We all take our Human rights for granted some times. But some people in the world do not even have the most basic human rights. Saturday December 10th 2016 marks Human Rights Day, observed annually on that date, to highlight the fundamental rights that all people are entitled to as a global community.


The day marks the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the first global enunciation of human rights and one of the first major achievements of the new United Nations.


The day was first formed in 1950, when the General Assembly invited all member states and other organisations to celebrate. The theme for 2014, “Human Rights 365″, is a reminder that everyone is entitled to basic rights with the same ideals and values – all year round.


Some of the startling statistics of Human rights issues included:

- In 2012, 112 countries tortured their citizens and 101 countries repressed their people’s right to freedom of expression.

- There are 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK today, which is around 27% of children, or more than one in four. According to Unicef, 22,000 children worldwide die each day due to poverty.

- More than 300,000 children under the age of 18 are being exploited as child soldiers in armed conflicts worldwide.

- Around 15 million girls are forced into child marriage around the world every year. One in three girls in the developing world are married by their 18th birthday, increasing their risk of isolation and violence, and limiting their chance to have an education.

- The total number of child labourers remains high, with Unicef and the International Labour Organisation acknowledging an estimated 168 million children aged five to 17 are involved worldwide.

- Every 90 seconds, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths are preventable, but due to gender-based discrimination many women are not given the proper education or care they need.

- Women make up 80% of all refugees and displaced people and are at heightened risk of physical or sexual violence or trafficking.

- At least 20.9 million people are victims of forced labour worldwide.

- An estimated 30 million people are currently enslaved in the human trafficking trade globally.


As listed the issue of human trafficking is just one of many issues facing the world today that is deeply rooted in human rights violations. But it is an issue that effects over 30 million people worldwide. Human trafficking or Trafficking in persons is the illegal and highly profitable recruitment, transport, and sale of human beings for exploitative purposes such as forced labour or services, slavery or slavery-like conditions, prostitution, sexual exploitation or servitude – needs to be addressed as a severe and multi-faceted human rights issue. Various human rights violations occur at different stages of the trafficking cycle.


Firstly, trafficking often emerges where already many human rights deprivations are prevalent. Root causes for trafficking include poverty, discrimination, violence and the general insecurity often related to armed conflict. Hence, anyone may fall victim to human traffickers. However, around 80 per cent of victims are women and children since they are often marginalized and disproportionably affected by these root causes. Secondly, the phenomenon of trafficking in persons comprises a range of human rights violations. The most common ones are the right to personal autonomy, the right not to be held in slavery or servitude, the right to liberty and security of person, the right to be free from cruel or inhumane treatment, the right to safe and healthy working conditions and the freedom of movement. Thirdly, trafficked persons who escape their situation are subject to serious human rights violations at the hands of governments. Most governments’ traditional policies give priority to detention, prosecution and expulsion of trafficked persons for offences related to their status, including violation of immigration laws, prostitution or begging. Often victims are treated as “disposable witnesses” whose sole value is their ability to assist in trafficking prosecutions.


The issue of human trafficking, specifically sex trafficking is explored in m & s Marshall Productions award winning independent dramatic film Daughter of the King. The film follows Ashley Miller (played by Debra van Gaalen) as she tries to rebuild herself and return to a normal life after a previous drug filled episode in her life that landed her in prison. An outstanding debt gets Ashley sucked back into the underworld that is ruled by Haydar (Florin Marksteiner), a ruthless man that forces her into debt slavery until she pays her debt off. She becomes a human trafficking victim as Haydar considers her, his property until the debt is fully paid. Ashley is forced to be a prostitute and deal drugs hoping to regain her freedom. The abuse that comes at her from all sides and in all forms crushes her to the ground making her believe she’s worthless. The film’s director Matthew Marshall feels that the film’s story line of human trafficking and the human rights violations that are done to people that are trafficked, specifically women and children are issues that need to be brought out of the shadows and darkness and brought to light in the public so more people are aware of what goes on. “Haydar in the film strips Ashley of all her rights and freedoms and reduces her to a piece of property that he can do with as he sees fit. That is something no person should have to endure and is the up most Human rights violation on so many levels. These are the things that society needs to be educated about to help stop it from happening to people” Marshall adds when talking about the issues. The film themes not only explore the issue of human trafficking and human rights but it speaks to the fact that ever person is precious and valuable. Clearly Marshall message has had an effect on judges at Film Festivals around the world as Daughter of the King finishes touring film festivals and ended up with 32 Awards, 16 Official Selections, 3 Nominations and an Official Finalist. “It’s a message that needs to be shared” says Marshall about the film and it’s themes.


Marshall feels all the attention from awards and selections only helps to draw attention to the bigger issue of human rights and human trafficking.   “The awards speaks to what I wrote the script about and what myself and the cast and crew were trying to achieve. The themes of Love and grace and that everyone is precious and valuable from the Christian message and the social and world message about human trafficking and what people are having to endure in losing basic human rights.” Marshall comments when talking about the awards the film has won.  Even though Marshall has moved on to othwer film projects he continues to promote and speak to groups about Daughter of the King.  The film is out on DVD in a limited release and is avalable VOD as well. If interested in a DVD or a showing please contact Matthew at msmarshall@sympatico.ca


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