Malaysia's Invisible Children| 12mins
Director: Rebecca Sweetman | Producer: The Paradigm Shift Project
Focus Years: 2010 | Country: Canada
Malaysia is one of Southeast Asiaâ€™s most developed nations, and yet is home to some of the most marginalized children in the world, whose rights are far from recognized or upheld. These children are stateless, refugees, and/or street kids. Roughly half a million children between the ages of six and 18 roam Malaysia's streets every night, while 18,600 child refugees seek shelter. In the red light districts of Kuala Lumpur, these kids face sexual abuse, imprisonment, deportation, and human trafficking. This film features the work of local grassroots NGOs, often operating illegally when their own government won't support their work to create safe havens for local children. A small percentage of the stateless are illegal immigrants from Indonesia and the Philippines, whose families have fled to Malaysia in search of better economic opportunities, but over 90% of these children are Malaysians without papers: children born out of wedlock are still not recognized as citizens. Others are refugees from Myanmarâ€™s ongoing genocide and conflict, not recognized as asylum-seekers by the Malaysian government. Without adequate legal protection, these youth are all too often completely neglected by government institutions and programs. These youth face a host of social issues including violence, drug abuse, poverty, and sexual abuse, and are continually failed by a lack of education, social support, and a justice system that often even perpetuates these cycles of abuse. Most live in fear everyday for their security. In this film, The Paradigm Shift Project documents these issues, and the solutions local NGOs are implementing to address these issues, as well as how we can all help give these children the rights to which they are entitled. "Malaysia's Invisible Children" is their story.