Get yourself a copy or steal mine when I’m finished. In it, the authors Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros give a simple and stark message: the enduring threat and persistent reality of everyday violence against the poor undermines and even reverses much of the efforts to lift people out of extreme poverty.
They describe that far below the headlines, a plague of hidden, everyday violence — like rape, trafficking, and police brutality — is devastating the developing world and undermining our efforts to bring people out of poverty. These people are not and will not be protected by the law system in place in their countries. You can teach people how to farm, create access to clean water, and make affordable housing, but none of that will matter if the people you are trying to help are not safe.
Today, the U.N. estimates that about 4 billion people live outside the protection of law. And there are 2 million children in the commercial sex trade, according to UNICEF.
Think about those numbers of a second. Now think about the fact that those aren’t just numbers but actual people, like you and me.
I don’t know about you but I feel safe knowing that if some violence came into my life that I could realistically seek protection from the law. Imagine not having that. Imagine being alone, subjected to violence every day, without any way out.
People like Laura, a 10-year-old girl in Korogocho who was on her way to school when she was sexually assaulted. Or Gopinath from Tamil Nadu who borrowed $10 for food, and was forced to work in a rock quarry for fifteen years to pay off the debt. Or Susan, a Ugandan woman who was already struggling to care for her three grandchildren, and had her home destroyed and her land occupied by thugs.
I don’t have any great answers for this. I don’t have answers for how to stop this violence. I don’t have the answers for how in the Ignite Network we can make a difference.
All I have is a frustration. I believe it may be a holy frustration, if that makes sense.
Woe to those who make unjust laws,
to those who issue oppressive decrees,
to deprive the poor of their rights
and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,
making widows their prey
and robbing the fatherless.
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
– Isaiah 10
If you can find a free 22 minutes have a look and listen to his ted talk below.