Unreported World TX: 22 Nov 2013, Week 47
8/8: Nepal: The Orphan Business, 22/11/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Unreported World goes undercover in orphanages in Nepal, where they discover that many children have been taken from impoverished parents, and used by orphanage owners to attract donations.
Reporter Evan Williams and director Laura Warner visit Thamel in Kathmandu, where tourists can volunteer in orphanages. There are more than 500 orphanages in the Kathmandu valley. As well as working as volunteers, every year foreigners donate millions of pounds to help orphans.
One former orphanage worker tells Williams about one orphanage that claims all the 80 children it looks after are orphans or abandoned. But he claims that when he worked there, 45 of the children told him that they had parents. In some cases he has met the parents.
He claims that the home’s owner is persuading poor, lower-caste families to give up their children with the promise of a good education. The orphanage owner then becomes their legal guardian and attempts to obtain their birth certificates and change their names. Having no birth certificates leaves parents unable to reclaim their children.
One mother who gave up her children tells Williams that the orphanage owner refused to give her children back and she alleges that they escaped only after a brutal beating. ‘The beatings started from the very beginning,’ she claims. ‘Her legs were beaten with a pipe and her toe was broken. They were told: “if you tell your parents you will be hung up and killed. We don’t care if we kill you because you’re not our children”.’
In a poor neighbourhood in Kathmandu the team track down a seven-year-old boy who tells them about his treatment at the hands of the orphanage’s staff. He claims all the children were beaten on a daily basis with sticks, belts and shoes, simply for talking, and if one child talked they were all beaten.
Williams meets a former US law enforcer who is investigating this orphanage and others. Alongside testimony from children, she has gathered accounts showing that it receives donations from a range of international donors, including more than £100,000 from one charity alone.
Posing as a foreign donor, Unreported World director Laura Warner visits the orphanage with a secret camera. She asks the owner about the two children whose mother the team met, and he tells her they are abandoned children that he rescued from the street. He does not mention the existence of their mother.
During investigations into how children arrive at the orphanages, one village comes up repeatedly. The Unreported World team visit Sindulpalchuk, in an impoverished area near the Chinese border. Families there say that they gave their children to a woman who promised them a better education in Kathmandu. Her name has come up before and Williams is told by NGO workers that she is instrumental in hundreds of cases of parents giving up their children.
Back in Kathmandu, a manager in another orphanage agrees to talk to Unreported World as long as his identity is kept secret. He claims that government district officials are signing false papers to make children look like orphans when they are not: ‘The village authorities sign fake death certificates for the parents. The District authorities then register the child as an orphan and send the child with the fake paperwork and we never question it.’
7/8: The Jungle Midwife, 15/11/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Reporter Seyi Rhodes and Director Wael Dabbous travel with a local midwife into the jungles of the Central African Republic where, after heavy fighting, rebels have overthrown the government and medical teams can reach areas that have been inaccessible for years. The Unreported World team discovers that the murderous Lord’s Resistance Army has used the recent chaos to relocate from neighbouring countries and is killing people and kidnapping children.
Olga Yetikoua is employed by the International Medical Corps and faces a daily struggle to save the lives of mothers and babies in a country that’s one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth. From a clinic base in the remote diamond-mining town of Bria in Eastern CAR she makes arduous journeys into the jungle to help women and babies who would die without her intervention. There is no electricity, no ultrasound and Olga can use only the drugs she can carry on her.
The scenes the team films are emotional and raw, but often uplifting. They’re always urgent. If Olga doesn’t reach a mother in time, the chances are she and her child will die. ‘The only babies that survive birth out here are the ones with no complications during labour,” she tells Rhodes.
As the Unreported World team joins Olga on treks and river crossings to villages hidden in the jungle they hear constant accounts of recent atrocities carried out by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Olga and the team discover villages full of refugees who’ve fled attacks by LRA fighters.
In this remote area the new government’s forces are thinly stretched and the LRA appears to be operating with impunity. The refugees are terrified, and when Olga examines their children she discovers many are malnourished and suffering from malaria.
They meet people who’ve had children or relatives kidnapped, another man who’d just escaped from captivity. The mother of one sick infant tells Olga how she narrowly escaped an LRA attack.’ If they see you, even if you're with men and children, they’ll take everyone. The only way to save yourself is to run.”
17 year-old Chancella Lobo tells Olga that as she fled from her village, she started to feel contractions but had to keep running. “They spotted us so we ran. I slept by the roadside and finally gave birth here’.
The film ends as Olga stops off at her clinic to pick up supplies before venturing back into the jungle, and receives an urgent call to treat a woman whose husband has recently been abducted by the LRA. What follows puts all her training and resolution to the test...
6/8: Egypt's Tomb Raiders, 08/11/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Reporter Aidan Hartley and director Alex Nott travel to Egypt to investigate the shocking effects the political unrest is having on the tourism industry. They find ancient archaeological sites being plundered by armed looters; people who previously worked as guides trying to survive without money or food and the corpses of horses and camels that used to carry tourists lying in piles in the desert next to the pyramids.
Egypt’s economy has always relied on tourism, but since the army toppled the Muslim Brotherhood in a bloody coup, tourism has collapsed. The Giza Plateau is home to one of the Seven Wonders of the World and it used to have 10,000 tourists visiting every day. Now, the Unreported World team finds it eerily quiet with the average number of tourists more like 10 a day.
At Giza, a once bustling tourist town, Hartley meets Emad Abu Zuba and his assistant Hima Abdurahman, tourist guides who offer camel rides. Before the crisis they did a brisk business but they can’t remember when they last had a tourist client. Hima hasn’t made any money for 14 days in a row and Emad says that people can’t afford to feed their animals any more.
He takes the team into the desert near the pyramids to show them the results. They soon come across several piles of up to 50 dead horses lying in the sand. Emad tells Hartley: ‘Today if you saw 1000 horses, maybe next month you’ll see 2000 of them. The third month you will see 3000 of them. One horse can feed one family. If you are going to count how many horses that are dead, it means the whole of that family has no money to live now.’
The collapse of law and order, together with the collapse in tourism, is having a devastating effect on the country’s archaeological treasures. The army and police have imposed a midnight curfew in Cairo, leaving the sites out in the desert unguarded. At the most famous tourist site in the world, archaeologist Monica Hanna shows the team how armed looters are now plundering the network of ancient and unexplored tombs and temples for treasure.
Every day brings a fresh discovery of looting. At the Pyramids at Darshur, which date back to 2600BC, she finds more evidence. ‘This place has never been properly excavated,’ she says. ‘We have no clear record of what has been lost.’
The looters are using high-tech sonar and heavy machinery to get at the tombs and the team investigate how they are getting away with it. The team meet a man who admits to looting. ‘I do this because I have no other option,’ he tells Hartley. ‘There’s no work. I need to support my family.’ He also claims that there is co-ordination between looters and the authorities. ‘I bribe them to let me dig,’ he says.
As well as greed, religious prejudice is also at work. Early Christian frescos have been defaced at Ansana, and even the pyramids are not safe. Monica tells Hartley that some of the Muslim Brotherhood extremists want to blow up the pyramids and Sphinx: ‘They said they are idols and they belong to a very bad civilisation and we have to blow it up,’ she says.
Monica has been gathering evidence about the looting to put legal pressure on the authorities to do something about it. Her lawyer has agreed to attempt to sue the Minister of Antiquities for failing to protect ancient sites.
Hartley talks to Tourist Minister Hisham Zazou, who accepts that looters have overrun the tourist sites. ‘We are going to ensure that the security levels in these areas will be lifted and heightened and I believe this is a talk that is going between us, the Ministry of Antiquities, together with the Ministry of Interior,’ he tells Hartley.
But it’s clear that the looting is still carrying on. At Ansana, where 1700 years ago Coptic Christians cut an incredible network of churches into the rocks, there are clear signs of recent dynamite holes. ‘This church may not be here next week,’ Monica says. ‘We could be the last people to take photographs of the place.’
Reporter: Aidan Hartley; Dir: Alex Nott; Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery; Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
5/8: India. Slumkid Reporters, 01/11/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Reporter Mary-Ann Ochota and director Suzie Samant travel to Delhi to meet the remarkable children who run the only newspaper in India campaigning on the problems that street children face.
Vijay Kumar, who’s 18, is the Chief Reporter for Balaknama, which translates as ‘Children’s Voice’. He joined the paper after being encouraged to learn to read and write by his mum, and has transformed himself from child delinquent to campaigning journalist. Vijay tells Ochota that he wants to give power to children whose stories don’t get told and who wouldn’t trust reporters from mainstream publications. ‘A child talks to us because we’ve also lived this life,’ he says.
Vijay wants to write about why street kids don’t have the same opportunities as everyone else. He’s keen to explore the barriers faced by children who don’t have official ID, such as being refused admission to schools that could help them escape life on the streets. ‘In the eyes of the government they don’t exist,’ he says. ‘These children are like ghosts.’
The team attend Vijay’s editorial meeting with his reporters: slum children from across Delhi. The story ideas for the next edition come from their personal experience, for example beatings by police or homes being flooded.
On the other side of the city, in the Sunder Nagari slum, the team meet Shanno, the Editor of Children’s Voice. Shanno worked in a garment factory from the age of 11 until she joined the newspaper and has worked her way up to editing it.
She’s finishing a controversial story on a proposed amendment to India’s child labour laws. ‘Our government recently announced that no child under 14 will be allowed to work,’ she says. ‘If the government does this then all the working children will reach a point where they starve to death.’
As well as Delhi, Children’s Voice covers stories in four other northern cities. In Agra, Ochota and Samant accompany a group of children who’ve secured a meeting with the city’s police to air their concerns. One tells the police representative that when a child is treated badly by an employer and makes a complaint, the employer can bribe the police not to take action. In response, the police tell Ochota that: ‘In India the police do not commit atrocities against children… There is not a single province where children are treated badly.’
The team return to Delhi to join Shanno and Vijay as they finalise the latest edition of the paper. For both of them, it’s their final edition as now they are 18 and are moving on. As they decide on the layout and order of stories, it’s easy to forget how young they are. Instead, their story and their achievements demonstrate that, when they’re given a chance, street children like them have a lot to offer to Indian society and the economy.
Reporter: Mary-Ann Ochota; Dir: Suzie Samant; Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery; Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
4/8: Mexico. The Abandoned, 25/10/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Reporter Ade Adepitan, director Daniel Bogado and a group of Mexican former hospital patients gain access to Mexico’s psychiatric institutions to secretly film the horrific and inhumane conditions endured by the thousands of men and women known as ‘The Abandoned Ones.’
Thirteen years ago, an investigation by Disability Rights International documented atrocious conditions inside psychiatric institutions in Mexico. The government promised to act and spearheaded the creation of a UN convention to protect the rights of the disabled.
Unreported World reveals that the situation for many patients is still horrific. Thousands have been abandoned by families who couldn’t afford the high cost of drugs or cope with the effects of their disability. They spend their days in deeply disturbing conditions, with nothing to do and no meaningful treatment or rehabilitation. Without families to help, it’s effectively a life sentence.
One group of extraordinary people is fighting to change the situation. What makes Colectivo Chuhcan unique is that its members are battling severe mental health difficulties.
Adepitan meets Natalia Santos, who has just been elected the group’s president. She suffers from schizophrenia and depression and was a patient in a mental health institution until 2012. Santos and the Colectivo have negotiated permission to visit psychiatric institutions to offer counseling to patients. They invite the team to join them and film. According to Santos, ‘People say that we are crazy, but the craziness is the conditions in which these people live.’
Unreported World accompanies Natalia and other members of her group to CAIS Villa Mujeres, an institution that holds over 380 women. Some have been held there for decades, abandoned by their families, with little chance of ever leaving.
Secretly filming, Adepitan and Bogado discover grim conditions. ‘This is just crazy’, Adepitan says, ‘There’s human faeces on the floor, flies everywhere, the stench is just disgusting. Even the patients are covering their faces. The whole place is a human toilet.‘
Adepitan discovers two women tied to wheelchairs. One is in pain and trying to free herself, but there are no nurses in sight. When a nurse passes by, she says she is one of two nurses looking after the 60 patients in the area. She reveals the two women are tied up from the moment they wake until 4pm. According to the UN, there can be no justification for the use of physical restraints on patients with psychiatric disabilities. Tying up a patient, even for a short period of time, constitutes at the very least an infringement of human rights, and for such prolonged periods, without clear rationale, could be tantamount to torture.
Later, the Unreported World team goes inside a men’s institution called CAIS Cuemanco. It holds over 300 men, again in terrible, unsanitary conditions. Adepitan secretly records staff who allege doctors and nurses do little to stop rape and sexual abuse among the patients. Human rights groups in Mexico have also gathered numerous reports of rape and sexual abuse in psychiatric institutions across the country.
Throughout the film Natalia Santos struggles with her own mental health. She knows the price for making these visits may be a relapse. She confides to Adepitan, ‘I imagine that people are saying things about me… Negative thoughts torture me. I can never have any calm.’
But when Santos holds a press conference to reveal her group’s findings, a senior Government advisor offers Natalia and her colleagues a chance to sit on committees that are meant to monitor the institutions. It’s a small step, but for people used to being written off because of mental illness it’s an important moment.
Reporter: Ade Adepitan; Dir: Daniel Bogado; Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery; Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
3/8: China's Lonely Hearts,18/10/13, 7:30pm Channel 4
Reporter Marcel Theroux and director Frankie Fathers join some of China's many millions of male lonely hearts on their search for a wife, and meet some of the ‘Love Hunters’ working to find them an ideal bride.
Modern China is a place of extraordinary inequality, including in the love lives of its citizens. Unreported World follows two characters who represent the contrasting paths to love in modern China.
Li Dongmin is 39, and desperate to find a wife. He epitomises the plight of China's unwanted bachelors; the men who, thanks to the one-child policy, are doomed to a lifetime of being single. Dongmin is a migrant labourer from a tiny village 1000 miles from Beijing. He works as a cook in the capital, and sleeps in a dormitory to save money for a new house back home. Being unmarried at Dongmin's age is a humiliation. In the village where he grew up, his mother weeps as her neighbours laugh at his inability to find a bride.
Theroux accompanies Dongmin to one of Beijing's unofficial marriage markets in the Temple of Heaven Park, where parents tout for potential suitors for their adult children. Dongmin suffers a stream of rejections from openly contemptuous parents: he's too poor, he’s insufficiently educated, and he has no property in Beijing.
And there's a deeper reason for his failure to find a wife: the huge surplus of unmarried men in China. China's eligible women are relatively scarce, and like any rare item, they command a higher price in the marriage market. For 30 years, China has been conducting a vast, unintended experiment in sex selection. Ever since it became possible to determine gender in the womb, Chinese families have been illegally aborting girl foetuses. The result is a generation of men like Li Dongmin. By 2020, China is predicted to have 24 million marriageable men without partners: men whose future wives were never born.
Unreported World also films with 30-year-old Rong Na, an elegant and vivacious ‘love hunter’, employed by an agency called Diamond Love and Marriage to find wives for some of China's richest men.
Rong Na combs Beijing's shopping malls for attractive women. She’s picking potential wives for a client she refers to as Mr X, who’s very rich and can afford to be extremely choosy. She declines some women for being ‘too average,’ ‘too common,’ ‘too short,’ having eyes that are ‘too droopy’ or for not walking ‘like a university graduate’.
The ones who make her shortlist are invited for further vetting at her office, where they’re examined in more depth. Her colleagues are witheringly frank about one woman: ‘skin not white enough; features not elegant enough.’
With bonuses to earn and clients to please, Rong Na is soon back at the mall, scouting out more women. At the same mall, on the ground floor, Li Dongmin's search also continues. He's at a free singles event, organised by China's biggest online dating service. Men outnumber women and Dongmin lingers uncomfortably on the sidelines. Finally, he plucks up the courage to chat to a few women; he even gets some phone numbers. He'll continue his search for a wife, but with more hope than expectation. He knows the odds are stacked against him.
Reporter: Marcel Theroux
Dir: Frankie Fathers
Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery
Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
2/8: Venezuela's Kidnap Cops, 11/10/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
Reporter Kiki King and director James Brabazon travel to Caracas, the kidnap capital of the world. With exclusive access to the Venezuelan police force’s elite Anti-Kidnap Squad, the Unreported World team follow officers as they fight back against the kidnap gangs with a mixture of brute force and technical ingenuity.
More than five people are kidnapped in Venezuela every day. The country is awash with illegal firearms, with a politicised and barely-functioning judicial system and prisons effectively run by the gangster inmates.
The Unreported World team travel with Police Inspector Hector Ramirez, a hardboiled cop leading the Anti-Kidnap Squad. He’s a telecoms specialist: his main weapons in his battle with the abductors are his 9mm pistol and the criminals’ mobile phones.
King and Brabazon join Hector as his team speed across Caracas in a race against time to free a 27-year-old woman snatched from outside her home. The kidnappers are demanding a small fortune for her release, but by tracing the calls and tracking the mobile phone signatures that the gang leave behind, the squad discover that the kidnapper is already in jail for murder.
Co-ordinating his gang from behind bars by mobile phone, the leader, nicknamed ‘The Wizard’, is effectively untouchable inside Venezuela’s violent and corrupt prison system. But by tracing their mobile phone records, Hector can find and storm the kidnapper’s home, and free the victim. ‘Without mobile phones, the kidnappers are ghosts,’ Hector tells King. ‘We turn the ghosts into people we can go out and capture either during, before or after a kidnapping.’
With an estimated 2000 kidnappings taking place across the country in 2012, Hector and his unit have their work cut out. Kidnapping has become the easiest and safest way for Venezuela’s criminals to make a living. It was once mainly a worry for wealthier residents, but now anyone can fall victim. The Unreported World team witness another kidnap negotiation unfold, as a car mechanic struggles to pull together £500 to free his business partner.
Hector is now battling a new breed of kidnapper. The hunt is on for ‘El Viejo’: a convicted murderer, escaped convict and serial killer who, unlike most kidnappers, is said to kill most of his victims, whether the ransom is paid or not.
King and Brabazon follow the unfolding drama as the squad use a combination of stakeouts, forceful interrogations and mobile phone signals to pinpoint El Viejo’s location and launch a massive operation to capture him. As SWAT teams and dozens of armed police swoop on the slum where El Viejo is hiding, Hector leads his men into a decisive confrontation, for his unit, and for the beleaguered city of Caracas.
Reporter: Kiki King
Dir: James Brabazon
Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery
Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
1/8: Afghanistan's Hunted Women, 04/10/13, 7:30pm, Channel 4
In the first episode of a new series of award-winning Unreported World, reporter Krishnan Guru-Murthy and director Wael Dabbous travel to Afghanistan, gaining rare access to the secret houses that shelter women hiding from violent husbands or from families who have tried to kill them for refusing to take part in arranged marriages.
Improving women’s rights was supposed to be one of the great legacies of Britain’s involvement in Afghanistan, but Unreported World reveals that, as international forces start to pull out, powerful religious hardliners are trying to roll back new laws that protect women.
Guru-Murthy talks to 22-year-old Zarghona, whose family tried to marry her off to a man in his forties. She tells Unreported World what happened when she refused. ‘They led me into an orchard. My father checked that nobody was around then he took out a knife. He stabbed me three times in my back, twice in the sides and twice in the stomach. He stabbed me 16 times in total. Then my father slashed my throat. They covered me with a sheet and placed a stone at each corner and left me to die.’
The team also meet 15-year-old Sahar Gul, who was sold into an arranged marriage at the age of 12 and terribly abused. When she was rescued two years later, she was barely alive.
Her fingernails had been removed; her flesh had been pulled with pliers and her hair torn out. Television pictures of her horrific injuries made international headlines and she became a focus for international campaigners.
In a rare case of justice for a victim of this type of crime, members of her husband’s family were jailed for ten years for torturing her. However, in an illustration of the injustice she and similar victims can face, once the glare of international publicity died down, her in-laws were freed, having served just 18 months of their sentences.
She is now working with a lawyer trying to get them sent back to jail but in the meantime tells Guru-Murthy that she’s living in daily fear: ‘I’m scared that if I go outside they will kidnap me again and take me back to that horrible place.’
Traditionally, women fleeing violent husbands have been falsely accused of adultery and jailed, and many still are. Women’s shelters became legal in Afghanistan following the passing of a new law to tackle violence against women, but religious conservatives are now trying to overturn the law and close the shelters down.
Qazi Hanafi is a hardline MP in the Afghan parliament. He spearheaded the opposition to the laws to protect women from violence. He tells Guru-Murthy: ‘All of the bad people who want to sin end up in those places. They are considered places of ill-repute. A woman should only have one husband. Otherwise we will suffer the scourge of Aids, which is destroying the West.’
He seems unprepared to listen to those campaigning for women’s rights: ‘To those women who say that I am taking them back to the Dark Ages, I say there is no doubt that you are infidels and worse still you are corrupting others. We will fight you like we fought the Russians.’
Reporter: Krishan Guru-Murthy; Dir: Wael Dabbous; Series Editor: Suzanne Lavery; Prod Co: Quicksilver Media
Past TX Information