The Fides news agency has published a study entitled, “Herod: the slaughter of the innocents continues,” denouncing the nightmare endured by 860 million children in the world.
Carried out with information from international groups and data from Catholic missionaries, the study also reveals that in addition to suffering exploitation and prostitution, children face poverty, AIDS, war or abandonment. “The future is an unknown, the present a nightmare that must awaken the consciences of adults,” the report indicates.
The report also indicates that “211 million children under age 14 are forced to work, of which 120 million do so full time.” Millions “work in risky conditions, with dangerous machinery, in mining, with no light and little oxygen, or handling toxic materials.”
From the mines of the Ivory Coast, South Africa or Colombia to the sugar cane plantations in Brazil, child exploitation is rampant, although it is the worst in Asia. “At the heart of many forms of exploitation is the fact that in the poorest developing countries, more than 50 million children are not even registered when they are born,” the report states.
The study also denounces the tragedy of “child soldiers.” Throughout the world more than 300,000 minors are “transformed into merciless killers.” Recruited when they are between the ages of 10 and 14, “the smallest children are considered by exploiters to be the best candidates for small-arms operations, as they can hide, flee and spy easily.” Such children are placed on the front lines in order to carry out “suicidal actions, under the influence of drugs in order to overcome fear and kill in cold blood.”
Another problem denounced by the Fides study is that of street kids, who live off of robbery and the recycling of trash in large cities. Half of the 120 million street kids live in South America, with 30 million in Asia, although the problem is growing “in the large cities of Eastern Europe.”
In addition, hunger in the world leads to the deaths of more than 11 million children under the age of 5 each year. In 2005 half a million children under 14 died of AIDS.
The report also mentions human trafficking, which results in more than 1.2 million children under 18 treated as “merchandise.” It also addresses the issue of the disappearance of orphans, “sold by their very own families in certain regions of Central America to mafias dedicated to the illegal trafficking of human organs.” 4 million girls are bought and sold for marriages, prostitution and slavery. “The problem of pre-arranged marriages, to which 18 million girls under the age of 18 are subjected to each year, has been denounced by many humanitarian organizations also because of the risk of death for the young mothers,” the report adds.
“Girls represent two thirds of uneducated minors who go on to become illiterate adults. Currently they number 600 million!” Some 2 million girls are subjected to genital mutilation, the report indicated.