For Immediate Release
March 27, 2009
Eileen White Read, 202.741.6376
RELEASE: Enough Project Applauds NBC for Law & Order SVU Episode on Uganda Rebel Group
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Enough Project, which has served as adviser for an episode of the television series Law & Order Special Victims Unit scheduled to run on March 31, applauds NBC Universal and Executive Producer Dr. Neal Baer for the episode’s sensitive portrayal of difficult and ongoing issues in Africa.
In the episode, entitled “Hell,” a young female Ugandan turns up in New York City with a severe knife wound, and doctors notice that her body displays evidence of long-term physical and sexual abuse. The young African girl, when asked who hurt her, makes a stick drawing of a devil. The girl’s character, and that of a young boy – a former “child soldier” – were written to symbolize the plight of survivors of the 22-year war in Northern Uganda waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, a brutal rebel group known for abducting an estimated 20,000 children. The group forced thousands of boys to become child soldiers and girls to become sex slaves and “wives” to its commanders.
Information about the LRA and issues surrounding its activities were provided by Enough’s Co-founder John Prendergast and Uganda-based policy researcher Julia Spiegel. As an educational tool to accompany the episode, Law & Order has been featuring the Enough Project on its website throughout the month of March. On the Enough Project website, a box on the home page sends visitors to a special section, “An In-Depth Look at the Lord’s Resistance Army,” featuring policy research reports, stories of survivors, multimedia content, and actions activists can take. As recent Enough Project reports have noted, the scourge of the LRA continues; although the unit was forced from Uganda in 2006, it has in recent years wreaked havoc in Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Sudan, and Central African Republic.
"In our continuing commitment to bring the audience stories that resonate with timely social issues, SVU presents the plight of child soldiers, innocent children throughout the world who are being forced, often under threat of death, to commit atrocities against others,” says Dr. Baer. “We have had the privilege of working with John Prendergast, who has guided us with his expertise and shown us that only by knowing the truth, can we act to stop this horror."
“Law & Order is taking on the very hard issue of child soldiers in a sensitive way,” says Prendergast. “The death of Elijah, the former child soldier, illuminates the stories of thousands of children all around the world who are in captivity, forced to fight in wars and commit atrocities. The hell on earth referred to in the episode is the area of central Africa destabilized by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan militia that abducts children to act as child soldiers and sex slaves. Countering the LRA and freeing the child soldiers and concubines are urgent human rights priorities. International action is needed, and hopefully the Law & Order episode can contribute to galvanizing that action.”