Not my Life, an independent documentary on child exploitation and abuse today premiered at New York’s Lincoln Centre. The film, which was filmed across five continents, looks at the devastating issues of child trafficking, sexual exploitation and child labour.
Not My Life features Dr. Nicholas Alipui, UNICEF Director of Programmes, and Dr. Susan Bissell, UNICEF’s Chief Child Protection, who provide insight into the key issues.
“It is important to bring global awareness to these issues. Trafficking of children is a grave violation of their rights, robbing them of their childhood, their well-being, and the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Dr. Susan Bissell. “Documentaries such as Not my Life are important, because they spotlight abuses that are otherwise often underreported.”
Child trafficking—often referred to as a “slave trade”—has many manifestations. A child who is trafficked is any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country.
At least 2.5 million people around the world are victims of human trafficking and UNICEF estimates that about 50 per cent of them are children. The true number of victims is impossible to document, as most children who are trafficked are forced into illegal and unregulated commerce, such as prostitution, or enslaved behind closed doors as domestic servants and in other clandestine work.
An estimated $32 billion worldwide industry per year, human trafficking affects virtually every country either as a source, a transit point, or destination. Children are trafficked both within and between countries for the purposes of forced labour, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, domestic work, begging, service to armed groups, and many other forms of exploitation.
Protecting children from trafficking begins with prevention—reducing the vulnerabilities that make children, families and their communities susceptible to exploitation in the first place. UNICEF, with its partners, addresses the root causes of trafficking, essential in the fight against this global crime, by taking into account all of the needs and realities that vulnerable families and communities face.
Recognized root causes include poverty; lack of education or employment options; environments that lack social and legal protection; and social and cultural attitudes towards children that allow for easy infringement of their rights.
Raising awareness and speaking about taboo subjects as done in Not my Life helps to bring protection violations into the open and are critical to empower families, communities, and governments to speak out honestly and take action against abuses.
Filmmaker Robert Bilheimer discusses ‘Not My Life,’ the first documentary to examine trafficking and slavery from a global perspective: