·In an undeclared and unofficial all out war across the world millions of children have fallen victims to wars, poverty, greed and profiteering, hunger and disease, religion and backward customs and practices. UNICEF has declared that currently around 250 million children are forced to work simply to feed their families and themselves. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has stated that in China alone over 13 million children between the ages of 10 and 14 are forced to work. ILO also reports that each year 10,000 children are sold into slavery in western and central Africa. In Avery Coast the price of child-slave to work on the farms is between $50 to $75.
·60% of children in Nepal, 25% in Bangladesh, 44 million children in India, 12 million in Nigeria and 200,000 in Thailand are part of the work force in world. ·In Iran according to the press, 25% of family income is generated by children. ·Millions of children are exploited in the sex trade and are sexually abused. The annual turnover from children sex trade is estimated at $5 billion. International Food Agency has announced that over 300 million children are suffering from hunger. One million children are suffering from AIDS. ·The extend of children abuse at the hands of the clergy men within the Catholic church establishment in America and Europe brought to light this year has shocked the public. Each year over two million child-girls are genitally mutilated in Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somali and Sudan. ·In Djibouti and Somali 98% of girls are mutilated and this barbaric custom is practised in 28 countries. Reports have confirmed that in the past decade over 30 million children have suffered injuries in various forms. ·Over 120 million children mostly in the “ third world countries” are deprived of primary education. ·Amnesty International has reported that annually hundreds of girls and women fall victim to “honour killings” in Pakistan. ·To add to all these are numerous cases of children suffering from post war incidents including land mines and unexploded bombs.
This is a man made world. This is the world made for children not by God or through fate. This dreadful reality is avoidable. This world is a killing field for children but not their doomed destiny. Fate, natural disasters and God are irrelevant. One such a case is the massacre of children in Iraq. Hundred of thousands of children have perished as a result of a deliberate and conscious implementation of a United Nations resolution. The economic sanction of Iraq in its first ten years has taken the lives of 500,000 of children under the age of 5 years.
Another such a case is the religious and honour killings. The verdicts for such murders have already been issued. Nasir, a fourteen year old boy, and Shamim, a ten-year-old girl from Pakistan are two victims of these backward beliefs. Amnesty International in a Press release issued last November reported that Nasir and Shamim were killed at the hands of their relatives apparently for seeing Nasir drying his shirt while Shamim was asleep nearby.
Above examples and statistics paint a picture of a world that is built on greed, profiteering, exploitation, suppression, discrimination and religion. The architects of this world are the capitalists and their states. The first victims of this world are its most vulnerable members. Children deserve a better, more prosperous and humane world. This world needs to be put right.
We, the participants of Children First’s conference in Stockholm, Sweden, strongly deplore all forms of economic, sexual, military, emotional and religious abuse of children in all parts of the world and resolve do our utmost to put an end to this abhorrent form of human destruction and exploitation.
We call upon all concerned and progressive organisations, institutions, political parties and individuals to join our ranks and together fight against all aspects of child abuse. Defending the rights of children is the first step towards defending human rights. We hold governments and ruling parties and the United Nations responsible for the current inhumane condition and its continuation.
The way a society treats its children is the most telling testimony to Itshumanity and liberty. Children must come first above any national, economic, political, ideological, and religious considerations and interests. This conference is a small step towards reaching a collective commitment and finding effective ways of achieving it.
Children First, 5 – 6 September 2002, Stockholm, Sweden
By: Soraya Shahabi, Chair Person if Children First