Slumdog Child Star for Sale!

Filed under: Opinions

A recent expose involving the child star, Rubina Ali, of the Oscar winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" is bringing to light the plight of our world's poorest children, the victims of parents who are willing to sell them, like cattle, for profit or hope of a better life.

After seeing Rubina's living conditions on Al-Jazeera television, a wealthy Middle Eastern family expressed interest in adopting her. Rubina's father was interested in their offer, but when investigators for the British tabloid, "The News of the World," posing as a Dubai sheikh, also expressed interest -- and offered more money -- Rubina's father and uncle were caught on tape in scandalously callous negotiations for the adorable nine-year old. The transcripts reveal a lot of discussion about money and virtually none about the background of the couple or the safety of his child. In fact, dad and uncle actually brought Rubina to the luxury hotel suite to dine and meet the fake sheikh and his wife. Rubina, however, thought that they were rich fans and had no idea that her father was there with the purpose of selling her.

Sadly, in India, 11 million children are abandoned annually. According to the article, the trafficking of poor Indian children to the Middle East is common in the slums of Mumbai and those who are sold are often forced into child slavery, prostitution, sexual abuse or forced to risk their lives as camel jockeys. It is hard to believe that Rubina's father is completely unaware of the fate of these children.

I personally have seen the poverty of Mumbai first hand. I will never forget the moment I stood on the boardwalk in Mumbai and saw half-clothed and naked toddlers, being led by a five or six year old, with no adult supervision in sight. I watched in disbelief as they dug through piles of trash for food and scraps. The images haunt me even more now that I have children of my own. This is poverty beyond anything seen in America and it is difficult to comprehend the choices that face those who live in these conditions.

Not surprisingly, the blogs are heating up with debate about Rubina's father, the investigation, and even the director of Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle. Some are questioning whether Boyle has a responsibility to the stars who were plucked from Mumbai's slums and ended up going to Hollywood Oscar parties and Disneyland and then back to the sewage infested slums they came from.

The only good I can see in all of this is that had it not been for Rubina's fame, we would not be talking about child trafficking. The name-less, face-less child victims suddenly have a face and a name. That's the first step.


Note: Looking for steps? Check out this site for 21 ways you can help stop child trafficking. There are plenty of other sites and organizations. Find one that speaks to you and donate!


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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.