Image courtesy of Brian Avery (Avery Images) / Childreach
On Wednesday evening I had the privilege of attending a private screening for a new movie being released in the UK next year. Sold (based on a Patricia McCormack novel) stars Gillian Anderson & David Arquette and tells the story of a girl called Lakshmi who is trafficked from her home in rural Nepal to a brothel in India.
Northumbria alumni Dr Tshering Lama Country Director of Childreach Nepal, was there for the screening and joined by Director/Writer, Jeffrey D Brown and Producer, Jane Charles via live video link from the US to discuss Childreach’s Taught Not Trafficked campaign immediately after the movie.
Image courtesy of Brian Avery (Avery Images) / Childreach
The movie has beautiful scenery of Nepal; the opening scene accompanies that with a very well chosen piece of music depicting happiness while the children run. The girl lives with her parents, her father struggling to find work. Lakshmi wants only to fund a tin roof for her family home. We see a smart girl in the vulnerable poverty trap. Her mother tells her, at one point, a lovely quote I wrote down “All joy in life comes from giving to others and all misery from only thinking of yourself”
The movie follows family life and the act of trafficking in the familiar model of offering the girls’ family a better life in the city for their daughter, and about 20 minutes in the “fresh mountain flower” as she’s called gets made up – this is where the discomfort really starts.
This movie is meant to highlight an issue, to raise awareness and, where possible, funds about the serious issue of child sex trafficking. There are serious representations that are factually correct throughout the movie as the 13 year girl undergoes rape and beatings. At one point about 34 mins in there’s a scene very similar to a Hope For Justice video I’ve seen, with her lying on a bed, man after man after man, zipping up and leaving. The dark phrase while she’s getting washed “I still smell them they’re not washing off” resonates and gives some insight into a victim’s mind-set.
The movie mentions the huge debt with interest and touches on girls being unable to be accepted back home for the shame, it represents the health risks of aids and also the hard hitting reality that children and babies can be born into and brought up into this atrocity. Not an easy watch but in what I know about human trafficking and sex exploitation the world over this seems to depict the “typical” for want of a better word, story, for so many.
After watching the screening Dr Tshering Lama, Country Director of Childreach Nepal spoke. Talking of how lucky he was to be blessed with an education, he talked of a calling and with meeting Jane and Jeffrey, he’s had this opportunity and his challenge in building 100 classrooms in Nepal. He remembers as a child in a village always being told of girls going to “work in the city”.
Tshering spoke of the earthquake in Nepal and 270 in the school after earthquake only 70 – some rescued in Delhi some on Nepal border
Jeffrey & Jane got involved in making the movie in 2007 after reading the book, it was only then they started learning about trafficking as hadn’t heard much about it till then. They made 6/8 trips to Nepal and India and met many survivors, hearing their stories they knew they wanted it to be a narrative movie not a documentary Jane says “you carry each of these girls with you”.
Sold the movie is due for release U.S. early March and soon thereafter in the UK. They will partner with ChildReach to rebuild a hundred 40,000 classrooms destroyed in Nepal earthquake with the #TaughtNotTrafficked campaign. Each classroom will cost ______. Children are 80% less likely to be trafficked if they are kept in school till 16 and 75% of girls drop out when they hit puberty so it’s not just classrooms it’s things like girls only toilets – It’s sometimes an hour walk. Could they have lunch provided at school? – Childreach is looking into how to keep children safe at school and getting teachers educated and trained to be child friendly- The Classrooms are also emergency shelter if another earthquake happens and each School will have a health centre. Tshering knows the value and wants to create a sense of belonging and community where the parents can come to the school for things.
The discussion was very informative hearing about a module being worked on and translated into Hindi and Nepalese that helps with rehabilitating sufferers of PTSD. We heard about Hope House (the rescue shelter in the movie) being an actual place in process of building outside Calcutta, a boarding school for 100 children and mums if they want to leave prostitution. They hoping to create many more of these in the near future as well.
Last year the movie was taken to Kathmandu – Tshering set up a panel with UNICEF and a screening with NGO’s, VIPs and survivors and ministers. The Minister of communications and head of a big bank in Nepal then started talking about trafficking. It gave them a platform – people in government making it their own issue can only be a good thing. Jeffrey mentioned the Swedish model (the Nordic protocols which were also mentioned in the Nefarious documentary). Sweden has almost eliminated trafficking. They offer rehabilitation for survivors and prostitutes along with physiological counselling – their good legal system enables them to prosecute the buyers and pimps. That needs to happen everywhere. Customers need to be prosecuted or physiologically healed themselves. So many have been abused and traumatised.
A question was raised about the demand side of the chain the movie demonstrating the supply side so well. The U.S. are looking at demand, in the way of education. Ashton Kutcher is co-founder of Thorn looking at online safety and porn. Online transactions are being looked at everyone joining up to look at it together including FBI and police forces. Every country needs to say no to this. It is international and across borders in its very definition. Community muscle will make the difference we need to demand the change
The movie has opened at many Indian film festivals –it’s main audience likely to be US and Europe but it will be distributed globally – it’s easily dubbed and easy to add subtitles in it. It has big names for both western, Indian and Nepal audiences and the desire is for it to influence young people – English reaches widest audience.
The classrooms… Here’s the facts…
It’s £2500 for 1 classroom catering to 50 students.
They want 100 classrooms but the campaign is 1 classroom at a time!
They already have a major paint distributor in Nepal giving paint for 560 classrooms, people are running marathons and half marathons and even a 9 year old in U.S. gave $300 dollars and asked would it save a life and build a classroom!
The whole evening was really informative and eye opening even for those familiar with the subject it is good to be reminded of the intricacies and the link to natural disasters as well – this atrocity does happen everywhere the facts and statistics about victims and number of success prosecutions are astounding. Each year the TIP report gets published and helps categorise countries and their efforts. Charities across the globe fight against this injustice it takes us thinking about the one – it takes us all realising we can all do something and it takes us all doing it – together!
Huge thanks to Wendy & Brian Avery at Northumbria Uni and Avery images and also to Jane and Jeffrey for help with this post.
If you can please visit the websites below and see if you can help the campaign or certainly if you are in the US or UK look out for the movie next year
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