June 4 - International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression, do you know that?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The joy and celebration of our parents had no bounds when we came here to start our journey; they were on top of the world! Some of us are lucky enough to have pampered by our parents, but for some, the journey of life had a devastating start and many unlucky children abort this journey not because of lack of parental care but because of inhuman, vicious, horrendous acts of mankind. "Despite the existence of rights, children suffer from poverty, homelessness, abuse, neglect, preventable diseases, unequal access to education and justice systems that do not recognize their special needs. These are problems that occur in both industrialized and developing countries." Millions of children around the world suffer not just because of poverty and hunger but also because of wars, conflicts, physical abuses, preventable diseases, and of course the ingnorance. Its hard to believe that we are living in a world where over 300,000 youths and girls currently are serving as child soldiers around the world. Many are less than 10 years old. Many girl soldiers are forced into different forms of sexual slavery[2001, source]. They get raped before even knowing the meaning of sex. "The statistics of child abuse in its many, many forms are horrendous. They include over 2 million children killed in conflict in the last two decades; around 10 million child refugees cared for by UNHCR; in the Latin America & Caribbean region 80 thousand children die every year from violence that breaks out within the family[UN]. Whether exploited as child labourers or prostitutes, drafted as young teenagers into armed forces, forced as young girls into a lonely life as domestic workers, deprived of an education to work on the family farm, or denied adequate nutrition and health care, children need help and protection from an adult world that perpetrates most of the abuse.[source]"

June 4th, The International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression acknowledges the pain suffered by children throughout the world who are the victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse - and affirms a commitment to protect the rights of children. The International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression came into being in 1982. The observance was created in response to the appalling number of innocent children suffering because of the conflict in Palestine. But the day reminds us that all children are vulnerable to violence. In our own country, about 20 lakh children die annually and are reduced to statistical figures. That comes up to about 6,000 deaths everyday says a CNN-IBN report. "Children are forced to work in circuses, in factories, in hotels, engaged in forced prostitution or sexual exploitation, drug peddling and smuggling. It would be interesting to know that, as per the findings of International Organization for Migration (IMO), the global 'human industry' generates up to $8 billion each year. The report has further pointed out that an estimated 50000-70000 young girls between 5 to 10 age group are trafficked into India every year[source - Yojana, May 2008]."

It's not that the whole world is silent over child abuse. The problem is so pervasive and difficult that, in spite of legal framework and thousands and thousands of helping hands, millions of children still continue to suffer. UNICEF has taken a bold step by framing the "Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)." Already 193 countries are signatories to this, and ironically, United States is not a signatory! CRC clearly mention that, "Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. Human rights apply to all age groups; children have the same general human rights as adults. But children are particularly vulnerable and so they also have particular rights that recognize their special need for protection.[unicef]" Also, there are thousands of Non-Profit organizations around the globe working seizelessly to give children their due rights. You can find them here. CRY, Human Rights Organizations-India, CRC Kids, Children's Rights Today, Child Rights Information Network, Human Rights Watch - Children's Rights Division, and of course you can find many more.

What can we do?
When a beautiful bollywood babe go to an orphanage, her beautiful photo with orphans will be printed on the front page, when a politician gives assurances like abolishing child labour, it makes headlines, but when a child cries because of hunger and abuse, no one hears. It just becomes a cacophony to many. When we see an innocent little smile on a child's face in our own family, our joy will have no bounds. Don't we feel like going back to childhood again? There are millions of childhood lives in the verge of ending their journey of life. There is always a way to prevent that. We can be the part of that change, we too can change the lives around! Here are some things that we can do along with governament, UNICEF, NGOs and many other non-profit organizations. [source: UN, and my Earlier Posts]
  1. "If you are a parent, teacher, social worker or other professional working with children, raise awareness of the Convention on the Rights of the Child among children" and wherever possible protect the child from exploitation. Your small step can make a huge difference in that child's life.
  2. "If you are a member of the media, promote knowledge and understanding of children’s rights and provide a forum for children’s participation in society."
  3. When you see the blatant abuse of child rights, and if there is any chance of 'doing something', please do so, or at least inform the Child Rights watchdog organizations(Ex: Human Rights Organizations/NGO/Some Foundations known to you or even National Committees).
  4. Economically well off citizen (who at least have some desire for change) can support at least one child by donating. Here are few links where you can donate. Smile foundation, Save the Children, World vision Foundation, Compassion, SOS Children India site, Child Charity and NGO India, Big Help Foundation, Sponsor a Dalit child. And of course there are many other NGOs and Initiatives where you can get involved and see the change for yourself!
  5. Extend your valuable support and help to organizations who work seizelessly to protect the interests of children.
  6. Media can provide you a significant platform if you are willing to bring justice to abused children. Media can, of course, help you to get justice on any matter that you think is vital.
  7. "Everyone can participate in respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s rights. And UNICEF can help. Whoever you are and wherever you are, contact your local UNICEF office or National Committee to see what you can do."[UNICEF]
  8. Some of us say, 'I have interest to help, but no time!" Think again! Don't you think one online transaction is enough to extend your helping hand?
You can be a part of that change. Change the lives around!

PS: Kannada version of the same article is available in Sampada and here.

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This work by Manjunath Singe is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License. The views and opinions expressed in this work are strictly those of the author and do not represent his employer's views in anyway.