February 09, 2005

About the Film

Stolen Childhoods is the first feature documentary on global child labor ever produced. The film features stories of child laborers around the world, told in their own words. Children are shown working in dumps, quarries, brick kilns. One boy has been pressed into forced labor on a fishing platform in the Sea of Sumatra, a fifteen-year-old runaway describes being forced into prostitution on the streets of Mexico City, while a nine-year-old girl picks coffee in Kenya to help her family survive.

The film places these children's stories in the broader context of the worldwide struggle against child labor. Stolen Childhoods provides an understanding of the causes of child labor, what it costs the global community, how it contributes to global insecurity and what it will take to eliminate it.

Shot in eight countries (Brazil, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal and the United States), the film includes slave and bonded labor footage never seen before. It has framing interviews with U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (the leading legislative advocate for global action to eliminate child labor) and human rights advocates for children: Bruce Harris, Pharis Harvey, Inderjit Khurana, Wangari Maathai and Kailash Satyarthi.

The film shows best practice programs that remove children from work and put them in school, so that they have a chance to develop as children and also have a chance of making a reasonable living when they grow up. Stolen Childhoods challenges the viewer to help break the cycle of poverty for the 246 million children laboring at the bottom of the global economy.

Posted by galenfilms at 09:20 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Putting the Film in Context

The release of the Galen Films documentary Stolen Childhoods comes at a time when the world community is neglecting its commitments to children on a wide range of concerns.

A December 9, 2004 report from the United Nations Children's Fund says that more than 1 billion children - half of all the children in the world - are denied a healthy and protected upbringing. Many millions, the UNICEF report says, suffer from one or more kinds of extreme deprivation - inadequate shelter, poor sanitation, insufficient health care, little or no education, a lack of food.

This is the current reality, despite a landmark 1989 human rights treaty, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, in which world leaders pledged to improve the lives of children everywhere.

Hunger and malnutrition kill more than 5 million children a year, says a report from the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The spread of HIV/AIDS across the globe has created a generation of orphans - 15 million, by one estimate - who lack a protective layer of adult support. And worldwide, 140 million children, the majority of them girls, have never been to school.

A recent report from Oxfam, the international relief agency, says that in the decade ahead millions more will go without education or die needlessly unless the rich nations of the world increase aid, and cancel poor countries' debt. Aid budgets of the wealthy countries are now half what they were in 1960, Oxfam says. Meanwhile, poor countries are struggling to make $100 million a day in debt repayments.

Stolen Childhoods documents how some of these policies play out. For 246 million children, life is nothing but work. Wangari Maathai, Kenyan environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, says in the film, "Misusing children as workers is a form of murder. It's a slow death - a sentence of death that you are giving to the child."

As the film suggests, there is a difference between promises made over the years by international organizations and actual performance. One hundred thirty-five nations have signed International Labour Organization Convention 138, setting minimum age standards for employment. One hundred fifty nations have signed Convention 182, banning the worst forms of child labor. However, as the film documents, the abuses continue.

Yet it is not hopeless. Stolen Childhoods finds some progress made by individuals and programs in tackling child labor issues. Brazil has succeeded in cutting its rate of child labor in half with a range of programs including a highly effective educational subsidy for poor families.

Why is improving the state of children around the world an urgent matter? In addition to the obvious humanitarian reasons, Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) offers a practical one. "This is the breeding ground for Osama Bin Laden's army and for future terrorists," he says. "If we want a secure future for America and the world, it's not going to be enough to go bomb Saddam Hussein, or to get him out of power. If we don't get these kids into school and get them a decent education, we're going to have more terrorism in the future."

In Stolen Childhoods, Cristovam Buarque, a member of the Brazilian senate and former minister of education, suggests a "Marshall Plan for Children," patterned after the economic recovery program undertaken in the wake of World War II. "It would be so easy to have a social Marshall Plan, investing not in the economy, but investing in social areas for the children of the world," he says. "This would be easy. The money exists. All that is needed is for the world to want to do it."

Posted by galenfilms at 09:24 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2005


The following individuals are interviewed in Stolen Childhoods:

Pharis Harvey
Founder - International Labor Rights Fund

Kailash Satyarthi
South Asia Coalition On Child Servitude

Wangari Maathai
Kenya Deputy Minister of Education
2004 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Bruce Harris
Human Rights Advocate
Former Latin America Director - Casa Alianza

Inderjit Khurana
Ruchika Foundation

Senator Tom Harkin
Democratic Senator for Iowa

Posted by galenfilms at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

February 12, 2005

Stolen Childhoods Credits

Producer/Director Len Morris

Co-Director and Director of Photography
U. Roberto Romano

Executive Producer
Barbara Broccoli

Writer Georgia Morris

Composer Miriam Cutler

Co-Writer and Editorial Advisor
Mark Jonathan Harris

Co-Producer Jonathan Deull

Senior Program Consultant
Pharis J. Harvey

Petra Lent

Sara Nesson

Online Supervisor
Christopher Mara

Graphics/Assistant Editor
Jeremy Mayhew

Production Coordinator
Barbara Dupree

Posted by galenfilms at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)