|© Courtesy of ‘Les inséparables’|
|Promotional still from the film series ‘Les inséparables’.|
By Reine David-Gnahoui
COTONOU, Benin, 10 July 2007 – ‘Les inséparables’ tells the story of brother and sister Yawa, 12, and Abi, 9, who are sold to a female child trafficker by their father without their mother’s knowledge.
At the time, the siblings are living in a small village with their parents. Yawa is learning to be a dressmaker and Abi goes to the village school. Heartbroken at the disappearance of her children, their mother leaves the village to search for them. Her quest leads her to the Police Children’s Protection Unit, where she finds people willing to listen to her story and help.
The story is told in a series of four short films, written and created in Benin by director Christiane Chabi Kao, and co-produced by – among others – UNICEF and the Beninese National Radio and Television (ORTB), which will broadcast all of the episodes.
Films’ launch raises awareness
The ‘Les inséparables’ series was officially launched on 28 June at the French Cultural Centre in Cotonou by the Minister of the Family and the Child, Clemence Dansou Gnimbéré; ORTB Managing Director Julien Akpaki; and UNICEF Representative in Benin Philippe Duamelle. The series’ director was on hand as well.
The launch capped a series of activities conducted last month to raise awareness about the theme of the Day of the African Child 2007: combating child trafficking.
Traditional leaders and dignitaries, programme partners, members of the Children’s Parliament and media representatives attended the opening. The production’s two young stars, Imelda Houssinou (Yawa) and Arol Gbetofia (Abi), participated in a question-and-answer session that followed the screening.
Trafficking as a global phenomenon
Every year, thousands of Beninese children and 1.2 million young people across the globe are victims of trafficking – 300,000 of them in West and Central Africa alone.
“Child trafficking is a global phenomenon of unprecedented magnitude. It’s one of the major human rights violations in the world today. No country in West Africa is spared from this scourge,” said Mr. Duamelle.
“In a state of law such as the Republic of Benin, child trafficking can no longer be tolerated nor considered as trivial,” he added. “In addition to being an intolerable human rights violation, child trafficking jeopardizes the development of Benin and tarnishes its reputation overseas. This is why UNICEF is pleased to see this phenomenon denounced by a Beninese director, whose commitment to promoting children’s rights UNICEF has been happy to support.”
‘The suffering of all these children’
Added Ms. Dansou Gnimbéré of the Ministry of the Family and the Child: “To protect children and their rights is of utmost importance because children are naturally more vulnerable than adults and represent the future of the social and political community. This film strengthens the range of existing materials used to raise public awareness on the issue of child trafficking.
“To hear is one thing, but it’s quite another to see how deep is the suffering of all these children who are far from their home, from their village, and isolated from their parents.”
Child trafficking fact sheet [PDF, opens in a new window]