Posted by: bklunk | March 25, 2007

They Weren’t Expendable

Maybe the depressing thought here is that, contrary to the assertion below, the avenues taken to end the use of child soldiers are working as well as might reasonably be expected.  A lot of us try to be glass-half-full optimists, but what if this is the glass as full as it can be?

Child Kamakizees

Last night I was at debate practice, and one of my team members was looking up a good topic for a persuasive speech.  We all got on the topic of child soldiers, and decided to look up some additional information about the topic.  As we were searching, one of our teammates found a picture that had been published in the BBC of of baby strapped to a bomb.  The infant was a Kamakizee.  We were all appalled.  This child had been sentenced to be die so that others could die as well.  However, unlike other kamakizees, this child had no idea what stance it was taking, or what ideals it was upholding by dying in this manner.  I think this is the worst part about this whole problem because normally, when kamakizees are adults, they have had the oppertunity to think the whole thing through before sacraficing their own lives.  A young child however, it not at an age that can make this kind of a decision, and is probably hardly of what they are doing.  They are not sure that what they are strapped to, is not only going to kill them, but also kill others, and change the lives of many more.

While this picture was depressing, I think the worst part about this entire experience was knowing that there are very few things that can be done in order to prevent things like this from happening.  I know that in previous blogs I have discussed the different avenues that states and non-state actors are taking to ensure that child soldiers are outlawed around the world.  However, with things like this picture being broadcasted across the internet it’s obvious that these avenues aren’t working as efficiently as they could be.  This is also evident in places like DRC, where even after state officials have been convicted for child soldiers, these young children are still being forced into environments like this.  I am interested in what new ideas will be brought to the table in the next few years to prevent these kinds of things from occuring.

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  1. I am curious about where and when that picture was taken. Obviously, it is unacceptable and horrific anywhere, but I’m curious whether that is a recent picture, or something that’s been stopped as of late. In any case, this touches on the very sad issue of using children as soldiers, or weapons, in the aforementioned instance. For quite a long time, children have been tapped as labor, going to work in fields and factories; sewing clothes, picking vegetables, and mining diamonds. As consumers want more accountability for how and where their products are being made available to them, it is becoming more evident, and less tolerated, that children are behind much labor. Clearly, child labor is abhorrent, along with child soldiers. I am in no way defending child labor. However, as Americans living in a relatively privileged society, we often forget that for some families, everyone, including children, have to work to bring in income. Is this preferable? Absolutely not.

    While the rest of the developed world shakes its heads in disapproval, perhaps we should be trying to change it. Not buying products from companies known to use child labor is a start. However, maybe we need to consider trying to restructure the economies that force children into labor in the first place. Obviously it can not be an effort that the U.S. pushes on its own. It has to be a collective effort by the international community, especially those countries who rely on child labor. The tricky part will be convincing said countries to completely restructure their economies and way of life, in order to do away with child labor. It won’t be easy. It may not even be completely feasible. And yet, for the children who are robbed of their childhood and education, it seems worth trying for.

  2. I completely agree with the previous comment, that, to get rid of child labor and the use of children as soldiers in the world, it is important to help restructure the economies of those countries that depend on it. While it may seem like an impossible task, there are programs out there that are are helping this issue. I was able to visit Bangladesh because my church helps fund a hospital and the establishment of women’s savings groups in the country. The women’s savings groups teach women to read and write, as well different strategies for saving money so that they don’t need to be completely dependent on men. We got to talk to one women who had five children and whose husband had left her. With the help of the savings group, all of her children were able to attend school instead of working all day. There are also microlending programs that lend an amount of money to one person of a community to invest in some way, and once the first person has earned the money back he/she passes it on to the next person and so on until everyone in the community has had the chance to invest in something. These programs have had a good success rate because each person knows that he/she will be held accountable by the rest of the group to pay the money back. I think that it would be smart to get more people involved in these kinds of programs, because then the people are essentially helping themselves.

  3. I too agree with the previous postings. It is horrible that an infant was strapped to a bomb, and used as a Kamakizee, and I think even though adults to give their consent, it is not a humane thing to do. Children in less-developed and and poverty sricken countries endure so much. Whether they are being forced into sexual acts and trafficking, or whether they are used to labor excricating hours in a field, they are so poorly treated. Then, to have an infant sentenced to death so that others could die, and then strap it to a bomb is appaling.

    Now it is so easy to sit back, anf think these thoughts about the tragedy of such a situation, but I too feel that it is important to help restructure and supprt the economy of crumbling countries. Yes, it is a very large task that seems impossible to accomplish, and there are steps being taken, but I think situations like this only make it necessary to take more action.

  4. It is so unfortunate to hear about children being forced to give up their lives for a cause they are too young to understand. Being an American it is such a strange concept of having children be sent into the working world basically when they are old enough to walk. While the idea of a toddler strapped to a bomb is horrifying, it is by no means a new phenomenon. For years pictures have been taken in war torn nations of the boy soilders, who are leading armies because the adults have been killed. This is not to mention the sold sold who are sold into slavery and child prostitution. What that picture is indicative of is a larger probelm. Families are so poor in these countries that they cannot afford to have a family member not working, no matter how young they may be.

    It feels there needs to be a solution to this problem. If it were as easy as giving more money to these countries to help families in poverty, the problem seems like it should be taken care of. Unfortunately so many countries who have these problems are already recieving foreign aid. Yet, no matter how much money is sent the citizens of these countries do not seem to be better off. Further, the resources are so segregated that there become small pockets of weath (in many instances) while the larger country is very much in poverty. For example, Venezuela which recieves billions in debt, has citizens either in the top of the income brakcet or the very bottom. Maybe the solution to the issues os child abuse and child labor will come when governments began to be held accountable to their people.

  5. Uganda is a prime example for the use of child soldiers in war. In 1987, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a quasi- religious insurgent group from northern Uganda recruited children in their efforts to wage civil war. In fact, as Gail Robinson stated in Great Decisions 2007, “According to Human Rights Watch, 300,000 children in 30 different countries participate in armed conflict.” Considering that in an anarchic international system there is no world police or truly legitimate international court system, it depends on countries such as the U.S. to provide an example for countries such as Uganda. However, under the current Bush administration we have not seemed to address the rights of vulnerable children as member of the U.N. or as a world power.
    The UN has shown great concern and taken action regarding children rights. In 1989, a UN Committee on the Rights of Child established that children are human beings with rights and monitor that countries abstain from child armed conflict and sexual exploitation of children. According to Robinson, the U.S. is the one of two countries (the second being Somalia) that has not ratified the treaty.
    Although the U.S. has refused to step up to the plate, as U.S. citizens we can take action. The main way we can assist in improving the conditions of these countries is to participate in the Millennium Development goals program. More specifically, advocating and providing funding for a quality education system will assure that children receive protection in schools rather than recruitment by the army. Traveling to these countries as college students and describing conditions to our elected officials may also prompt our government to work on behalf of the rights of children in countries in the South.

  6. It is absolutely unbelievable to hear about an infant being attached to a bomb. As if it isn’t bad enough that children are in complete poverty and suffer from the lack of hunger and sanitation in countries like these where this is happening, but the children are being treated even worse by being attached to a bomb and being treated as ammo. Who does that? Not only is it inhumane, but simply cruel. I can only wonder if people there think of it to be as bad as I or anyone else here in the US do. We. a country that does force employment or a kind of work for a children under sixteen and them, or any country in that area, employ their children at the moment they can walk, or simply speak. It’s a very disturbing issue.

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