Human trafficking documentary premieres in Beijing

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BEIJING, Sep 21 (Reuters) An MTV-backed documentary on human trafficking in Asia premiered in China today in a country still reeling from a scandal involving teenagers and children enslaved at several brick kilns.

''One of the shocking things is that when you ask young people, does slavery really exist, the general answer would probably be no, or they won't believe it's happening here,'' MTV EXIT Campaign Director Simon Goff told Reuters in an interview in Beijing.

MTV EXIT an anti-human trafficking initiative of programmes and events screened the China premiere of ''Traffic'' on Friday, a documentary about three young victims of human trafficking across Southeast Asia.

It includes Anna, taken from the Philippines and forced into prostitution; Eka, an Indonesian woman forced into domestic servitude in Singapore; and Ming Aung, a Burmese man detained for two years in a factory in Thailand.

''(We) worked with expert groups like the ILO, the UN and the IOM (International Organisation for Migration) about which were the most prevalent forms of trafficking in Asia,'' Goff said.

''That came down to trafficking for sexual exploitation, for domestic servitude and for forced labour.'' Human trafficking is a major global problem, particularly in Asia and Africa. The United Nations estimates 2.5 million people are currently coerced into forced labour or prostitution in a trade worth between 7 billion dollars and 10 billion dollars annually.

In China, where the 30-minute documentary will be shown several times on MTV China's channel in October and November, human trafficking cases involving sex and forced labour are increasing, officials have said.

Chinese police detained 47 people accused of trafficking babies earlier in the month and rescued dozens of infants being traded because of rural families' desire for children in a country that strictly enforces population control.

This followed a scandal earlier in the year involving hundreds of farmers, teenagers and children being kidnapped, beaten and forced to work in brick kilns.

Goff said one of the most important underlying causes for human trafficking was ''demand''.

''The demand that we all represent for cheaper and cheaper consumer products and labour and the demand for paid sex,'' he said.

MTV signed up a string of Asian pop stars to present the documentary, including South Korea's Rain and Thailand's ''Britney Spears'' Tata Young in country-specific releases. Canto-pop star Karen Mok narrates the Chinese version in Mandarin.

The show will be beamed to about 13 million homes, MTV executives said, mainly in China's affluent southern province of Guangdong and hotels in other provinces.

China places strict controls on foreign and non-state broadcasters and bans cable access in most private homes, though many residents in larger cities often watch foreign cable channels through illegal satellite dishes.

''We know that ... those who are most at risk of being trafficked don't necessarily have access to MTV,'' Goff said, adding that the station would reach out to state-owned CCTV and other local channels.

''Hopefully we can get support from them, too,'' he said.

REUTERS ARB KN1635

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