Every day we see the reality that poor people are vulnerable to violence. Globally, the facts are stunning.
- Nearly 30 million children, women and men are held as forced labor slaves.
- One in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape – and sexual violence makes everyday activities like going to school, gathering water, using a communal restroom or taking public transport dangerous.
- 10 million people will enter pre-trial detention every year—held in prison or jail without any proceedings to determine their guilt or innocence.
- 4 billion people, most of the world’s poorest people, live in places where their justice systems don’t or can’t protect them from violence.”
Take Lulu for example. Everyday violence is threatening to destroy her potential.
Lulu dreams of running away, deep into the rain forest near her home. The unknown dangers found in the rain forest seem a much safer alternative than certain danger in her home and school.
Nothing Lulu does pleases her mother. The harder Lulu tries, the more she fails, and the harder she is beaten.
One day, while Lulu was doing her homework by dim candlelight, her little brother strayed outside the hut. Lulu ran out just in time to catch him from falling into the open dump site nearby. But as Lulu feared, she received a beating from her mother for letting her little brother wander.
Lulu’s tiny body writhed in pain. In lieu of finishing her homework, she retreated to her mat in the corner of the hut knowing that her teacher will not care about the beating she endured.
The next day Lulu dreads every minute of her walk to school. Not only is she vulnerable to being attacked along the way, she fears what will happen because she did not finish her homework.
At school, Lulu receives lashes to her already hurting back, punishing her for the unfinished work. It’s one beating too many, and she collapses on the floor.
The violence in Lulu’s life is the reality for many children in countries across the world. The cruelty comes in many forms: from outright denial of basic rights like food, clothing and shelter, to harsh beatings and words intended to intimidate and demean. Others are traded like commodities in the market place, while adults all around them watch in silence.
But what if they had a different reality? What if someone spoke up on their behalf?
Imagine Lulu had a safe place to go, like a Compassion Child Development Center. There, her local church pastor and Child Development Center staff provide a safe haven for her to learn, play, and grow. A place where all the children and their caregivers are trained to recognize abuse and bolster a protective environment.
Here, if the staff learns of any abuse or exploitation, they take immediate action.
We firmly believe that for children to develop into their full potential, they must first enjoy the benefits of an environment that is free from danger and abuse.
Unease and outrage seem compassionate and appropriate responses to the evil of “everyday violence.” But may our sorrow not paralyze us. May we be moved to act, pray, and advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves.
The Locust Effect, a new book by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros, brings to light the hidden and corrosive “everyday violence” against the poor that destroys lives and potential, and breeds societies that accept the unacceptable.
This blog post was co-written with Lillian Gitau, International Program Group Child Protection Technical Advisor, Compassion International