At the Gates of Hell takes us into the most deadly parts of the world where escaping abuse, exploitation, extortion and even death is a daily battle. This series takes us deep into hidden worlds, covering: child exploitation by gangs in Colombia, femicide in Mexico, business in the shadow of the Mafia in Napoli, life as a homosexual in Russia, environmentalists under fire in the Amazon, the abandoned communities of Detroit and beyond.
Childhood is not a happy time in Colombia, it can mean living in constant threat of coerced into gangs or caught in the cross-fire. In the forgotten barrios of Bogotá and Medellín, children find themselves hired as killers or forced into prostitution before they have left their teens. We give voice to this lost generation.
Napoli has for hundreds of years been in the hands of a handful of criminal families. To run a business here is to pay ever increasing extortion demands or face destruction, arson or murder. We visit the communities – and the gang members – to understand this violent eco-system.
Between Jan 2012 and June 2016 – 9,581 women were violently murdered in Mexico, but just 1,887 were categorised as Femicides. Mexican authorities are unwilling to face the rising tide of violence against woman, and domestic violence, trafficking and prostitution remain hidden from public view and public discourse. We meet with the victims familiers, survivors and perpetrators and analyze, together with anthropologists, why there is so much machismo and misogyny in the Mexican culture.
After years of slow but steady progress, the rights of homosexuals in Russia took a giant step backwards with the passing of the Anti-Propaganda law – effectively forcing the gay population of Russia to live in the shadows and in shame. Lacking the basic right of living openly, as well as facing legal discrimination in work and study – Russia’s LGBT are also now facing a growing wave of violence. We meet those who are fighting for their rights, those responsible for the swell of homophobia and the many ordinary gay citizens for whom the future is so bleak that choose to stay in the closet or leave.
Detroit was the most promising city in the USA, the birthplace of Fordism and mass credit and a bedrock of reinforced concrete and fair salaries. Racial riots, the gutting of the car industry and the crisis drained the city, from a high of nearly 2 million inhabitants to a waking nightmare for the 700K remaining. We meet with those left behind – many of them low income African-American, condemned to live in delinquency, poverty and abandonment.
Every year, dozens of public transport and taxi drivers are murdered in Honduras – the worlds most dangerous country – turning the entire sector into struggle for survival. The ‘war tax’ is a toll that gangs demand from drivers to work in their territory. Whoever refuses to pay it, will pay it with his life or that of a close relative´s. Who would work in this terrifying business and at what cost?
There is a 10km wall in Lima that separates the richest neighbourhood in the city from the poorest. For some it is known as the ‘wall of shame’, for others its essential to security. What are the root causes of this massive monument to inequality, how is it that a low income person on one side of the wall is paying twice what their rich neighbour is, on the other side of the wall, for a glass of water?
In parts of the Amazon, protecting your ancestral land from illegal loggers, and oil and gold prospectors, can be a death sentence. Shady businesses from far away, not content with destroying the environment and stealing the resources of indigenous communities are now engaged in a violence and intimidation. We meet with the environmental heroes, who are threatened daily, and those who will do anything to get their hands on these resources – including a hit man who has murdered over 20 activists.