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Egyptian Cinema and the problem of Child Labour
by Nagla El Baz, Ramses College, Egypt


The problem of child labour has been represented in many movies around the world. In Egypt, many writers, directors and actors were moved by the phenomenon and saw it as their role to trace this problem and explore it from different angles. Egyptian cinema tried to expose the main reasons behind child labour as well as its effects on the individual and society. Some movies helped to suggest some realistic and practical solutions to deal with this issue.

One of the most famous movies which succeeded in drawing the attention to the dangers of exploiting early childhood was "Nahn La Nazra' Al Shawk" (We Aren't Planting The Thorns). In this movie, a very young girl called 'Sayeda' is forced to work as a servant after the death of her parents. She worked for shelter and food, never given any money. She was also very badly treated and violently beaten by her mistress.

As an adult, Sayeda suffered a lot in her life which was a series of continuous tragedies. The film ends with the death of Sayeda becuase her health was always weak. On her death bed she calls for light (symbolising education) and urges everybody to spread the light all about.

Some Egyptian writers expressed the idea that there's no permenant solution for child labour. Society suffers from poverty and over population, all the members of a poor family are struggling to secure a roof to live under. Their dreams are so humble, limited to daily meals and few pieces of cloth. In front of this tragedy, the young children in the family feel obliged to help. They can appreciate what their parents are doing, and they want to provide them with assistance.

"El Garage" (The Garage) is an Egyptian movie which shows a family of 12 members, all of them living in a garage. The father, having got tired of this great load and unable to take responsibility any further, deserts his family, leaving them all in the care of the mother. Of course the mother did her best to support the family, but she got too weak and her health suffered a great deal. Her children felt it was their responsibility to work and support the family.

The film was successful in delivering a message against over popultaion. Parents must plan ahead and always have the aim of securing a happy life for their children.

Nagla El Baz
Ramses College

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