The price of survival
JUN 14 -
Fourteen-year-old Putali goes from being pampered by her parents all her life to having everything ripped away from her in an instant. Crying for her mother, she ends up begging for food on the streets, and then, out of desperation, takes up work at a dance bar, where she is reduced to nothing but an object on display, meant solely for the amusement of lecherous men. Putali, in fact, represents the billions of young girls who are forced out of their homes by difficult circumstances, and promptly become part of a booming sex industry where they are used and discarded at will.
Table Number 14 was staged at the Rastriya Naach Ghar on the occasion of International Day Against Child Labour, one of the many such events held around Kathmandu on Tuesday. The play, organised jointly by Terre Des Hommes, Change Nepal, Saathi, Child and Women Empowerment Society, Biswas Nepal, and World Education, was based around the realities of child labour, particularly to do with sexual exploitation. Themes like redundancy, political mayhem, and neglect, in terms of the country’s situation, were also laid bare on stage. That the participants comprised of children was another factor that added to the gravity of the production, in that it was able to demonstrate the effects of child labour firsthand, giving the issue a face. There were also moments in the play when the actors fell completely silent, allowing the audience a chance to pause and soak up the impact of the story.
The play was also interactive; for instance, when Putali whimpered for help from the audience, nobody stood up, testifying to the lack of activism and heroism in present-day society. Brevity was achieved by certain injections of humour in certain places, but it was of the ironic sort.
According to programme coordinator Sulakshana Rana, “Any form of child labour is wrong, but sexual exploitation and involving minors in sexual activities are the worst manifestations”. These are relevant issues in the contemporary Nepali context, where the rising difficulty in finding employment, and the desperation that results thereof, leads young girls into demeaning and dangerous professions, selling their dignity for the sake of survival.
Posted on: 2012-06-14 08:34