What do you do when you read or hear about something that really affects you? How do you filter that information? Which button do you press?
I’m not a big news watcher or reader. Maybe if I was then I’d become immune to the many horrors surrounding us. I’m also hopeless at current affairs, in a game of Triv I’m always the one sticking to Entertainment and Science & Nature.
This week two pieces of news got through the firewall. The first was via Twitter and linked to a CNN website carrying news of a 12-year-old Yemeni child bride who died from internal bleeding three days after she was married to an older man. There is no legal minimum age limit for marriage in this country, just a guideline and an expectation for families to make the ‘right’ decision. Yemen has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in the Middle East. The assumption is that this is due to children being pushed into marriage and enforced sexual relationships, and their immature bodies are too young to carry a pregnancy .
In 2008 there was a well documented case of a girl of 10 who walked into a court house and demanded a divorce following the abuse and rape meted out by her new husband. She got her divorce, and worldwide media exposure and today lives back in poverty with her family….little has changed.
The second thing that rocked me was finding out that the RAF camp that I grew up on has been turned into a Category C prison, exclusively for sex offenders, and since opening in November 2009 is already at capacity. In fact they have applied for permission to extend the current facility to house a greater number of offenders. The RAF house that I lived in when we first moved back to the UK from Germany overlooks the prison site. The same house is being renovated for sale as the entire base is now closed and the housing privately owned.
I am not attempting to make any correlation between these two news events. Is a culture that formalises child abuse any worse than one which, on the face of it, outlaws it? I don’t have any facts at my fingertips about the growth in sex crime, or child abuse but I do know that a child of 10 or 12 is too young mentally and physically to engage in a sexual relationship, let alone a marital relationship where she is ‘expected’ to submit to the will of a partner. I consider myself lucky to live in a society where it is at least illegal for these practices to take place and then stare, sickened, at statistics like this that state that 21,000 sex offences are committed against children in England and Wales every year – AND THAT’S JUST THE ONES THEY KNOW ABOUT.
So, what can we do?
Which button do you press?