Malaysia is one of Southeast Asia'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.
It has been estimated that there may be as many as half a million children between the ages of 6 and 18 who roam Malaysia's streets every night. And the UNHCR has counted 18,600 refugee children. In the red light district of Chow Kit and other neighbourhoods in Kuala Lumpur, many of these kids are at risk of sexual abuse, imprisonment and deportation, and human trafficking.
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 Myanmar’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 they are entitled to.
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