MADRID, Nov 21 (IPS) – An indisputable truth is that no child has ever chosen where they want to be born, what skin color they want to have, what ethnic community they want to belong to, what religion they want to practice and what language they speak , or how safe or dangerous the context is to grow up in. A child is the most innocent and defenseless human being.
Yet children everywhere and every day easily fall prey to all kinds of cruelty. See how.
Racism and discrimination against children based on their ethnicity, language and religion are rife in countries around the world, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said ahead of this year’s World Children’s Day on November 20.
In its report: Rights Denied: The Impact of Discrimination on Children, the world’s largest agency advocating children’s rights, reveals the staggering impact of discrimination on children and the extent to which racism and discrimination affect their education, health, access to a registered birth, and to a fair and equal legal system.
It also points to widespread differences between minorities and ethnic groups.
A lifetime of pain: “Systematic racism and discrimination puts children at risk of deprivation and exclusion that can last a lifetime,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “This hurts us all.”
Ethnicity, language, religion: The report shows that children from marginalized ethnic, linguistic and religious groups, from 22 low- and middle-income countries analyzed, lag far behind their peers in reading literacy.
Falling behind: On average, students aged seven to 14 from the most advantaged group are more than twice as likely to have basic reading skills than students from the least advantaged group.
A UNICEF analysis of data on the level of children registered at birth – a prerequisite for access to basic rights – found significant differences between children of different religious and ethnic groups.
Black children are not children: In their reporting to the UN General Assembly on November 8, 2022, UN human rights experts explained that children of African descent are “not considered children at all, even in the eyes of the law.”
“The unresolved legacies of trade and commerce in enslaved Africans, as well as colonialism, post-colonial apartheid and segregation, continue to harm these children today.”
Hardship: Discrimination and exclusion exacerbate intergenerational deprivation and poverty, leading to poorer health, nutrition and learning outcomes for children, increased likelihood of incarceration, higher pregnancy rates among adolescent girls, and lower employment rates and wages in adulthood.
‘Poverty’, humiliation, stigma: Like racism and sexism, “poverty” should be illegal, said Olivier de Schutter in his recent report to the World Organization, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights.
“People are stereotyped and discriminated against purely because they are poor. This is downright sickening and a blot on our society.”
It goes without saying that children are among the most affected by impoverishment, humiliation and stigma.
No immunization: As COVID-19 has exposed deep injustice and discrimination around the world, and the impacts of climate change and conflict continue to expose inequalities in many countries, UNICEF is highlighting how discrimination and exclusion have long persisted for millions of children from ethnic and minority groups, including access to immunization, water and sanitation services,
Condemned to the darkness of ignorance: More than two-thirds of 10-year-olds cannot read and understand a simple text. And there are still 244 million children out of school, while educational centers are the victims of armed attacks.
More shocking findings
In addition to all the atrocities already reported against the most innocent and defenseless people – the children – many more crimes are committed amid worldwide impunity.
The following are just a few tragic examples.
A billion children experience some form of emotional, physical or sexual violence each year.
Every seven minutes, a child dies from violence.
Millions of children have been displaced by armed conflict. These children are at high risk of serious violations in and around camps and other places of refuge.
Drowned, abandoned, stranded: Children are often forced to migrate with their parents to flee armed conflicts, severe droughts, floods and landslides that they did not cause. On their journey to hell, children drown, and those who survive are often separated from their families and left behind at the border.
Violence without borders: violence against children knows no boundaries of culture, class or education. It takes place against children in institutions, schools and at home. Peer violence is also a concern, as is the rise in cyberbullying.
Isolation, loneliness, fear: Children exposed to violence live in isolation, loneliness and fear, not knowing where to turn for help, especially when the perpetrator is a loved one.
Hunted in refugee camps: Criminal groups that trade with the lives of the weakest go to refugee camps to hunt defenseless children and youth for human trafficking, smuggling, slavery and making money from selling their organs.
Slavery: Millions of children are forced into forced labor and do extremely dangerous work. And 70% of boys and girls living in rural areas are workers.
All these crimes against innocent children are being committed. And go unpunished.
No wonder the world is so busy talking about guns, wars, oil, gas, carbon, the concentration of food markets, more technology and how we can further expand the digitization of all aspects of life.
© Inter Press Service (2022) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service