Boat people, 1981. Girls and women raped, tortured, thrown into the sea. Creation of the International Committee Against Piracy. Guatemala, 1983. Girls raped, adults massacred, Indians annihilated. To feed, treat and clothe the orphans, as well as the big girls who no longer have to prostitute themselves to survive.
The world’s forgotten ones
Little old men and women, completely destitute. A population forgotten for centuries: food, medical care, support for schooling. Little old lady living alone at home: coal for her stove in winter. A young paraplegic woman living with her sick mother: the wherewithal to improve her daily life. Alerted to their distress, how can we pass them by?
In the South of India, many children are sacrificed at birth, especially girls. Because they «cost too much” in traditional ceremonies, clothes, jewellery, and then the dowry, often an unbearable amount for the poor and the family-in-law will demand additions to this throughout her life. To save from death the little girl ready to be killed at birth, then give her the means to live.
Guilty or having had, or been forced to have, intimate relations that their milieu condemns, young girls or women are persecuted or killed “to avenge family honour”. Rejected by their families and by society, they have the choice of suicide, infanticide or prostitution. Saving these martyrs and welcoming them to other lands.
Aurore, from the name of the first woman who came to tell us that she would like to change her “profession”: the most terrifying and primitive form of prostitution for survival. Close accompaniment, infinite patience. Various forms of help, professional training. Nurseries for the little ones, food, healthcare, protection and tenderness.
The Trokosi slaves
Trokosi: a young virgin offered to the god of a sanctuary in atonement for a fault committed by a member of her family, who would otherwise be forever cursed. In reality, she is handed over to the priest of this sanctuary, who will use her sexually as he wishes for many years, or her whole life. Negotiations with a view to the definitive liberation of about forty of the little girls were brought to a satisfactory conclusion.
Children abducted by one of their parents. In spite of laws that give custody of the child to one or the other. Attempt everything to bring the child back to the parent who cries for him all his life. The powerlessness, the slowness or the lack of courage of the powers that be made our help necessary, often effective, to the parent and to the child martyr.
Children victims of paedophiles
This is not prostitution born by chance from the passage of foreigners, but the commercial transport of tourists who are sexual consumers of children by organised groups of western paedophiles. Warnings to tourists on their arrival. The search for and dismantling of paedophile organisations.
In 1983, during the assault on Iraq, Iranian child soldiers were driven forward to be massacred in order to open the way for the main body of the army. Thousands of them died. Hundreds of others became prisoners of the Iraqis. Sentinelles negotiated the liberation of about a hundred of these children, inviting several Islamic countries to take them in on a temporary basis.
They are six or seven years old and more. They come from the country, from poor parents who give their little girl “a chance” by placing her in town. Doing the housework, the cooking, getting up early, going to bed late. And when they grow up, putting up with the men of the house. Pregnant, they are thrown out. Emotional support, food aid, professional training.
Children of the rubbish dump
All day long women, men and children pick up and sort through the recyclable refuse that they can sell for a few réals. Sentinelles worked to free these children by giving them the means: food, medical treatment, a crèche, schooling and professional training for the older ones.
Child coal miners
The freeing of these slave children, subterranean beasts of burden, in danger at all times of the mine collapsing on them, exploding or catching fire, risking their lives for a starvation wage, was negotiated with their parents. Hundreds of them were given back their childhood, with the means to have the decent life due to them: food, medical care, schooling, a profession and the means to practise it.
Sexual mutilation and forced marriage
With a knife, a stone, a razorblade, a piece of glass, in a festive atmosphere or in terror, millions of little girls and adolescents are sexually mutilated. Ignorant, consenting or by force. Whatever the mutilation practised, there is suffering, even agony, and always an attack on human integrity. When it does not lead to death. The survivors, not yet completely developed, are more often than not married by force.
Taking the young girls who do not want to submit to this to safety and long-term accompaniment to keep them out of harm’s way and preserve their integrity. Medical care and surgical procedures when necessary. Raising awareness with the parents and communities, as well as in schools.
In order to live and to grow a child is totally dependent on adults and, if he is always their “property”, he is also often their prey. The prey and property of active or passive torturers, close to them or distant, parents, family, milieu. States and their institutions, religious powers, customs, etc.
The crushing of a child, whose suffering and death are less important to the deciders than safeguarding families and ideologies.
Deathblows with immediate or delayed effect. Incest, rape. Torture, lack of medical treatment, negligence. Permanent humiliation, deprivation. All forms of brutality or subtle sadism. Snatch him out of his misfortune.
Children, big boys, big girls, in prison or in detention or “reeducation” centres. A few weeks, months or years. Forgotten or punished. Serious offences, minor misdemeanours, or nothing at all. But sentences that are often heavy and long. They are there because they have nowhere else to go.
In prison, feed them more, give them medical treatment, love them more. Listen to them, get to know them, gain their confidence. And work towards their freedom.
Outside, take them in and slowly, patiently, teach them how to live and from what. By giving them the means. Do all that we can so that they do not fall back into the same misfortune.