Ten outstanding TV documentaries about children and their rights have been shortlisted for the 2015 Asia-Pacific Child Rights Award for Television. The issues and countries covered by the finalists include girl’s education in Pakistan, migrant children in Malaysia, and online sexual abuse in the Philippines.
The award has been run by the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union (ABU), CASBAA and UNICEF since 2001. It recognizes the efforts of broadcasters and producers in pursuing high quality children’s television and better coverage of children’s issues.
Here are this year’s finalists:
‘101 East: Japan’s Throwaway Children’, produced by Al Jazeera
Orphans are Japan’s neglected children. Most of them live in institutions, out of sight and out of mind. But calls are growing for authorities to overcome their reluctance to place children with adoptive families, an approach recognised in most developed countries as the best option for vulnerable and abandoned children.
‘101 East: Sabah’s Invisible Children’, produced by Al Jazeera
When security forces roll into Sabah’s villages, migrant children run in all directions. Hiding in the shadows are tiny figures – children born in Malaysia but citizens of no country. Growing up stateless, they cannot access public schools or health care. They are at constant risk of being detained and deported. With their families struggling to earn enough to feed them, some resort to sniffing glue to stave off hunger.
‘101 East: Stalking Cyber Paedophiles’, produced by Al Jazeera
Children in the Philippines are increasingly at risk of a dangerous new phenomenon sweeping the country – cyberpaedophilia, or webcam child sex tourism. For as little as $10, online predators pay Filipino children to perform sex acts over the Internet. Improved web access in the country has led to impoverished families seeing webcam abuse as a quick way to make money. Around 75,000 predators lurk online at any time, putting countless children at risk.
‘Flight of the Falcons’, produced by Infocus Asia
This documentary follows the remarkable journey of one schoolteacher and three of her students in Pakistan in their individual struggles against child marriage, corporal punishment, and societal pressures, in order to achieve a collective dream: empowering girls and women through education.
‘Get Real: Behind Closed Doors’, produced by Channel News Asia
In April 2014, a remote village in Northwest China became the center of media attention. Twelve preschoolers had been sexually violated by their teacher for more than a year. The youngest victim was four. In the last two years, China has seen over 180 cases of child abuse in schools. The perpetrators were teachers and principals. Seeking justice for the first time, parents of children abused in schools speak out in this programme.
‘Mukha: Musmos’, produced by ABS CBN News
This documentary exposes the grim reality of child labour in Philippines. Instead of focusing on their studies or playing like others their age, some children are forced to work to help their parents put food on the table. As a result, they are deprived of their childhood.
‘Mukha: Sagwan Faces: Paddle’, produced by ABS CBN News
Every day during the summer, thirteen-year-old John Lloyd Nacional sets out to sea early in the morning to catch fish in the Gulf of Manila. The young boy already has a great weight upon his shoulders. He can only hope for the coming years to be kinder to him and his family.
‘Reel Time: Bamboo’, produced by GMA Network
Almost every day, friends Daniel, Arjay and Emjay brave the dangerous mountains of Rizal to earn a living by cutting down bamboo. The 13-year-olds trek down steep slopes and alongside cliffs, with bundles of towering bamboo on their backs, nearly four times their height. These children manage to cut down the bamboo and carry it back into town, where it is sold for 10 pesos ($0.20 USD) a piece.
‘Undercover Asia: Cambodia’s Child Predators’, produced by Channel News Asia
Orphanages in Cambodia are big business. But instead of helping vulnerable children, many are doing exactly the opposite. This film focuses on foreign nationals posing as child protectors to hide their dark, criminal activity. By working alongside the NGO Action Pour Les Enfants, the production team gained undercover footage of paedophiles in action in Cambodia.
‘Undercover Asia: Girls for Sale’, produced by Channel News Asia
Thousands of girls across India are stolen from their homes and forced into sex work, purchased as brides, or sold into affluent homes as domestic slaves. This film follows anti-trafficking activist Rishi Kant on a search for trafficked girls. He goes undercover into brothels, placement agencies and fairs to see how trafficking works and expose the horrors these young children are put through.
In addition to the ten shortlisted programmes, there were also strong entries from countries including China, Fiji, Mongolia, Singapore and Vietnam.
“There are a thousand stories about children rights: the threats and risks to which some children are exposed and the ways they can be overcome so that each child can grow to her or his full potential,” Christopher de Bono, Regional Chief of Communication for UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, said. “When these are told using the potent storytelling that is the special talent of the best television news and documentary teams, children’s lives and stories come alive and communities and countries are inspired to take action.”
The award will be presented during the CASBAA Convention in Hong Kong, on 28 October 2015.
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