Nobel laureate Satyarthi’s film exposes India child slavery

Director Derek Doneen, left, and Kailash Satyarthi pose for a portrait to promote the film ‘Kailash.’
Updated 22 January 2018
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Nobel laureate Satyarthi’s film exposes India child slavery

NEW YORK: Forget jargon-filled monologues, raids to rescue enslaved Indian children inject drama into a documentary about Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who hopes the film will inspire viewers to play a part in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery.
“Kailash,” which premiered last week at the US-based Sundance Film Festival, charts Satyarthi’s rise from domestic anti-trafficking figurehead to Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Satyarthi, 64, whose charity Bachpan Bachao Andolan has been credited with freeing at least 80,000 child slaves in India over 30 years, said the film might shock audiences and spur them to take action such as refusing to buy goods made with slave labor.
“Many people have never thought that slavery still exists in its cruelest form,” Satyarthi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Sundance, the independent film industry’s premiere US gathering — now in its 33rd year.
“I always feel that consciousness-raising is the first step to societal change,” added Satyarthi, joint winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
In an early scene of the documentary, one of many filmed with handheld cameras, activists working under Satyarthi’s lead storm into a New Delhi apartment housing several child laborers. After one campaigner breaks down a padlocked door, his frantic colleague eventually unearths stunned-looking children from under piles of plastic bags where they had been hidden.
Filmmaker Derek Doneen spent two years shooting scenes with Satyarthi’s team, which the American director said had enabled him to avoid making a film dominated by data and talking heads.
“I didn’t want to make the sad child-slavery movie that you see and maybe it affects you but you don’t want to ... talk about it because it’s too heavy,” said the Kailash director.
Countless children across India are trafficked and enslaved every year — either forced to work or sold into sexual slavery.
About 60 percent of the more than 23,000 trafficking victims rescued in India were children in 2016, government data shows.
But activists say slavery figures are hugely underestimated in the socially-conservative society, where the fear of being blamed, shamed or stigmatized means victims and their families often keep quiet and choose not to report the abuses they face.
Worldwide, about 10 million children were living as modern slaves last year — either trapped in forced labor or forced marriages — according to the United Nations International Labor Organization and human rights group Walk Free Foundation.


Meet the woman who reunites Syrian pets with their refugee owners

Updated 10 min 57 sec ago
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Meet the woman who reunites Syrian pets with their refugee owners

  • The woman has helped transport 400 cats and 15 dogs into Europe
  • The foundation was featured in a Netflix documentary called Dogs

A Syrian refugee in the Netherlands has revealed how she is helping reunite stranded pets in war-torn Syria with their owners abroad, London daily The Metro said Sunday.

Animals Syria is a non-profit foundation that helps save the lives of pets in Syria and reunites them with their owners overseas, and is run by Rawaa Kilani and her friend Irma.

Kilani said before she fled Syria in 2016, she found an injured cat, that she named Lucy, and nursed back to health.

After fleeing to the Netherlands, she was approached by a woman named Irma, who had an unusual request which inevitably led to the creation of the foundation, Animals Syria.

Irma said she wanted to adopt a paralyzed animal, and asked Kilani to let her take Lucy.

Since then, Kilani and Irma have enabled the transportation of 400 cats and 15 dogs to Europe, and another 44 dogs to the US. Animals Syria also rescued some birds, foxes, a monkey and even a donkey.

Kilani said people who are fleeing Syria are usually unable to take their pets with them, because most of them are escaping the war on boats. So, they entrust their loved ones with their pets or leave them at foster homes.

After the owners settle in their new asylums, Animals Syria helps reunite owners with their pets by organizing the medical procedures and documents required for the transportation. Kilani says the process of vaccinating, micro-chipping and preparing the paperwork might sometimes require up to four months.

Most of the work of the foundation is done by Kilani and Bashir, who is based in Syria. Two volunteers help Syria Animals by feeding strays in Syria and two of her friends provide foster homes while the trips are arranged.

The foundation even starred in a Netflix documentary, Dogs, showing how they helped a dog, Zeus, reunite with his owner in Germany.

Kilani’s foundation focuses on disabled animals now, as they have lower chances of surviving in Syria.

When they just started, most of the expenses were covered by Kilani and Irma. Now, the foundation relies on donations, which are usually small and insufficient.

Animals Syria have a Facebook page, where they post stories of rescued animals and offer links for donations.