Category Archives: Poverty

Philippine Children in Crisis

Philippine children, Author US Marines from Arlington, VA, Source flickr (PD as work product of federal govt.)

The Duterte Administration of the Philippines has resorted to mass arrests in its war on drugs, and is planning to broaden that hard line approach to include children [1][2].

New legislation would impose mandatory prison terms of up to 12 years on children as young as 9 y.o.  The children of the poor will be most heavily impacted, since they are more likely to join drug gangs in an effort to survive.

The US State Dept. website describes our nation’s relationship with the Philippines as “based on strong historical and cultural links and a shared commitment to democracy and human rights [3].”

According to the non-profit Human Rights Watch, however, conditions at government facilities for children are already inhumane.  This is particularly true at Bahay Pag-asa (“House of Hope”).  Locked in cages, children there suffer from skin infections suggesting inadequate diet and sanitation.

“I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me’ ” (Matt. 25: 36).

[1]  The Defender Magazine, Spring 2019, “Children in Crisis:  A Report from the Philippines”.

[2]  New York Times, “Philippine Law Would Make 9-Year-Olds Criminally Liable” by Jason Gutierrez, 1/22/19, https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/asia/philippines-juvenile-justice-law.html.

[3]  US Department of State, “US Relations with the Philippines”, 7/17/18, https://www.state.gov/u-s-relations-with-the-philippines/.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Forced Panhandling

“The Old Beggar” by Louis Dewar (1916) (PD-Art, PD-Old)

Leaders of the non-denominational Imperial Valley Ministries appear to have devised a new form of clergy abuse.  They are alleged to have imprisoned dozens of homeless, forcing them to panhandle 9 hours/day on the church’s behalf [1].

The church’s programs are billed as drug rehabilitation.  Destitute men and women were lured with offers of free food and shelter, along with promises of the funds to return home.  Instead, victims were required to adhere to strict rules, and denied food if they disobeyed.

Church members held them captive in group homes with deadbolts, taking their identification documents from them.  In some locations, windows were, also, nailed shut.

Meanwhile, church leaders stole Food Stamps and Welfare benefits from victims, threatening to remove children, if their parents tried to leave.  Others were told their loved ones had abandoned them and only God loved them.

Whatever this was, it was not Christianity.

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘…have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matt. 7: 21-23).

[1]  USA Today, “A church needed money, so members held homeless people captive and forced them to beg, prosecutors say” by N’dea Yancey-Bragg, 9/11/19, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/09/11/church-held-homeless-people-hostage-forced-them-beg-feds-say/2285143001.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Precious

A good-for-nothing man is an evil-doer; he goes on his way causing trouble with false words…” (Prov. 6: 12).

Baby girl, you are so precious.  You are so precious, you don’t even know.  Your Mama and I loved you from the moment she brought you into this world.  Even before that.  Your Daddy left early on, but we loved you just the same.

We rocked you, walked the floors with you when you were teething, saw you take your first step.  We cooked for you, we mended your clothes.  We saw you on the bus that first day of school.  You were so pretty, your hair all done up in ribbons.  Maybe you can’t remember, but I do.

You and I, we lost your Mama to hard work, then no work, then those devil drugs.  You must have asked me a million times where she was, on those nights she didn’t come home to us.  But she loved you.  She tried her best.  It just wasn’t enough in this cruel world.

Your Mama tried to help you with your lessons, in the beginning, taught you one and one makes two.  Do you remember that?  It was just that the lessons she had to learn were harder – lessons about hard men, and the hard road a woman faces alone.

Now you want to run after this man!  This good-for-nothing man?!  You think he’s going to give you something you don’t already have?  He doesn’t want to give.  All he wants to do is take from you.  Take your hips, take your fresh young face, take your smile.  But you believe his promises, promises as empty as noise.

Is it because your Daddy wasn’t there to tell you how special you are?  Is it because you didn’t see yourself in his eyes?  We tried, your Mama and I, tried to tell you that, tried to show you every which way we could.  Try and remember, baby girl. Continue reading

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Filed under Christianity, Poverty, Prostitution, Religion, Violence Against Women

Lost on the Wind

Native American Woman, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, CA, Accession No. 2003.003.040  (PD)

There is a haunting exhibit outside the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC [1].  Red dresses flutter in the wind.  They represent the thousands of indigenous women killed or missing in this country.

The topic of abuse among Native Americans does not generate much publicity.  The House of Representatives, Subcommittee for Indigenous Peoples, recently held a hearing on the subject.  Grandly titled “Unmasking the Hidden Crisis of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women:  Exploring Solutions to End the Cycle of Violence”, the hearing received little press.

What we know is that the murder rate for American Indian and Native Alaskan women on tribal lands is 10 times the national average.  Over 5700 were reported murdered or missing in 2016 alone.

Of that number a mere fraction – 116 to be precise – made it to a Dept. of Justice database.  In point of fact, there is no national database that reliably tracks these women.

Poverty is deeply rooted on the reservation.  Existence there is spare in the best of times.  That may be a factor contributing to the violence.

Other problems include jurisdictional confusion as among federal, state, and tribal agencies; the all too frequent dismissal by law enforcement of reports of missing women struggling with addiction or other issues; and a focus by sex traffickers on Native American women as “exotic”.

These were all real women.  Each and every one of them had a name; had a mother.  Each had hopes and dreams.  But their voices are lost on the wind now.

[1]  Washington Post, “Red dresses flutter, empty, on the National Mall and this is why they should haunt us” by  Theresa Vargas, 3/16/19,  https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/red-dresses-flutter-empty-on-the-national-mall-and-this-is-why-they-should-haunt-us/2019/03/15/715d6f14-4753-11e9-aaf8-4512a6fe3439_story.html?utm_term=.bccceb52d7bd.

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

 

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Filed under domestic abuse, domestic violence, Poverty, racism, sex trafficking, Slavery, Violence Against Women

Sex Tourism

Detail from painting at Casa del Centenario, Pompeii (PD)*

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was known for its hedonism.  Archaeologic evidence has been found of numerous brothels.  Erotic art was common in homes.  Phallic symbols were used all over the city, as signs of fertility and good fortune [1].

This may sound titillating to us.  We have not though progressed far, in the centuries since.  Sex tourism is widely advertised today.  Greece, Spain, the Netherlands, Brazil, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Thailand, and Cambodia are among the countries that derive income from it [2].

Those who plan their vacations around the sexual activities – legal and illegal – available in foreign countries are unlikely to consider their impact on the local men, women, and children selling their bodies (and souls) to survive. Continue reading

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Life

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them” (Ps. 139: 16).

Abuse survivors have not always experienced life at its best.  But life remains a priceless gift.  We must cherish it.

Mother Teresa (standing all of 4’11” and weighing less than 100 lbs) worked among the poorest of the poor in India.  Yet she maintained a positive view of life.  The poem below is by her.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.”

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Shelter

“Unaccompanied minors” at south Texas border, Author US Customs and Border Protection (PD as work product of US Dept. of Homeland Security)

Levian Pacheco of Casa Kokopelli – one of eight federally funded private shelters Southwest Key operates in Arizona – has been accused of sexually molesting at least 8 migrant boys between the ages of 15 and 17 at that facility [1].

Fernando Negrete, also employed by Southwest Key, has meanwhile been charged with groping a 14 year old migrant girl [2].

The Arizona Dept. of Health has cited Casa Kokopelli for failure to complete background checks on employees.  Yet, Southwest Key has received over $1 billion in funds for its shelters.

Police nationwide have responded to hundreds of calls reporting sex crimes against immigrant children held by the government at shelters.

Tragically, this is not the only situation in which illegal immigrants are vulnerable to exploitation.  Fleeing poverty and violence, an estimated 17,000 to 19,000 immigrants are trafficked into the United States each year [3]. Continue reading

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The Rights of a Child

Children being treated by Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets after chemical attack.  Photo courtesy of Associated Press.

WARNING:  Graphic Images

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is an international agreement which lays out the social, economic, cultural, civil, and political rights of children everywhere.  Since its adoption in 1989, the Convention has been signed by 194 countries.  But its interpretation and adherence vary widely across the globe.

Under the Convention, every child – boy or girl – has the right to life and survival; to protection against violence, abuse, and neglect; and to an education.

Right to Life

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb
” (Ps. 139: 13).

The American Convention on Human Rights declares human life as beginning at conception.  Abortion is, however, legal for some 60% of the world’s population.

The United States has performed over 45 million abortions since 1970 [1].

China performs approximately 23 million abortions annually [2].  Although pre-natal sex determination is now illegal there, it is thought that sex-selective abortions (heavily weighted against females) are a key factor in China’s widely disproportionate number of men.

Right to Survival

Then He took the child by the hand, and said to her, ‘Talitha, cumi,’ which is translated, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise.’  Immediately the girl arose and walked, for she was twelve years of age” (Mark 5: 41-42).

Over one third of child deaths worldwide are related to malnutrition [3].  Another 2  million children or more die annually of readily preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia.

Protection against Violence

Thus says the LORD:  ‘Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor.  Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place’ “ (Jer. 22: 3).

During the 10 year period from 1986 – 1996, it is estimated that 2 million children were killed; 4-5 million disabled; and 12 million left homeless by war and conflict [4].  As recently as April of this year, Pres. Bashar al-Assad of Syria again killed dozens of his own men, women, and children in a chemical attack [5].

As many as 300,000 youngsters worldwide have been compelled by government or rebel forces to become child soldiers [6].

In the United States, 2710 children were killed by guns between 2014 – 2017 [7].  This ranged from gang violence to school shootings [8A].  Nearly 6000 children are treated for non-fatal gunshot wounds in this country, annually [8B].

Continue reading

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Firsts

CSM Michelle Jones, first female command sergeant major of US Army Reserve (PD as work product of federal govt.)

An exceptional woman who once worked for me as a paralegal, had been in the Army before that.  There is an Army saying that goes:  It rains in the Army, but not on the Army.  That means soldiers power through, whatever the obstacle.  They move so fast, the raindrops don’t even touch them.

That fit my friend to a tee.  Any organization would have been lucky to have her.

My friend shared with me that she had been the only black woman (often the first and only woman) in all the classes or programs she ever attended.  She refused to declare her race on any form determining eligibility for affirmative action.  Yet the assumption was always made that she could not have qualified on merit alone.

I worked for years in inner city Philadelphia, and still love the children I came to know there.  Most of those children are black.  All are still living in poverty.  But children are not born with the knowledge they are supposed to be inferior.  They have to be taught that. Continue reading

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Filed under Poverty, racism

Mangers

Nativity scene, Germany (early 20th Century), Author Andreas Praefcke (CC by SA 3.0 Unported)

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.  So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.  And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2: 4-7).

Every day 2715 children are born into poverty in America alone [1].  And every day 22,000 children across the globe die from poverty-related illnesses and deprivation [2].

We are surrounded by mangers.  Surrounded, yet 2000 years after that first Christmas we still decline to see.  Why spoil this festive season? Isn’t there another sale, another party somewhere?  Pile those gifts high!  We need no encouragement to put Saturn back in Saturnalia.  We can manage that all on our own.

If pressed on the point, many of us would echo Scrooge’s sentiment:  “Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?”  Who brought all these children into the world anyhow?  Why should we be saddled with their upkeep?  Who gave them the right to impose on our comfortable lives?

“…[W]ho made lame beggars walk, and blind men see[?]” to use Tiny Tim’s words.  As Christians we ought to know the answer to that.  We ought to live the answer to that everyday.  If we did, no billboards would be necessary urging that we put Christ back in Christmas.  He would already be there.
___
[1]  Children’s Defense Fund, Research Library, “Each Day in America,” http://www.childrensdefense.org/child-research-data-publications/each-day-in-america.html.
[2]  Global Issues, “Poverty Facts and Stats,” http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.

Originally posted 12/22/13

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Christianity, Community, Justice, Poverty, Religion