emotionally scarring. And Yoshiko looks to bear the brunt of it, what with the whip handle jammed into her! Next to the rape, the rope hangings, the beatings and the whippings are nothing as horrific.

While human trafficking, very likely in ’70s and ’80s cinema, dealt with women and sex slavery [it’s only later that children get into the limelight], the focus is on the degradation and humiliation of women. Women are tortured into compliant sex slaves, and there are no two ways about it. Hence when Yoshiko is raped in the dining hall, not one other woman offers any help.

As if the subjugation of women in Female Market is not complete, the film piles on the sexual stereotypes that should make any present-day viewer gag - here, blacks and men from the Middle East are the biggest buggers of them all. Interestingly, the traffickers are shown to be fairly meticulous in choosing their victims - each woman is carefully selected because she has no other relatives who will miss her. On the other hand, the traffickers appear totally inept when it comes to securing or guarding their victims - the relative ease in which Miki and Akiko disarm their guard; and the way Miki and the guard get away.

Anyone looking for a message of hope in this movie can look elsewhere. While Miki manages to escape from the traffickers, she is however left with the knowledge that many other women are suffering in her place (and, at least, one has died). Truly, when it comes to the world of human trafficking, no one here gets out alive.

Unfortunately, Uegaki’s movie is more interested in the bludgeoning sex than in the actual plight of the victims.

Note: The Female Market: Imprisonment DVD is banned in $ingapore.

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