Vientiane 26 May 2006: Lessons of Life, a compelling television drama about a Lao teenage girl who is trafficked abroad, had its national premiere on Lao Television today. The original ninety minute anti-trafficking drama was produced to warn young people of the dangers they face and to stimulate awareness and discussion.
Lessons of Life is the result of an intensive collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Lao National Television, UNICEF and the Lao Art Media production company. “The Lessons of Life TV drama project is an expression of UNICEF’s ongoing commitment to advocate against child trafficking and help people understand the long-term damage it can do to the lives of children and their families”, said UNICEF Representative Olivia Yambi in advance of the premiere. “We are proud this innovative production brings together such a broad range of partners, and that it will reach audiences across the country.”
The TV drama is the culmination of the Be Smart Be Safe anti-trafficking media campaign which was launched in June 2005 to reach young Lao people. Be Smart Be Safe was developed following a series of youth consultations which revealed that trafficking is one of the five top youth concerns in Lao PDR.
The Lessons of Life drama storyline was developed from actual child trafficking case studies. The drama follows the story of Noi, a Laotian teenage girl whose family is facing financial and emotional problems. Noi is persuaded by a woman in her community to accept an apparently attractive job in neighboring Thailand. Once away from home, she realizes too late that she has been trafficked, and her hopes of a better life are soon shattered as she suffers both physical and sexual abuse. Noi finally manages to escape with the help of Thai and Lao authorities and, in the final sequence she takes a small boat across the Mekong river back to Lao PDR.
In addition to the TV drama, UNICEF is providing ongoing legal support to the Lao Government, including assistance in drafting a 2004 law which covers the trafficking of women and children. Currently, UNICEF is supporting the Ministry of Justice to develop Lao PDR’s first comprehensive children’s law which is expected to be adopted by the National Assembly by the end of 2006.
“All our cooperation is focused on supporting the Lao Government to create a protective environment for all Lao children. We are working to build awareness, and to ensure that the legal system is strengthened so victims’ rights are upheld, and exploiters are prosecuted”, concluded UNICEF’s Representative at the press screening for the TV drama in Vientiane last week.
The Lessons of Life TV drama was developed and produced with support from the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security.
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