In a cosy university town, imagining a world where domestic and sexual slavery takes the place of education and where children are forced into adulthood, is not easy to comprehend. It is something that spreads beyond this town. Only 8% of the UK population are aware of the ongoing issue of slavery in the world today.
To many in Britain, ‘slavery’ remains a word relegated to a shameful aspect of our history, but to 20,000 girls each year in Nepal, this ‘slavery’ is a reality. And this is not a declining tragedy. Since the earthquakes in 2015, it is estimated that human trafficking between India and Nepal has increased by 300%. To raise awareness of this monumental human rights issue, Childreach will be coming to 12 cities across the UK to speak about their Taught, Not Trafficked campaign, followed by a special screening of SOLD.
St Andrew’s is one of the few fortunate communities offered the opportunity to take part in the Campaign and view the film ahead of its release to the UK. The film, directed by Academy Award winning director Jeffrey D. Brown, presents a story about the resilience of the human spirit. It follows a young girl, Lakshmi, who leaves her quiet village in the Nepali Himalayas in the expectation of a job in the big city of Kolkata. Her hopes are not to be realised, as she finds herself trafficked into a prison brothel, struggling against the odds to survive. With the help of a US photographer (Gillian Anderson) she will risk everything for her freedom. Films have an extraordinary power of mobilising local communities into action. Enveloping you into a world you could barely imagine, to feel the pain, the suffering, but most importantly hope. This might be a tale of resilience, but it is also a clarion call to action.
Through the film and the preceding panel discussions, Childreach are endeavouring to rouse awareness of this horrific crime, and its root cause. Research has found that keeping a child in school is the best way to prevent child trafficking, with evidence suggesting that if a child stays in school until they are 16 years old, they are significantly less likely to trafficked or exploited. Childreach has been working tirelessly to in the aftermath of the earthquake in India in Nepal, to protect children from the same fate as Lakshmi. Since 2015, they have opened 86 classrooms across 12 schools, allowing 2,082 children to return to school.
However, they are fighting a continual battle not only to open schools, but keep children in them. Approximately 80% of all trafficked children worldwide are girls. This is a vulnerably group, facing the challenge of low quality education combined with a lack of respect for educating girls. A lack of sanitary materials and facilities, has turned menstruation from a normal female bodily function into an obstacle, causing many girls to refuse to attend school at this time. By the age of 14, most girls in rural Nepal have left school. This is a statistic Childreach is fighting to change for the better with the support raised from this Hollywood-charity partnership.
Tiffany Watts, Executive director for Childreach International, explain “through SOLD we hope that our drop becomes a ripple and then a wave of change as others join us in the fight against trafficking.”
The film screening takes place on Thursday 26th January at 7pm at The Byre. Ticket can be brought here (admission is free).