[QODLink]
Witness
Hard Time
A heart-rending story of child prisoners in the Philippines told in their own words.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2008 17:23 GMT

Director: Kylie Grey

Imagine a prison where children as young as nine are locked up in the same cells as adults - adult offenders convicted of rape, murder and even child abuse. You may think this is no place for a child.

"Tommy" doing hard time in Cebu prison

But such jails are the norm in the Philippines. At Cebu City prison, more than 1800 inmates sit behind bars - when it was built to hold just 200. But it's not just the overcrowding which is the issue.

There is no segregation. Many of the prisoners are street children, forced by poverty to work as pickpockets, drug dealers or prostitutes.

Bullying and torture by the older prisoners, they say, is a part of every day life.

Even when they are kept in separate cells from adults, the door is kept open at night, leaving many children unable to sleep for fear of being raped.

Tommy (not his real name) is 11 years old and a seasoned jailbird. His first stretch behind bars - for theft - was at the age of eight. His dream, he says, is "to get rich so I do not have to steal anymore." In reality, Tommy is turning into a hardened convict.

Many street kids end up in prison

When his four-month sentence ends, he eagerly awaits his return home - only to be greeted by his grief-stricken mother who says she cannot afford to provide for him anymore - and that he must go back.

It seems the options for Tommy are limited - between a life of crime on the mean streets, or a further stint in prison.

Hard Time is a heart-rending story told in a child prisoner’s own words to filmmaker Kylie Grey.

This episode of Witness will air on Tuesday, 15 January, 2008 at 0430GMT; 1230GMT; 1630GMT; 2330GMT.

Your Comments:

Add your comments on this film.



Click here to see a selection of Witness episodes online

Click here to view the in your area Schedule


To contact us with comments on the film, click on 'Send your feedback' at the top of the page.
Topics in this article
People
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.