Archive for the category “Children”

Suffering foster children ‘a meter of our social problems’

claudia-felder_1NPR reports:

Claudia Felder spent much of her childhood in foster care, starting when she was 3 years old — and all but one of those foster homes were physically and sexually abusive. When Felder was adopted, it seemed like the nightmare would finally come to an end. But the traumatized child found it difficult to adjust to home life and got into trouble in school. After four years in that house, the family sent her back into foster care, at age 10.

Cris Beam, the author of To The End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care, says Felder’s experience is representative — and that the problems foster kids face are also society’s problems. The foster care problem cannot be addressed without tackling the society’s broader issues of drug abuse, domestic and sexual abuse, and poverty: “They are a meter of our social problems … of how we are failing or succeeding as a society.”

To read or listen to this story, click here.

Obama lifts sanctions against child-soldier trafficking

CC NCIn the same week that President Obama issued, with great fanfare, an executive order to fight human trafficking, he also quietly nullified the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) of 2008. This is not the first time he has misused an executive order to override this piece of legislation, which was unanimously passed in Congress. In 2010, he granted a “one-time” waiver to certain nations, then renewed the waiver in 2011. His memo explaining the order said he had determined it is not in the national interest of the U.S. to proceed with the CSPA and was waiving its application for Libya, South Sudan, Yemen and, partially, Congo. The stated reason: So US arms manufacturers could continue selling their wares to countries that have not foresworn the child soldier oppression and so the US could continue sending military training funds to those countries.

How can the United States’ national interest be served by looking the other way while children are forced into military service? How can the President’s greatly welcomed stance against child trafficking be seen as anything other than a facade?

Mission Network News reports:

Four days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama quietly nullified the Child Soldiers Protection Act (CSPA) of 2008.

Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries (ECM) explains, “On Sunday afternoon, the president issued a memo saying that he has determined that it’s not in the national interest of the U.S. to proceed with this [Act], and therefore he has waived the application of this law with respect to certain nations like Libya, South Sudan, Yemen, and partially, in the case of Congo.” …

The CSPA was a Bush-era law aimed as a deterrent at U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their military. Rouster says it went through Congress unanimously–a rare effort. The teeth: “That law made it a federal crime to recruit or to use soldiers under the age of 15. It gave the U.S. the authority to prosecute, deport, and deny entry to anybody who recruited child soldiers, and it also forbade us to export arms and military items to countries that allowed use of child soldiers.” …

A United Nations committee urged the U.S. president to take a tougher stance. They’re not alone. “This action…I’m utterly dismayed by it,” exclaims Rouster, noting that it sends a lot of mixed messages. “We just see it as prolonging the war in Congo. We see it as sending the wrong kind of message to people around the world so that the practice of recruiting children to serve as soldiers is only going to increase as a result of this.”

The irony is that a week earlier, touting his administration’s stance on the issue, President Obama issued an executive order to fight human trafficking. Confused yet? Rouster says, “We just feel that these presidential memos will have the effect of subjecting more children to those wars, and also it’ll send the message to the world that ‘trafficking children into the military is okay with us’, or at least, ‘we’re looking the other way’.”

However, the issue of Child Soldiery has devastating consequences on a society. ECM has learned this firsthand over the years as they’ve built ministry to rehabilitate some of the child soldiers they’ve encountered in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Northern Uganda (Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony). Rouster says, “It’ll take generations to recover from the horrors, which is the case with the children that we work with in northern Uganda.”

You can read the full article by clicking here.
— Help former child soldiers recover from their trauma through Baptist Global Response or Every Child Ministries.
— Oppose the oppression of children in the military through International Justice Mission and Child Soldiers International.
— Related story: Ex-child-soldier: ‘Shooting became just like drinking a glass of water’

Afghan oppression: Opium drug lords and child ‘brides’

In Afghanistan, girls — as young as 6 — are being “married” to adult men who loaned money to poor farmers to finance crops of opium poppies. When the farmer can’t repay the loan, the drug lord demands a daughter in payment. When the children aren’t taken as wives, they often are trafficked to other countries, where they are used for transporting drugs or put into sex slavery.

A "wedding" couple in Afghanistan: Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam, 11. (CC AP / UNICEF / Stephanie Sinclair NC)

A “wedding” couple in Afghanistan: Mohammed, 40, and Ghulam, 11. (CC AP / UNICEF / Stephanie Sinclair NC)

Samuel Burke reports for CNN:

The mother of a little Afghan girl cannot even turn to face her daughter. She looks down in shame as she explains why she must hand the girl over to drug lords.

The father of the girl has done what many Afghan farmers must do to finance their opium farms: borrow money from drug traffickers. But the Afghan government and international forces’ attempt to halt the opium trade has quashed the father’s poppy business, and with it, his ability to pay back the lenders.

The drug lords have taken him hostage to extract a payment.

“I have to give my daughter to release my husband,” the mother explains with the girl at her side. She looks no older than six.

Ninety percent of the world’s opium – the raw source of heroin – comes from Afghanistan. Growing poppy there has been a lucrative industry.

The Afghan government has been cracking down and destroying illegal crops, leaving many farmers in the same horrifying situation as the family forced to use their own daughter as collateral for the loan.

“They’re way more dangerous and powerful than the Taliban,” one father of two kidnapped children says about the drug lords. He looks at a text messaged picture of his daughter being held in captivity as the captors demand $20,000 from the man over the telephone.

These tragic stories are documented in PBS’ award-winning Frontline film, Opium Brides, which was made by investigative Afghan reporter Najibullah Quraishi and producer Jamie Doran.

Quraishi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that when the families give up their children, they are often taken to other countries, like Pakistan or Iran, where they are used for transporting drugs or put into sex slavery.

Read the full story and watch a related video by clicking here.

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