Children: The Primary Victims of the Refugee Crisis

Many countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East are plagued by war and other troubles, which displace and endanger millions of children. They are forced to move from their homelands to European borders in order to find safety. Displaced families are often separated, and they suffer extremely poor living conditions. Many children are orphaned and must afterward attempt to get themselves out alone.

Statistics on Children in the Refugee Crisis

In 2015, about 4.5 million children fled their country of origin in the wave of migrants trying to reach Europe via the Mediterranean. Children make up about one-fifth of the refugees in the European crisis. (Alameddine, 2015)
In 2015, about 337,000 asylum requests were filed for minors, of which 88,300 were unaccompanied minors. (Council of Europe, 2017). These children are fleeing unstable, war-torn countries that are no longer safe for them to live in. They come from Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq, as well as African and Asian countries. Many of them have suffered psychological trauma within their countries, which is increased by the migration between their home country and wherever they are seeking refugee status.
Many children are forced to cross the sea in order to reach Europe, which unfortunately means that some drown. Between November 2016 and January 2017, about 190 refugee children died in the Mediterranean Sea. (UNICEF, 2017) This number is constantly increasing. Aylan, a Syrian child just a few years old who was found dead on a Turkish beach in 2015, is just one example.

Dangerous and Unstable Living Conditions

Children make up a large part of those living in refugee camps in southern European countries, including Turkey, Italy, and Greece. Living conditions there are extremely rough. Children and adults alike lack food, water, clothing, and appropriate housing, including sufficient hygienic facilities.
Many children are held in camps during the asylum and immigration process, a system which amounts to detention. Far from being provided with any psychological or legal support, it instead has a negative impact on children’s physical and psychological development.
Humanium is a non-governmental organization working for children’s rights around the world, including the right to psychological and social support, in order to help them rebuild their lives after overcoming such insurmountable obstacles. Here is a video created by Humanium, showing the organization’s approach and work with children:
English: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrPI48YM9Ms
French: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaDJUfNOoas
Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1D6mDnQAiw
German: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZOX_utVGE0

Children Disappearing

The majority of children entering Europe are unaccompanied, which increases the chances of them disappearing. In addition, many families are separated at the border of European countries. This affected about 3,500 children in 2013. Missing Children Europe reported 89,000 unaccompanied children in 2015, 10,000 of which had disappeared. (Boissieu, 2017)
In addition, because they travel alone, many children are not registered or reported anywhere, which means that their journey leaves no official trace and can never receive additional support. Refugee children can quickly fall victim to crime or human trafficking, since they are generally abandoned to their own devices and have to rely on themselves. Children lose their bearings and become easy prey, which leads to them being targeted by traffickers who can gain their trust quickly by offering them some semblance of protection, before forcing them into work. (Diffalah, 2016)

Protecting Refugee Children

UNICEF has demanded action from the European Union in order to protect refugee children and guarantee them better living conditions. The dangers these children face—exploitation, rights violations, and drowning risks—must be alleviated. UNICEF has set up aid operations in order to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees, offering them enough to fulfill their basic needs. In February alone, 300 children were saved through UNICEF’s actions. (UNICEF, 2017)
In addition, the European Commission has invested 270 million euros to construct and maintain educational buildings for Syrian refugee children. Refugee children are often excluded from the educational system—about 400,000 do not currently attend school. (EU Logos, 2017). The goal is to provide the refugee children with an education, in order for them to better adapt and integrate into their new countries.

written by : Capucine Le Tarnec
Translated by : Allison M. Charette
Proofread by : Beth Smith

Sources

 

 

Alameddine, A. (2015, Septembre). Les enfants réfugiés sur les côtes de l’Europe. Récupéré sur UNICEF: https://www.unicef.org/french/emergencies/index_86057.html

Boissieu, P. d. (2017). 10 000 enfants migrants disparus en Europe : des ONG alertent. Libération.

Conseil de l’Europe. (2017, Mars 6). Luxembourg. Récupéré sur http://asile.ch/2017/03/08/conseil-de-leurope-rapport-protection-enfants-refugies/

Diffalah, S. (2016, Février 1er). Comment 10.000 enfants réfugiés peuvent disparaître des radars ? Récupéré sur L’Obs: http://tempsreel.nouvelobs.com/monde/migrants/20160201.OBS3811/comment-10-000-enfants-refugies-peuvent-disparaitre-des-radars.html

EU Logos. (2017, 01 8). L’Europe un projet qui ne s’assume pas jusqu’au bout ? Les enfants réfugiés syriens en Turquie. Récupéré sur EU Logos: https://eulogos.blogactiv.eu/2017/01/08/leurope-un-projet-qui-ne-sassume-pas-jusquau-bout-les-enfants-refugies-syriens-en-turquie/

UNICEF. (2017, Février 3). L’UNICEF demande à l’Europe des mesures pour assurer la sécurité des enfants réfugiés et migrants. Récupéré sur UNICEF: https://refugeesmigrants.un.org/fr/lunicef-demande-%C3%A0-leurope-des-mesures-pour-assurer-la-s%C3%A9curit%C3%A9-des-enfants-r%C3%A9fugi%C3%A9s-et-migrants

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The miracle of being a girl in India

Since ancient times, there have been reports of infanticide in India. This practice involves the murdering of new-born or very young girls using methods such as choking, abandonment, poisoning, and so on. This is a serious problem that has repercussions on society as a whole and has led to the redefining of selective abortion with the arrival of technological advances. This practice consists of having tests during pregnancy to know the sex of the baby before birth, and in the case of it being a girl, for an abortion to be carried out if so wished (Gomez, 2011).

The value of women in Indian society

In her book “Quand les femmes auront disparu”, the journalist Bénédicte Manier warns of the disappearance of some 48 million women in India, and according to figures published in 2001, for every 1000 boys India would have 927 girls- a proportion that becomes 900 girls for every 1000 boys in the North of the country (Campos, 2010).

The practice of infanticide or selective abortion is not linked to religion, given that it is as normalized in Muslim populations as it is in Hindu ones; nor is it linked to people’s economic situation and rural environment- in fact women with greater economic resources have more means to abort. These customs are directly related to the role that women are expected to play in society, because while men are responsible for taking care of their parents or preserving the family name, women are seen as a family burden. A Hindu proverb explains that having a daughter is like planting a seed in your neighbour’s garden, and a woman’s family has to pay a considerable dowry to ensure that they will be well settled amongst their in-laws once married. In addition to this, women are denied the right to inheritance- being male is the only way to inherit.

Negative impact of technological advances

New technology has not resulted in societies rethinking these atrocious practices through improved access to information about the subject. On the contrary, technological advances such as ultrasounds that allow us to know the sex of a baby still in the mother’s womb, or improvements in the means and tools to perform abortions, has led to what is known as selective abortion.

The media’s role has also had a negative impact, as offers are often found on the Internet from Indian clinics advertising discounts on purchasing “ultrasound plus abortion” packages (Campos, 2010). In fact, companies such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft were brought before the Supreme Court of India with the aim of banning them from advertising laboratories that help determine the sex of the baby (El Periódico, 2015).

Government measures to ease the problem

For its part, the Government has produced a series of measures to control the use of these new tools. Although abortion has been legal in India since 1971, the Government introduced a law that allows abortion up until the 12th week of pregnancy, and only after the fourteenth week will the mother be able to have an ultrasound to find out the sex of the baby (Campos, 2010).

In 2007 the Minister for Women and Child Development, Renuka Chowdhury, announced that: “It doesn’t matter if the measure encourages the abandonment of girls. It is better that than to kill them”. These words allude to the implementation of the Cradle Babies project which consists of placing cradles in different districts so that parents who do not wish to take care of their daughters leave them there, thus avoiding the baby’s death (Rojas, 2017).

Furthermore since 2014 the Government has been implementing laws that grant women the right to inherit, although many communities refuse to accept it, continuing to favour men and restricting the role of women. However, the application of this law is also an incentive for many families to keep practising selective abortion, because they think that what their daughters inherit will just end up in the hands of their in-laws (Gomez, 2011).

As we wait for the Government and NGOs to work together to solve this problem that currently affects most countries in the world such as China and Vietnam, our duty as a society is to raise awareness about these injustices and commit to spreading hope for change.

written by : Maria Garcia
Translated by : Carl Eadie
Proofread by : Allegra FitzHerbert

Sources

 

 

Campos Mansilla, B. (March 2010). El feticidio e infanticidio femenino. [Online review]. Available at : https://pendientedemigracion.ucm.es/info/nomadas/27/beatrizcampos.pdf

El Periódico (January 2015). La India obliga a Google, Yahoo y Microsoft a suprimir publicidad de servicios para determinar el sexo de bebés. [Online article]. Available at : http://www.elperiodico.com/es/noticias/internacional/india-obliga-google-yahoo-microsoft-suprimir-publicidad-servicios-para-determinar-sexo-bebes-3890990

Gómez-Limón, T. y Amador, I. (2011). Las tradiciones que no aman a las mujeres [E-book]. Available at : https://books.google.es/books?id=ozVzPEf4GpEC&pg=PA313&dq=infanticidio+india&hl=es&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIrdPm9LzSAhWJsxQKHemkCqcQ6AEILDAE#v=onepage&q=aborto%20selectivo&f=false

Jill Radford, D. (2006). Feminicidio: la política de asesinato de las mujeres. [E-book]. Available at : https://books.google.es/books?id=tQjKIWhPwJwC&pg=PA257&dq=infanticidio+india&hl=es&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIrdPm9LzSAhWJsxQKHemkCqcQ6AEIGjAA#v=onepage&q=infanticidio%20india&f=false

Rojas, A. (February 2017). India pondrá cunas en la calle para evitar el asesinato de niñas. [Online article]. Available at : http://elpais.com/diario/2007/02/19/sociedad/1171839602_850215.html

Sosa, T. (August 2013). Generocidio: aborto selectivo por razones de sexo. [Online article]. Available at: https://palabrademujer.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/generocidio-aborto-selectivo-por-razones-de-sexo/

Pániker, A. (October 2014). La sociedad de castas: Religión y política en la India. .[E-book]. Available at: https://books.google.es/books?id=d3MgBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT79&dq=infanticidio+india&hl=es&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjIrdPm9LzSAhWJsxQKHemkCqcQ6AEIMzAF#v=onepage&q=infanticidio%20india&f=false

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Sexual Exploitation of Children in the Philippines

The Declaration and Agenda for Action of the 1st World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children generally defines sexual exploitation of children in this way: “The sexual exploitation of children for commercial purposes is a fundamental violation of their rights. It includes sexual abuse by an adult and compensation in kind or money paid to the child or to one or more third parties. The child is treated as a sexual and commercial object, which is the equivalent of forced labor and is a modern form of slavery.” In the Philippines, studies by Unicef’s National Statistics Office show, an estimated 60,000 to 100,000 children are involved in the sex industry (Lesacq, 2014). Due to poverty and recurrent natural disasters that affect the Philippines, life for many Philippine nationals has become a disaster. Criminals have profited from this situation to build a sex industry, which results in the abuse of children.

Promises for a better life lead to a nightmare

For those careworn from a life of poverty and victims of natural disasters, the only means of many women’s survival in the Philippines is to quit school and find work in the capitol, often as housekeepers. However, jobs promised to them often turn out to be nightmares.

This was true for Grace, who, only 13 years old and lacking resources, became one of these victims. Apple, 16 years old, already has a 2-year-old child and is pregnant again by an unknown man (Info chrétienne, 2017). The fight for survival required them both to leave behind their school desks in order to go to work selling their bodies.

Many young girls find themselves in situations similar to those of Grace and Apple, and once at the mercy of their exploiters, it is impossible for them to escape. Every year, thousands of women and young girls are victims of the local sex industry (Unicef, 2005).

Sexual exploitation by webcam

Other children are led into the dangerous world of sexual exploitation by strangers they meet on the Internet.

In the Philippines, children have ready access to cybercafés and can fall into the clutches of sexual predators operating through the web (Unicef, 2008). When she was 15 years old, Angel had many friends she chatted with, and some of them told her she could earn money just by talking with strangers. Connected with men in North America and Europe, Angel executes commands they make, such as to appear naked, by webcam, in exchange for a sum of money they send afterwards.

Some local cybercafés have private rooms, which lets adolescents “produce themselves” on site for connected foreign clients. Nearby the new cybercafés are offices for companies specialized in funds transfers, where adolescents can receive payment almost instantaneously from these clients.

The consequences

The sexual abuse and exploitation of children have serious negative, even irreversible, effects that threaten the physical, psychological, spiritual, mental, and social development of children, and often even their basic survival.

Children rarely have the opportunity to demand the use of condoms and can easily catch sexually transmitted diseases. Many have admitted to their feelings of shame, guilt, and loss of self-respect. Others suffer from stigmatization or feelings of betrayal.

National plan to counter sexual exploitation

The Philippine government began to understand the seriousness of the situation in 2005, and it created a women’s bureau that brings together various government agencies, legal authorities, and local organizations tasked with identifying vulnerable girls. Awareness campaigns and other programs have saved thousands of children and given them a new start. End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) is one such local organization, which has the mission of guaranteeing that young girls get a roof over their head, advice, and training to help protect them from sex criminals and to gain the skills they need to transform their lives. Liza, 19 years old, was approached by ECPAT when she worked in a brothel in Cebu. She was able to get away and was also able to help the other girls at the brothel do the same. In total, 43 girls were saved, and they later filed a lawsuit against their exploiters. Liza was able to go back to school, where she learned to be a chef (Unicef, 2005).

By combining our common efforts to protect children around the world, we are laying the foundation for a better future and effective justice to eradicate the sex crime industries.

The sexual exploitation of children in the Philippines has expanded through the unregulated Internet access of pedophile networks and pornography; since 2005, the government has united local forces to fight against this evil and its grave consequences for the country’s youth.

Written by : Niriniaina Ralambomamy

Translated by: Carolyn Yohn

Proofread by : Marion Brasseur

 

Sources

 

 

Info chrétienne. (2017). Beaucoup de filles meurent à cause de ce que font les clients. Consulté le Mars 14, 2017, surhttps://www.infochretienne.com/apple-16-ans-mere-de-deux-enfants-et-prostituee-aux-philippines/

Lesacq, C. (2014). Philippines : les orphelins de Haiyan, proies des trafiquants sexuels. Consulté le Mars 14, 2017, surhttp://www.liberation.fr/planete/2014/01/13/philippines-les-orphelins-de-haiyan-menaces-par-l-exploitation-sexuelle_972434

Unicef. (2005). Philippines : en finir avec l’exploitation sexuelle. Consulté le Mars 14, 2017, surhttps://www.unicef.fr/article/philippines-en-finir-avec-lexploitation-sexuelle

McBride, R. (2008). Aux Philippines, les jeunes sont entraînés dans l’exploitation sexuelle en ligne. Récupéré sur https://www.unicef.org/french/infobycountry/philippines_46852.html

 

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