I had been thinking recently that I needed to do more with my mid-week evenings. Working mostly from home certainly has its benefits but it also has the tendency to turn me into a bit of a hermit from Monday-Friday. I then came across the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, taking place here in London from March 18 – 28, and I thought to myself: now here is an opportunity to support a worthy cause, learn about pertinent and real issues, and, above all, leave the house on a weeknight!
For those of you who don’t know, Human Rights Watch is a global organisation dedicated to protecting, you guessed it, human rights. A series of annual film festivals around the world serve to raise awareness of the abuses which are happening right under our noses. Through both documentary and fictional story-telling, the organisation reaches out to us about the issues it seeks to tackle on a day-to-day basis.
I skimmed the listings and one film in particular caught my eye – an art house film called Siddarth, directed by a Canadian Indian and based on a true story. The movie told us about trafficking and the risks of child labour from the perspective of the family who loses their child as a result of sending him to work at a factory in another city. It takes one through the journey of the parents piecing together what happened to their son, and their growing despair as they realise that he is simply untraceable. Life goes on without a Hollywood ending.
I am not a movie critic nor am I here to give you a layman’s review of the plot, acting, and cinematography. So why did this movie catch my eye out of a whole list of interesting features and why am I telling you about it here?
Perhaps it was partly because it was set in India, a country that I recognise has so much that needs fixing and yet I fell in love with instantly whilst volunteering out there last year. Perhaps it was also because it touched on an issue which I have become increasingly exposed to through my work with CLT envirolaw and our partnership with Finance against Trafficking.
The reality is that this movie isn’t just based on a single true story. It is based on many. Over the past few months I have heard a lot about the growing crime of trafficking, modern slavery and the worst forms of child labour. But thinking about it from this perspective –that of the family and their limited options– only served to reinforce my conviction: that there is a real need for businesses to act. Particularly in countries where poverty makes children even more vulnerable to the risk of abduction and forced labour, public sector resources are limited, and families of limited means have no one to turn to for help, businesses need to step up and fill a gap.
Do you really know exactly who your business engages and transacts with the world over? It’s a question worth asking yourself – Siddharth could be working for you somewhere along the line.
To find out more about how your business can help tackle trafficking in its supply chains visit http://www.financeagainsttrafficking.org/
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