These Films Shed Light on Chicago's Gritty Side

Mary Mitchell, in her Chicago Sun-Times column, focuses on two documentaries about violence and sex trafficking that put Chicago's underbelly on display.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and President Obama (Getty Images)

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mary Mitchell discusses two documentaries about violence and sex trafficking that put Chicago's dark side on display. Too bad they aren't as available as Jersey Shore or Real Basketball Wives, because the stories could change lives, she writes.

With the release of two documentaries that feature former hell raisers, Chicago's dirty underbelly is on display.

That's a good thing.

"The Interrupters," follows ex-convicts who work for the anti-violence initiative known as CeaseFire, and opens at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Wednesday.

On Thursday at 8 p.m., OWN presents "Prostitution: Leaving the Life." The documentary features three former prostitutes who work for the Cook County Sheriff Department trying to persuade women to leave the sex trade.

A lot has been written about CeaseFire, so much so that attempts to reduce funding for this program always meet fierce opposition from legislators whose districts are struggling to reduce gang- and drug-related crimes.

But the sex trade is often perceived as a victimless crime, and prostitutes are viewed as deserving whatever hard knocks they get because of their low morals and even lower self-esteem. That perception makes it harder for law enforcement to justify spending the resources needed to crack down on sex trafficking.

Read Mary Mitchell's entire column at the Chicago Sun-Times.

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