Royalty, Poverty and an Emergency

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A royal birth.

The announcement on display in a gilded frame in front of Buckingham Palace. Kate appearing with the new baby outside the hospital just a few hours after the birth looking immaculate. The Tower of London and Niagara Falls lit up in pink. 41 and 62 gun salutes. It is like a fairytale. Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, born a princess, gets a welcome to the world like no other baby born on that day, or I suspect on any other.

I don’t mind the royal family, quite like them, so I’ve followed events along with millions of others I suspect. It’s a bit of happiness among a lot of bad news. The birth of a baby is always cause for celebration.

This time around, however, I am struck by the extreme contrast between Princess Charlotte’s experience and the babies found in those surrounding terrible news stories. The news of her birth is alongside updates from Nepal, and I wonder the difference in experience for a baby girl born on the same weekend in that region. Or maybe one born to a migrant on their way to travel to Europe on a boat across the Mediterranean, or in an area where IS is operating, or in Burundi. If I was a journalist that is the story I’d find (I’m sure someone has). The celebrations would be vastly different and I suspect, tinged with danger and desperation.

It happens every day, every hour, every minute; children born in privilege, children born in poverty. Sometimes we can feel injustice on our part that the royal family enjoys such privilege and we don’t, but in the West we are better off than 99% of the world’s population. Our children are born in relative safety and security. There are those who live in poverty among us and I have no desire to minimize their struggles, but even their position is better than that of most of the world. We have running water, flush toilets, electricity, refrigerators, telephones and so on. We have a legal system that protects us, a health and welfare system, education and many other advantages that we take for granted. A lot of those living in extreme poverty around the world, also have no protection under the law.

The poorest are so vulnerable because their justice systems – police, courts and laws – don’t protect them from violent people. According to the United Nations, justice systems in the developing world are so broken that the majority of poor people live life “far from the law’s protection.” (https://www.ijm.ca/the-problem)

In these weeks after the earthquake in Nepal children are at an increased risk of trafficking. It happens already, but as in Haiti in 2010, the chaos an earthquake causes makes it easier for traffickers to recruit. From Nepal people are trafficked across the border to India, where it is estimated that there are the most slaves in the world. This article here, from The Guardian outlines some of the problem. It’s horrifying that people take advantage of the vulnerable, let alone when their world has crumbled around them.

Princess Charlotte along with every other baby girl is born into a world that may be more dangerous than ever for women and young girls, particularly those in poverty. I found some statistics on the International Justice Mission website. It’s estimated that one in five women will be raped in her lifetime.¹ In many developing countries doing daily activities, like collecting water, walking to school or using public transport can put girls at risk of sexual exploitation.² It’s a vicious cycle of poverty and violence. We know these stories, we hear them all the time, but let’s not get numb to them.

We love our children. Each is a gift. Each one our own little prince or princess. It’s the same for families around the world. Parents have hopes and dreams for their babies as we have, but are denied the very basics of life, maybe even their freedom.

Let’s not forget and do what we can to stop the injustice.

¹ United Nations. “Unite to End Violence Against Women: Fact Sheet.” (2008)

²United Nations Millennium Project “Taking Action: achieving gender equality and empowering women” P. 112

Helpful websites, some that relate to Nepal and some on poverty and slavery: International Justice Mission, World Vision; UNICEF, Compassion, Disasters Emergency Committee (UK), A21 campaign

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