Save the children

Friday, 11 November 2011 From Issue Vol. XIX No. 45

Dear Editor:

Although I routinely receive emails and letters from Amnesty International I am sometimes so shocked by what I read that I feel compelled to contact the media.

In a recent letter Amnesty writes: “Speak Out Against Child Rape. In Nicaragua girls between 13 and l5 are common victims and in the majority of cases their rapists are their fathers, grandfathers, uncles or cousins.”

“Ukuthwala is a traditional practice of forced marriage in South Africa. Girls as young as 12 are paid for and then raped.”

“In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, young girls abducted by armed groups are used as sex slaves and forced domestic help.”

And “Speak out against Child Soldiers” The Taliban in Kabul recently used an 8-year old girl as a suicide bomber.

“In Somalia, boys 10 to l5 are abducted from streets and classrooms by the Islamic group al-Shabab to fight. Refusing ‘recruitment’ means risking death.”

But Amnesty says we can make a difference. “When a young women was gang-raped by seven men in Saudi Arabia, she was sentenced to six months in prison and 200 lashes for being alone in private with a member of the opposite sex who was not an immediate family member. Yet our concern for the young women was heard and the girl’s imprisonment and flogging sentence was dropped.”

Readers can contact Amnesty International, 5 Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10001, USA and ask to sign their petition to Hillary Clinton and U.S Ambassador Susan Rice urging them to support the effort to end these atrocities against children.

Eric Bahrt

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