In the border district of Hetauda, in southern Nepal, child trafficking is rife and the lack of border controls makes India an easy destination.
Often sold to traffickers by their parents, the children are enticed with stories of beautiful new clothes, a glamorous and exciting life, the chance of an education and a regular wage. Children, sometimes as young as five years old, have been taken and, in some cases, never seen again. Sold for as little as 1,000 rupees ($13), the families rarely receive the promised wage.
Once in the circuses, these children often live in squalor and are never allowed to leave the circus compound. They are routinely beaten in order to teach them the difficult and dangerous tricks, and sexual abuse is commonplace.
In 2002, this scandal was exposed by a Nepalese children's charity, the Esther Benjamin Memorial Foundation – now Child Rescue Nepal - which runs a children's refuge in Kathmandu. With police support, they started carrying out surprise raids on circuses to rescue these highly vulnerable and at risk children.
This film follows Shailaja and the EBMF team as they set off from Nepal to raid a large circus operating in the state of Uttarakhand in northern India which is suspected of using child performers, but as filmmaker Sky Neal finds out there is still a very long way to go before child labour and trafficking into Indian circuses is brought to an end.
People & Power is an award-winning investigative documentary programme which examines the use and abuse of power around the world.
Each hard-hitting film is distinguished by its focus on stories that revolve around a struggle or conflict over power.
People & Power works with investigative journalists, independent producers and reporters around the world to bring underreported stories to light - speaking truth to power.