Why are our children orphans?
The dark side of machismo continues to thrive in Bolivia. According to a recent report, the state has registered 997 femicides since 2013. While this problem is not unique in Latin America, these numbers are particularly staggering in a country of 12 million. It has created approximately 350 orphans under the age of 12. Since the father is often the perpetrator of the violence, the child effectively loses both parents (one to death and the other to prison) and sustains deep psychological wounds from witnessing either the murder itself or the patterns of violence and abuse which led to the death of their mother.
Families of Victims in Search of Justice, Bolivia, is one organization combating the problem of femicide. In addition to publicizing stories and raising awareness of specific acts of injustice, the group advocates for more resources to pay for the psychological care these children need to help heal from the trauma.
Why do the children you support need institutional care? What community partners do you have to help to advocate for the needs of the children and help tackle the social issues at its source?
The world watches more closely
Orphanage Trafficking in International Law is a recent book published by international child rights lawyer, Kathryn E. van Doore. When the co-founder of two orphanages in Nepal and Uganda found that some of the children in her orphanages had been recruiting children from intact families in order to help the institution raise international funds (so called “paper orphans”), she began researching unethical practices in orphan care and seeking to right the wrongs in which she unwittingly participated.
In the book, van Doore makes a legal case that ‘paper orphaning’ should be considered a form of child trafficking under international law. Van Doore also explores both the overt and subtle conditions which lead to the exploitation of children in profit-driven environments, how orphanage tourism drives demand for orphan trafficking, and what can be done to protect more children from exploitation.
While the book may not be accessible to everyone, online discussion surrounding orphan trafficking is readily available and critical perspectives on orphanage tourism are increasingly common. For those who work in institutional care, it is important to be aware of the issues which could affect your home: whether a corrupting influence from the inside or shifting public opinions from without.
More countries providing assistance
The government of Peru recently passed a law which grants a monthly disbursement of 200 S/ (soles) to children under the age of 18 who have lost one or both parents. The economic assistance is designed to offset costs in food, education, physical and emotional health, and other interventions for the development of the child.
To put the new government aid in perspective, consider the average prices for some common goods in Peru:
• Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 10 S/
• Pound of beef: 11 S/
• Gallon of milk: 16 S/
• Pair of jeans: 160 S/
• Back-to-school supplies: 299 S/
Peru joins a list of countries whose governments offer some sort of direct economic assistance to orphaned youth. We covered the development of such a program in India, as that country experienced a rapid rise in orphans due to COVID-19.
Identifying with the hero
In April, the Foundling Museum in London will launch an exhibition: Superheroes, Orphans & Origins: 125 Years in Comics. It is branded as the “first major exhibition to explore the representation of foundlings, orphans, adoptees, and foster children in comics, graphic novels and sequential art from around the globe.”
The exhibition will delve into the histories of several popular—and some more obscure—comic characters who share these startlingly complex identities built from the experiences of abandonment, loss, and being an outsider. What is it about these grim origin stories that make the characters so compelling and pervasive?
How could you use superheroes with challenging origins to explore these themes with your children?
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