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University of Iowa News Release

April 20, 2004

'Stolen Childhoods' Child Labor Film Debuts In Iowa April 28 At UI

"Stolen Childhoods," a feature documentary on global child labor, will premiere at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28, at the Buchanan Auditorium, Room W10 in the John Pappajohn Business Building on the University of Iowa campus. The film is told primarily in the words of laboring children, who live on three different continents across the globe, but who share a common fate.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Len Morris (left), the film's producer/director; Sonia Rosen (middle), founding director of the U.S. Department of Labor's International Child Labor Program; and Chivy Sok (right), project director of the Child Labor Research Initiative and deputy director of the UI Center for Human Rights. The screening will be preceded by a brief televideo welcome by Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin.

The film and discussion are free and open to the public, but because of limited seating, those who wish to attend must pick up free passes at the University Box Office in the Iowa Memorial Union. Tickets will be available starting Wednesday, April 21, during regular box office hours: from 10 a.m. to the last film showing Monday through Friday.

The free screening and panel discussion are made possible through the Child Labor Research Initiative, a project for which Harkin secured funds in the Fiscal 2001 federal appropriations bill. Other major sponsors include UI International Programs, the UI Center for Human Rights, UI Labor Center and The Bijou.

"This screening aims to raise awareness about global child labor, a very daunting and complicated human rights problem that will require collaboration between multiple sectors of our society, including policy-makers, diplomats, academics, human rights advocates, community members and the children themselves," says Sok. "Without awareness, we cannot be effective advocates of social justice."

Shot in seven countries and three continents, "Stolen Childhoods" includes slave and bonded labor footage never seen before. Around the world, 246 million children between the ages of 5 and 17 spend their days laboring rather than going to school. They work in garbage dumps, quarries, brick kilns, making charcoal, on fishing platforms, picking tobacco, coffee or vegetables, working in sweatshops, as domestic servants, making rugs and selling their bodies on the street. The movie will provide an understanding of the causes of child labor, what it costs the global community and how it contributes to global insecurity.

Harkin, who is prominently featured in the film, is the leading advocate to reduce abusive and exploitative child labor, Sok says. She adds that he has advocated legislative and policy changes to reduce this scourge. He has also increased the U.S. contribution to the International Labor Organization's programs to rehabilitate child laborers through various methods to include educational opportunities. These children have been removed from illegal employment and hazardous conditions.

"I am pleased that the University of Iowa will show this film raising awareness of the last vestige of slavery -- abusive and exploitative child labor," said Harkin. "When children are exploited for the economic gain of others, everyone loses. It is bad economics and bad development strategy. There is no place in the global economy for child slave labor. The best way to combat abusive and exploitative child labor is through education."

Sok says: "We're very fortunate that Len and Sonia are both available to join us for this special debut before the film is released nationally. They are stellar advocates renowned for their work and commitment to human rights. Stolen Childhoods is so deeply moving. The evening will be an educational experience to remember."

Morris, a member of the Directors Guild of America, has produced, directed and edited television documentaries for 20 years. His programs have been syndicated and broadcast on ABC, NBC, HBO, TNT and PBS and other cable and international networks. As a network sound editor, film editor and producer, Morris completed dozens of news magazine segments for ABC's 20/20. His independent production company Galen Films has produced numerous award-winning documentaries. He is the recipient of an Independent Filmmaker 5 Award from the American Film Institute. He holds a master's degree in broadcasting from Boston University.

Rosen is an international human rights advocate, with a focus on economic and social rights. She was the founding director of the U.S. Department of Labor's International Child Labor Program. As director, Rosen was responsible for the research and publication of six major U.S. government reports on various aspects of child labor, for which she and her staff received annual awards from the Secretary of Labor. She oversaw the creation of a 30-plus million-dollar grant program to the International Labor Organization to support innovative and action-oriented child labor projects throughout the world. She negotiated path-breaking agreements to phase children out of work and into school, and established internal and independent external monitoring systems in the Bangladeshi garment industry, the Pakistani soccer industry and the Pakistani carpet industry. Rosen has traveled widely on human rights and child labor fact-finding missions, diplomatic missions and program review missions.

Invitational screenings will be held in Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles to advance advocacy for working children, and the documentary will also be entered in International and U.S. film festivals.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability and require accommodations in order to participate, please contact Patricia Pollock at 319-335-3900 or Girija Mahajan at 515-556-4965.

International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services. Organized under the associate provost for academic program and dean for International Programs, these units serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026,; Writer: Mansi Bhatia

PHOTOS/GRAPHICS: Photos and/or graphics for this article may be found at