“Do what it takes for as long as it takes to restore a broken life”: Supporting Hagar International, by Deirdre Dobson-Le

The Road Near Rio’s Olympic Village Where 9-year-old Girls are being Sold for Sex, by Candace Sutton

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Around a bend on one of Brazil’s longest highways, only a 50-minute drive from Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic village, girls as young as nine are selling their bodies to truck drivers for money.

Just a few miles from the glittering new stadiums where the world’s elite athletes are gathering to battle it out for Olympic gold is a shabby world of poverty, violence and child exploitation.

The BR-116 runs for 2800 miles between the World Cup stadium host city Fortaleza in the far north of Brazil to Brazil’s largest city Sao Paulo, where the Arena de Corinthians will stage Olympic soccer games in the south.

The road is nicknamed the Highway of Death (Rodovia da Morte) for its mortality rate due to many accidents and unstable weather and conditions along the route.

But its real misery occurs at 262 truck stops along its way, where female children are sold for sex, often by their own families, sometimes as part of a town’s unofficial bartering system.

ro 1Two underage sex slaves near the football stadium in Fortaleza, Brazil before the 2014 World Cup soccer. Picture: BBC. Source:Supplied

As more than 10,000 athletes and spectators fly in from around the world for the $10 billion 2016 summer Olympics, local activists are drawing attention to the reality of the young girls drawn into a life of sex slavery and drug addiction.

At Meninadanca, an organization established to stop the exploitation of at-risk girls in towns along the BR-116, the real life stories are mind blowing.

When a Meninadanca team visited the remote town of Candido Sales, which is bisected by the BR-116, they discovered that underage girls in the town were regularly offered to men as prizes in raffles.

(Related: How To Spot (And Rescue A Sex Trafficking Victim)

Trucks and heavy goods vehicles clog the road lined with bars and brothels through the town, just miles away from the dirt brick homes where Brazilian families live in poverty.

ro 2Child prostitutes as young as 11 work in this slum which lines the fence of the 2016 Olympic football stadium in Sao Paulo. Picture: Jota Roxo. Source:Supplied

Sex trafficking gangs target the town and poor families are vulnerable to offers of money for their little girls.

But even the Meninadanca workers were surprised when a town council psychologist told them raffles were held regularly with the winning ticket holder’s prize being the right to abuse a particular girl being sold.

The psychologist Gleyce Farias said “Candido Sales is a small town, but every day we hear of another girl who has been sold.

“I had to stop a mother from allowing her 12-year-old daughter to ‘marry’ a 60-year-old man, for money of course.

“Another 13-year-old girl ended up in hospital because of the abuses she suffered. She told us how from the age of nine she was made to watch pornographic films, and men would pay her to touch them.”

ro 3By the age of 13, Lilian (above) had been sold to truck drivers by her mother for $4 a time. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied

 

ro 4Leidiane, 11, worked on the BR-116 highway but became addicted to crack and couldn’t be saved. Picture: Matt Roper. Source:Supplied

As the Rio Olympics are now underway, Meninadanca is attempting to lure the world media’s attention away from the excitement of the games to the confronting scenes beyond.

Matt Roper, a journalist and author, has held a walk of the BR-116 and Meninadanca’s Facebook page has an “adopt a kilometer” program on me for each section of the highway to raise money for the non-government organization.

As the final preparations are made on Rio’s 32 sporting venues, and last minute concerns centre on the Zika virus, Russia’s doping ban and pollution at the Guanabara Bay sailing ground, Meninadanca is tying pink ribbons along the highway.

Roper has helped establish ‘pink house’ refuges for girls rescued from the highway, although he admits many times it is too late.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

http://fightthenewdrug.org/the-road-near-rios-olympic-village-where-9-year-old-girls-are-being-sold-for-sex-photos/

World Day Against Child Labour

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It’s World Day Against Child Labour (June 12th)! This year’s theme is “End child labour in supply chains – It’s everyone’s business!” You can check for the existence of child labour in the supply chains of products you use with the US Department of Labor’s “Sweat & Toil” app or via its “List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.” Share what you find!  https://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/

This website (at the link above) also has many other interesting, more detailed facts about the child labour and forced child labour used in the countries mentioned in the list, which is below.  Share this information.  All the children of the world are “our” children, all children deserve a childhood, an education and to be free from exploitation.

Link to a previous post on “The Forever Years” about Child Labour:  https://theforeveryears.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/2268/

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Jainal works in silver cooking pot factory in India. He is 11 years old. He has been working in this factory for three years. Source: http://kalyan-city.blogspot.co.nz/2009/07/child-labour-in-india-still-prevalent.html

Globally, as many as 168 million children between ages 5-17 are child labourers, with 85 million in hazardous child labour – forced labour, trafficking and bonded labour.(1) Children who work are often separated from their families, exposed to dangerous substances, harsh working conditions and higher risk of mistreatment, violence, physical and psychological abuse.(2) Child domestic workers are particularly vulnerable to trafficking, forced labour and sexual violence and many children face potential health consequences, including respiratory ailments, joint problems, loss of hearing and vision, poisoning(3) and sexually transmitted diseases.(4)  Many child labourers never go to school or drop out. Lack of access to education perpetuates a cycle of exploitation, illiteracy and poverty – limiting future options and forcing children to accept low wage work as adults and to raise their own children in poverty. Despite these consequences, there are still 46 countries(5) that do not legally protect children under the age of 18 from performing hazardous work. [Source: http://www.aworldatschool.org/issues/topics/Child-labour]

Thanks to Plan International NZ for drawing attention to this list via Facebook.  🙂

Links to Plan International and US Department of Labor’s List below…

https://www.childfund.org.nz/about-us?gclid=Cj0KEQjws_m6BRCv37WbtNmJs-IBEiQAWKKt0J_OzUBaKK9-MBLPJN4XDaYicAxtUz1MojlUjEX4CgUaAhK28P8HAQ

https://www.facebook.com/freefromviolence/?fref=nf&pnref=story

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Source:  https://www.dol.gov/ilab/reports/child-labor/list-of-goods/

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1 in 3 Human Trafficking Victims is a Child, By Ginger Kadlec

Trafficking or the concept of human rights violations.

The numbers are staggering…

(To read more, follow the link below…)

http://www.beakidshero.com/posts/1-3-human-trafficking-victims-is-a-child/

When You Realize That You Are Living Life in a Bubble, by Sarah Wilson

Read about how Hagar International transforms the lives of children rescued from trafficking.

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Like me, do you ever feel as if you live life in a bubble? Living in a bubble is perhaps defined as living safely in the confines of our comfort zone, with all the trappings of modern affluence. Recently I’ve wondered why is it that when bloggers blog about issues of poverty, trafficking or injustice, there is little interest. And I’ve come to the conclusion that it is because we are often overwhelmed with our own lives, and it’s simply too much to hear of the atrocities that are going on in the world. It’s not that we don’t care, it’s that we care too deeply and we simply can’t cope with the realities of the world’s brokenness.

But I’ve been challenged recently about living life in a bubble. And ignoring the snow forecasts, last night I ventured out into the cold, to hear an inspiring speaker. Sue is a…

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May 25th: International Missing Children’s Day

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By Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

Have you seen this Youtube clip, which has recently gone viral?

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Etan Patz

I thought it was a good one to embed here as I begin a post for International Missing Children’s Day, which is on 25th May.  Parents and carers should be aware that our kids love things such as puppies– they must be told NEVER to go with anyone (puppy, kitten or no) unless their parents agree.

International Missing Children’s Day is celebrated on May 25, the same day as the United States’ National Missing Children’s Day designated by Ronald Reagan in 1983.  On May 25th, 1979 Etan Patz (6) disappeared from a street corner in his New York neighbourhood while he was walking to school.  A photo of Etan, taken by his professional photographer father, generated national and international media attention and became a symbol of the missing children movement.  International Missing Children’s Day is now directed by the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN).

Just hearing Etan’s story makes shivers run down my spine.  He is the same age as my only brother: how must his family feel, never having known what happened to him or whether he is still alive out there somewhere?  I have a six year old son of my own– it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to imagine their child suddenly “vanishing”: the hole it must create and the anxiety mixed with uncertainty and hope are unfathomable.

etan-patzThe GMCN (Global Missing Children’s Networ) is a group of countries which connect, share best practices, and disseminate information and images of missing children to improve the effectiveness of missing children investigations.  The GMCN was launched in 1998 as a joint venture of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and the US’s National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).  The Network has 22 member countries: Albania, Argentina, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the US. [Source: Wikipedia].

It is estimated 8 million children are reported missing each year around the world– that’s twice the population of impactAotearoa/ New Zealand!  Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC, speaking on last year’s International Missing Children’s Day, said: “Every child deserves a safe childhood.  It is essential that governments around the world make a commitment to locate and recover missing children. They need to ensure rapid response to missing child cases and provide law enforcement with the resources and training they need for handling missing child cases” [Source: http://www.newstalk.com/Today-marks-International-Missing-Childrens-Day].
When I think of missing children, names like Madeline McCann come to mind and, of course, the abducted Nigerian school girls.  We hear the stories, see the faces on the news, and silently thank God that our own children are safe.

e7edc5cab21d06e506a7b2f634da7a8fEvery year on May 25, GMCN members pay respects to International Missing Children’s Day, honoring missing and abducted children, celebrating those who have been recovered, and, at the same time, spotlighting the issue of child abduction around the world and suggesting  steps parents and carers can take to protect their children.  The day  encourages everyone to think about children who remain missing and to spread a message of hope by releasing balloon. It celebrates the missing children who have found their way home and remembers those who have been victims of crime around the world.

Making our kids aware that children do go missing, all around the world and that we have an “International Missing Children’s Day,” and perhaps saying a prayer and releasing a balloon in honour of all the missing children– and to celebrate those who are no longer “missing” is a good start.  Unfortunately, this includes an awareness that not all adults are well-intentioned towards children, from which follows discussions about “stranger danger” (although not all abductors are necessarily strangers) and body safety awareness.  International Missing Children’s Day is a great opportunity to discuss such issues with our children, as well as to raise an awareness, around the globe, of children who are currently still “missing”.

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Little Bowden Primary school children (in the UK) release balloons during International Missing Children’s Day. (Picture: Andrew Carpenter/001377-90)

The following is a link to pictures of and information about children who are currently classified as “missing”, around the world.   Sometimes abductors take children to other countries, so any possible sightings of these children anywhere should be reported immediately.  We pray for their safe return.

http://www.icmec.org/missingkids/servlet/PublicHomeServlet

 

Other Related Links:

www.helpbringthemhome.org.au/

http://www.missingkids.com/GMCN

http://findmadeleine.com/missing_children/

http://listverse.com/2011/07/11/10-tragic-cases-of-missing-children/

 

 

 

Living in Danger: Albino Children in Tanzania

Found this a fascinating read… check it out. Hadn’t known before the traditional beliefs (and potentially grim consequences) associated with being born an albino child in Tanzania.  A friend of “The Forever Years” from Uganda, wrote this comment to this post:

All the albino people are really suffering in Tanzania and they are frequently abused by other people in the society. They use them as human sacrifice for satanic powers believing that the albino people can make one get rich if offered as a sacrifice.  This is terribly bad and now the same habit has been spreading: some people here in Uganda have developed this tendency. Lets all pray for our nations and pray that God should change their hearts.

Dr. Lorena Brownlee

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In December 2014, 4 year old Pendo Emmanuelle Nundi, an albino girl,  was kidnapped in northern Tanzania. Pendo Emmanuelle Nundi’s father and 2 uncles were among 15 people arrested for her abduction. Since 2009 many albino children have been placed in compound style homes as a desperate measure to protect them and although Islam and Christianity remain the main religions in Tanzania, 93% of the population still believe in witchcraft.

Witch Doctors now banned in Tanzania have spent generations spreading the heinous belief that albino body parts have magical properties that can increase wealth, power and success. Banning Witch Doctors in Tanzania is a step in the right direction but banning the ideology is far more difficult when it is so imbedded in the fabric of the society that even politicians believe it’s doctrine. With elections in October  the threat against albino people is a grave concern and children are…

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Trade of Innocents (Movie Review)

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Trade of Innocents  is a 2012 movie from the United States.  After enduring the tragic loss of their own daughter and only child, an American couple go to live and work in Cambodia where they become involved with preventing the illegal sale and trafficking of young girls into the sex trade.  Personally, I found this film resonated with me in light of experiences I had and people I met during my time living in South East Asia.  Cambodia is one of many countries favoured by  pedophile tourists because of the vulnerability, due to poverty, of its children.  Cambodia’s tragic history, including the rule of the Khmer Rouge from 1975-1979, has created a “young population”, as many of the older generation were killed during the genocide.

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The inspiration for Trade of Innocents came from a combination of the director (Christopher Bessette) and his trip to Phnom Penh (Cambodia’s capital), and a similar trip by the producers, Bill and Laurie Bolthouse. These three later came together to make the movie, which was filmed in Bangkok– supposedly because Cambodian authorities were not happy with the idea of filming the movie in their country.

Cambodia is far from being the only place where women and girls are treated as commodities. But in this country of 15 million people, the demand for virgins is big business that thrives due to cultural myth and other local factors. “Many Asian men, especially those over 50, believe sex with virgins gives them magical powers to stay young and ward off illness,” says Chhiv Kek Pung, president of Cambodia’s leading human rights organisation, Licadho. “There’s a steady supply of destitute families for the trade to prey on here, and the rule of law is very weak.”

The belief that sex with virgins increases male vigour has long held sway among powerful men in Asia, including Chairman Mao and North Korea’s Kim dynasty. “Unlike sex- tourist paedophiles who seek out children under 10 years old, local men don’t care so much about a virgin’s age – only her beauty and the fact she’s pure,” says Pung. Parents who sell their daughters’ virginity have little concept of child rights. “They regard their offspring as their property.”

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Based on Licadho’s work inside communities, Pung estimates that “many thousands” of virgins aged between 13 and 18 are sold every year. As well as rich Cambodians, men from countries such as China, Singapore and Thailand are regular buyers, too. “They travel here on business and have everything prearranged by brokers: a five-star hotel, a few rounds of golf and a night or two with a virgin,” says Eric Meldrum, a former police detective from the UK who now works as an anti-exploitation consultant in Phnom Penh.  

(Source: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/06/virginity-for-sale-cambodia-sex-trade).

Child prostitutes to pedophile tourists are predominantly girls, although boy children are also involved. Child sex tourism is an internationally-recognized human rights problem, and it’s a growing one: UNICEF estimates that, around the world, about two million children are sexually exploited each year.

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I believe this movie is important in raising awareness about the plight of child prostitutes and those trafficked, not only in Cambodia, but around the world.  Some critics believe the acting could be “stronger” and the film has been rated at two and a half stars or 5.3 out of ten, or thereabouts, in various reviews.  Personally, I feel these ratings are rather harsh. Trade of Innocents is a dramatic thriller and the pace and anticipation are kept going throughout.  The movie also does well in conveying a sense of the reality and layers of complexity which underlie the child prostitution industry.

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One example of this is when Dermot Mulroney (who plays Alex, the American husband) is talking with Cambodian police officers and mentions that not all the young women trafficked into brothels are Khmer– some are from surrounding countries such as Thailand, Vietnam or Laos and have been taken from their own homes because it is harder for them to resist or escape when they are unable to speak the local language and have no legal status in Cambodia.  One young officer says, “I thought we were talking about our Khmer people?”.  The point the movie is trying to make, I believe, is that it is not about “helping one’s own people”, but about focusing on the problem and its far reaching effects on the young victims, regardless of their race, nationality or culture.  Police corruption is another complex layer, realistically depicted in the film.

728654_050One of the most chillingly realistic characters in the film is the American pedophile tourist played by Tom Billingsley, the man who says he would “prefer the seven year old.”  I personally felt my skin crawl seeing a scene in which he takes a phone call from his wife and passes on his “love” to his children– whilst in a restaurant with a young Cambodian girl he has “bought”.

Mira Sorvino (who plays Claire, the American wife) has had a longtime interest in supporting the cause of ending human trafficking and child prostitution. When asked about being in Trade of Innocents she said that “I felt it could be a powerful combination of my activist efforts and my artistic ventures.” (Source Wikipedia).  

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The title Trade of Innocents for this film could also be Trade of Innocence– at times I have forgotten which one it is– perhaps that is a deliberate ploy (and a clever one) on the part of the movie’s creators.  Scenes of the two youngest Cambodian girls drawing pictures add weight to the title and to the fact that the theme of this movie is the destruction of the innocence of childhood/ forever years through exploitation and abuse.  “The Forever Years” blog highly recommends this film, it is informative and is certainly also a “must see” for anyone concerned about preventing child prostitution and trafficking.

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Rating : PG-13 (for disturbing thematic material involving sex trafficking of children, and some violence)

View Trailer…

 Related Links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trade_of_Innocents

http://mic.com/articles/76915/why-young-cambodian-girls-are-being-sold-into-sex-slavery-and-how-we-stop-it

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/12/09/world/asia/cambodia-cfr-mira-sorvino-karaoke-brothels/

 

See other stories on this blog:

“Mai and the Man” A short story.

 

“Sleeping Child”: a song for all our children…

Sleepin Child Collage FY

Sleeping Child” is a single by the Danish soft rock band Michael Learns to Rock, from the 1993 album Colours.  We at “The Forever Years” love this song!  It epitomises our ethos that all the children of the world are our children.  We are all part of the Global Family.  Those of us who are adults in this family have a duty and responsibility towards all our children, particularly those who are vulnerable.  How would the world look if all our adults took a serious and personal interest in this responsibility?

We have created a “Forever Years Video” to go with these lyrics (click below).  The lyrics to the song Sleeping Child” were written by Jascha Richter and are printed below, after the video. We will also include this song on our “Music” page, where you can find other songs which we feel represent “The Forever Years”.    Sit back and enjoy!  We dedicate this, along with our blog, to our Global Family and Children…

The Milky Way upon the heavens
Is twinkling just for you
And Mr. Moon, he came by
To say goodnight to you

I’ll sing for you, I’ll sing for mother
We’re praying for the world
And for the people everywhere
Gonna show them all we care

Oh, my sleeping child the world’s so wild
But you’ve built your own paradise
That’s one reason why
I’ll cover you, sleeping child

If all the people around the world
They had a mind like yours
We’d have no fighting and no wars
There would be lasting peace on Earth

If all the kings and all the leaders
Could see you here this way
They would hold the Earth in their arms
They would learn to watch you play

Oh, my sleeping child the world’s so wild
But you’ve built your own paradise
That’s one reason why
I’ll cover you, sleeping child

I’m gonna cover my sleeping child
Keep you away from the world so wild
Keep you away from the world
Away from the world so wild

Oh, my sleeping child the world’s so wild
But you’ve built your own paradise
That’s one reason why
I’ll cover you, sleeping child

Oh, my sleeping child the world’s so wild
But you’ve built your own paradise
That’s one reason why
I’ll cover you, sleeping child

Bear bub FY

The Sleeping Children Around the World online community

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“The Forever Years” has discovered this great charity for helping children to sleep around the world: “Sleeping Children Around the World”.
Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW) donations provide bedkits to children of any race and/or religion who will benefit the most; typically being located in underdeveloped and developing countries.

No portion of a bedkit donation is spent on administration — 100% reaches a needy child. Each *$35 donation (Canadian funds) provides a bedkit that consists of a mat or mattress, pillow, sheet, blanket, mosquito net (if applicable), clothes outfit, and school supplies. Bedkit contents vary from country to country depending upon local needs.

Since its founding by Murray and Margaret Dryden in 1970, SCAW has raised over $23 million to provide bedkits for children in 33 countries. In 2009 SCAW reached their millionth child.

Every child is photographed with the bedkit, showing the donor’s name/country (or special occasion message) on a label.

Each photograph is then mailed back to the original donor, providing a timeless way for the donor to remember the child who so greatly benefited from their generosity.

Follow link: http://scaw.thankyou4caring.org/