Leading children’s charity ECPAT UK will mark today’s Anti-Slavery Day (18th October 2017) with the release of an animated film aimed at tackling the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation.
The Secret Gardeners, created by Ruth Beni of Animage Films and Oscar-nominated animator Erica Russell, aims to inform professionals about the plight of children who are forced by organised crime gangs to grow drugs in houses across the UK but who often face criminalisation and prison.
It is hoped that the film, which is based on real-life experiences of children ECPAT UK has supported, will also educate members of the public who use cannabis about the ‘dirty’ supply chains of marijuana that may include child exploitation.
In 2016, there were 227 Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. From In the first six months of this year alone there have been 169 referrals of VN children into the NRM, making it the top country for children being trafficked into the UK.
The film will be premiered in London’s historic Frontline club on October 17th 2017.
The Secret Gardeners will also be launched in Vietnam in partnership with the Pacific Links Foundation as part of an innovative education programme in schools to help prevent young people being trafficked.
Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at ECPAT UK, said: “ECPAT has been receiving referrals about children from Vietnam exploited in cannabis cultivation for more than a decade yet this is still a shock to many who use marijuana in the UK. I think many people are unaware of the exploitation in cannabis supply chains and will want to consider the providence of their drugs in the future.
“In our experience, many vulnerable young people from Vietnam are treated as criminals before they are seen as victims of modern slavery, which only retraumatises them and makes it more difficult to gain their trust. We want this film to help inform frontline workers about the rights of child victims of trafficking, as well as to reach out to children in Vietnam who may be at risk.”
Ruth Beni, Director of Animage Films, said: “In creating awareness and prevention campaigns, using animation has proved to be a very effective way to convey the heart-breaking, often harrowing stories of real trafficking victims in an engaging and accessible form.”