Stop Spitting on Our Children

By Jeffrey Imm • on December 31, 2011

A few weeks ago at the National Press Club, I spoke of the world crisis in respecting children’s dignity and human rights, and the need to challenge those who commit and those who tolerate abuse, hatred, rape, and violence against our children.  I love my brothers and sisters in humanity of all identity groups, but we must stand united as a human race to challenge those who would attack our children.

I stated in my December 8 comments, they are “our children” because humanity’s children are humanity’s shared future. They are not just the responsibility of their parents, they are also our shared responsibility as a human society — not only for our human rights, but also for our very future existence. They are part of our shared responsibility not only for equality and liberty, but also for the future of humanity itself.

Even animals in the wild have the instinctual need to defend their children. Our human society must do better. We must work to end the very contempt so many have for our chidren, their innocence, their future, and their very lives.

So many would like to explain away not just the abuses of our children, but the societal willingness to accept this. We are too busy, the people committing such abuses are just crazy, they are the responsibility of the police and the children’s parents.

CONTEMPT.

You don’t spit on a child and call them filthy names by accident. There is no explaining this away. It is nothing less than open, unmitigated, CONTEMPT.

Yet this is precisely what has been reported in Israel over the past week. In the Jerusalem suburb of Beit Shemesh, an 8-year old Orthodox Jewish girl walking to Jewish religious school, wearing a long dress and long sleeve blouse was set upon by “ultra-Orthodox” extremists who spit on her.

Frightened Israeli Child Na'ama Margolis Fears Being Spit Upon and Threatened by Dozens of Men (Photo Clip: YouTube / Channel 2)

For months, this child, Na’ama Margolis, and her classmates have endured being spat upon and threatened with filthy insults by dozens of cowardly men, who see nothing wrong with attacking children.   Such men apparently claim that these girls’ conservative dress is not conservative enough for them. This was reported and many in Israel have condemned such outrages against these children. Others have been challenging efforts at public gender segregation, excluding girls and women from public sphere in public events, in stores, on buses, and even on the sidewalk.  Men supporting such abuse of women have clashed with the police.  The attacks on such children and attempts at public gender segregation in the streets was broadcast by Israeli Channel 2 and is provided with English subtitles on YouTube at:

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Some Israelis have also been challenging a growing repression against Israel women, including an Israel woman soldier called filthy names by a man for sitting in the front of a bus.  I stand with the women and men protesting in Israel to reject such contempt against girls and women, and I am proud to support your campaign for freedom and respect.  I reject the efforts of those who seek to use violence and contempt to intimidate girls and women in Israel (or anywhere).  Outside of the U.S. Secretary of State, the situation in Israel has been received with a significant silence here in the United States, especially by activists. I am especially disappointed to see feminists who have been very active in challenging the disgraceful so-called “honor killings” around the world, apparently must be on vacation and too busy to be concerned about these issues involving Israeli women. I have also seen some writers who seem to want to explain the abuses against Israeli women away as political targeting or as some type of cultural misunderstanding.

Local Man in Beit Shemesh Justifies Spitting On Little Girls (Photo Clip: YouTube / Channel 2)

Local Man in Beit Shemesh Justifies Spitting On Little Girls (Photo Clip: YouTube / Channel 2)

To those who believe it is a cultural misunderstanding to spit on little girls, let me tell you there are plenty of fathers who would have their own cultural response with a closed four fingers and a thumb if you spit on their daughter.

It is instinctual, it is normal, it is part of basic human survival coding to want to protect and defend our children. We shouldn’t need to explain it. We shouldn’t need to encourage it. It should be part of our human identity.

Nor is it political targeting to challenge abuses against children, among people in any nation or any identity group.  I have stood in defense of Israelis many times to seek the respect, security, and human rights that all human beings deserve.  But wrong is wrong – as other protesting Israelis point out, and we must have no acceptance of contempt against our children.

This incident summarizes the entire issue of open contempt against children, their rights, and their dignity: Spitting on Our Children.  Such contempt does not get any clearer than that.

Certainly we cannot address child abuse in another nation, without addressing the disgrace and child abuse in the United States of America, who has yet to ratify the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), accepted by the General Assembly in 1989. While the United States signed this important convention as part of the United Nations, the United States is one of the few nations that has failed to ratify this convention.  23 years later, administration after after administration, Republican and Democratic, have come and gone, and still this basic convention on the rights of children has not yet been ratified by the United States.  In 2008,  Barack Obama promised to “review” this, but as we approach 2012, nearly four years later, the current  United States administration has also failed to ratify this convention on child’s rights.

The only other nation that has not ratified the CRC is Somalia, where a 13-year old little girl (Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow) was publicly stoned to death in a pit as “adulteress” for the “crime” of being raped, watched by over 1,000 people who failed to act, as Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow’s extremist murderers justified killing her based on their interpretation of Islamic Sharia Law. The U.S. Senate passed a resolution condemning that killing, but where are they on ratifying the CRC?

We also cannot address the importance of the CRC, without challenging those who have ratified it with “exceptions,” that some children only have rights to life and human dignity based on limited religious interpretations.  The Universal Declaration of Human Rights ensure human rights for all – without exception – but the United States of America’s government needs to ratify the CRC themselves so that when it offers advice to other world powers, it has done the least that it could do.

In many parts of the children and young girls are even sold as slaves, but while we condemn such practices, the United States of America must set an example with our commitment to international children’s rights. We don’t set examples for our children, by just doing the least that we can do, but for the American voting public, that is the least you should demand from your government.

Image from State Dept Human Trafficking Report, section "Gender Imbalance in Human Trafficking"

We lead as human beings, as parents, as social leaders, as religious leaders, as identity group leaders, and political leaders – must lead by example.   “Do what I say, not what I do” accomplishes nothing in social change and human rights.  So the series of disgraces against children around the world require us to speak out consistently everywhere in the world, with every group in the world, and in every circumstance.   We must show human rights, dignity, and compassion to some children, but we must do so for our all of our future children.

Our places of learning should be obvious places where children are safe.  But we have learned in America how untrue that is today in our nation.  Today, yet another alleged rape victim has reported the use of the Pennsylvania State University campus football facilities , as part of an apparently organized effort alleged to have been committed by former football coach Sandusky.  It is sickening for Americans and people with respect for children’s rights around the world to hear the growing allegations, and this latest victim brings the number to 11 reported victims.  All of us our responsible for our children, including those in positions of authority, not simply when it is convenient, but all of the time.  Even if it is inconvenient to someone’s weekend (as former football coach Joe Paterno testified), we must alert the authorities to known or suspected abuse of children, and do the most we can to protect our children, not the least we can.  As a Penn State alumnus, I understand when it comes to children’s safety – no one, no organization, no team, and no activity – is more important than our children.

Former Penn State University Coach Joe Paterno Testified that He Did Not Want to Disrupt the Weekend of University Official in Reporting Sandusky's Activities with Naked Boys (Photo: Ralph Wilson-AP Photo)

We see some who would rationalize and look the other way when children are killed as part of violence among adults.  It is always and will always be unacceptable and wrong.  There are no exceptions.  We must stop killing our children, because we can not find ways to live with each other and to deal with our conflicts.  Those who seek to fight, fight as adults, and leave our children out of these wars.  I know the arguments, how people need to fight for security and defense.  But our children don’t have to be a part of that.  To those who say that is impossible, I say you need to find a way.  If we are not preserving our children’s lives, what type of security, what type of defense, and what type of “victory,” do you think you are working towards?

In terms of the United States government, the Israeli government, and every government in the world who is at war or in conflict, there are no “acceptable” child casualties in war.  It does not matter how we define these casualties, as “collateral damage,” or how sorry we are.  This also includes the disgusting and disgraceful allegations that some Israeli soldiers have also used human shields. This also applies to any solider, American, or from any nation, who believes it is acceptable to allow the deaths of our children.  Our apologies do not bring the lives of our children back anywhere in the world.  No war justifies the death of children anywhere in the world, any place, any time.

A Child Injured in U.S. Drone Attack in Pakistan (Photo: AP/The Hindu)

To those terrorist organizations, including the Taliban, Hamas, and Hezbollah, there are also no “acceptable” child human shields or child casualties.  On December 30, the Voice of America reported on Afghanistan terrorists recruiting child suicide bombers, and posted a video of an interview with such a child. Digital Journal also provided a report on Taliban child suicide bombers on December 31, along with a YouTube video link.

Pakistani Child Ali Ahmad - Trained to be Suicide Bomber (Photo Clip: Voice of America)

This also includes disgraceful allegations of Palestinian militants using child human shields, or any other group with militants fighting anywhere in the world.  Such groups claim they are working for ideological and nationalist causes.  No cause justifies murdering children anywhere in the world, any place, any time.

In Pakistan and around the world, we have seen terrorist organizations seek to brainwash children with hatred and to train children to become terrorists.   As the Pakistan Daily Times has reported, some Pakistani groups have used madrassas  to teach children how to wear suicide bomber vests.  Throughout Africa, and in other parts of the world, there are others who seek to recruit children for their wars.  In Somalia this week, children are being recruited as “child soldiers” to wage war on the government by the Al-Shabaab group.  No cause justifies this promotion of hatred in children’s minds, this warping of their innocents hearts to believe that people of all one kind, one group, or one religion deserve hatred, violence, and death.  No group has the right abuse our children and try to turn them into killers.

Leave Our Children be Children

In every case and circumstance, those who would kill our children and make them into killers, anywhere and everywhere in the world, they too are spitting on our children.

There are those in the United States that claim their religious views justify child abuse, including child sexual abuse, as we have reported on the disgraceful case of Raymond Jeffs, Raymond Jessop,and his child abuse on young pre-teen and teenage girls by those who claimed that their sexual abuses was protected polygamy by their Mormon / Christian extremist views.

Texas: Raid on Polygamist Group that Claimed Justification of Sexual Abuse (Photo Clip: NBC video)

We have also seen those who claim they have the “right” to murder young girls in America in so-called “honor killings,” rationalized by their extremist interpretations of Islamic religion and culture.  Just slightly over a year ago, the trial of Faleh Almaleki began for the “honor killing” murder of his daughter  Noor Almaleki.  The Arizona Republic reported that “[f]amily members told police that the father was upset that his daughter failed to live by traditional Muslim values.” We need others to condemn those who rationalize murder and hate.  (Almaleki’s families comments to the Arizona Republic is an extremist view that will no doubt disturb many traditional Muslims practicing love and respect to children and one another.)   In April 2011, Faleh Almaleki was sentenced to only 34 years in prison for what was clearly a premeditated murder of his daughter.

Noor Almaleki - American Girl Murdered for an "Honor Killing"

Noor was hardly the only such young girl murdered for such rationale; other American girls murdered in such so-called “honor killings” have included Amina and Sarah Said in DallasSandeela Kanwal in Georgia,  Methal Dayem in Cleveland, and Tina Isa in Indianapolis.

Other American Girls Murdered in "Honor Killings": Amina and Sarah Said (Top Left), Methal Dayem (Top Right), and Tina Isa (Bottom)

Other American Girls Murdered in "Honor Killings": Amina and Sarah Said (Top Left), Methal Dayem (Top Right), and Tina Isa (Bottom)

All those who would use religious RATIONALIZATION to sexually abuse, beat, attack, and kill our children also have contempt for children’s rights.  Their contempt and violence against our children speaks for itself, and they cannot hide behind their claims that contempt, abuse, and violence against children is justified by their extremist religious views or culture.   They too are spitting on our children.

Those who seek to pray on our children’s minds and souls to corrupt towards violence and hatred know no boundaries.  In our reporting at Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.), we have reported on those who seek to influence children via the Internet and from extremist group meetings to promote hatred of people different from themselves.  We have seen with our own eyes the images of small children influenced by the Christian extremist Hutaree group and other groups that promote hatred and promote violence in the United States.  When we challenge groups that promote such hatred and racial nationalism in America, as well as other groups that promote hate, we seek to protect our children – our shared responsibility.

Christian Extremist Terrorist Group Hutaree Give Rifle to Baby (Left); American Nazis Seek to Brainwash Young Girl (Right)

This problem is not limited to any one religious, ethnic, racial, national, or identity group.  There is a decided effort by those promoting hatred to fight their war for hate with, against, and through our children.   They too are spitting on our children.

But the contempt towards our children is hardly an isolated incident and, as I expressed in my December 8 remarks, this is a global phenomenon that we must challenge consistently and without exception.   In every case, these too are spitting on our children.

This month, we have seen the release of a young girl, Gulnaz, in Afghanistan who was imprisoned as a teenager for the crime of being a rape victim. She was released on the condition that she marry her rapist.   Today, December 31, the Daily Mail reports on another 15 year old girl, Sahar Gul, who was imprisoned in a toilet in Afghanistan by her family because she refused to be a prostitute.  She was tortured by being burned with cigarettes, was starved, and had her fingernails, hair, and parts of her flesh torn out with pliers.   The violence against children in Afghanistan has been pandemic with acid attacks against young girls and women, and girl’s schools attacked by terrorists with poisonous gas because they don’t want young girls to get an education.

Afghanistan: Girls recovering from poison gas attack on school (Photo: Reuters/Mohammad Ishaq)

In India, we have heard many reports of so-called “honor killings” against young girls, most recently with a girl who was hung to death on December 29.  We have heard of many such “Hindu culture” rationalized “honor killing” murders in India.   The Asian Age has reported that India has over 1,000 “honor killings” a year.  So-called “honor killings” in India have also included murders of Muslim girls, including one child who was burned alive for seeing a boy.

Indian Girl Protests "Honor Killings" (Photo: Ashish Seth)

We regularly hear reports of such so-called “honor killings” around the world from the activist web site http://www.stophonourkillings.com.   Pakistan Tribune has reported 675 “honor killings” in Pakistan in the first 9 months of this year, and Stop Honour Killings reports on nearly 3,000 “honor crimes” in the United Kingdom in 2010.  This month alone, the group has reported on honor killings, crimes, and trials in Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, India, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

In Pakistan and Egypt, religious minority girls and children have been the targets of abuse for years.  Such Christian children, Hindu Children, and other religious minorities are routine targets for attacks and rape.  In Pakistan, Christian children have been threatened, are beaten, and forced by extremists to convert to Islam, according to reports from CDN.  The abuse have forced some children to flee schools because of their persecution.  They have reason to be afraid, Christian girls have been repeatedly murdered and raped without justice.  One  Christian girl Shazia Masih was working as a domestic worker when she mysteriously died, and her family believes she was thrown down a flight of steps by her employer.  Another Christian child Tehmina Qasim was beaten by her employer and thrown out a window, left to die.  Another 12 year-old Christian girl, Shazia Bashir, was raped and murdered, allegedly by her employers.  Pakistan Christian children have been murdered in mob attacks on villages such as the attack on the predominantly Christian homes in Gojra by mobs who burned down churches, homes, and burned children and other to death.  In Pakistan, Christian girls are attacked and threatened on a regular basis, as Pakistan Christian Congress leader Nazir Bhatti reports, this is a part of a systematic oppression on Christians.

Pakistan: Funeral Coffin of 12 Year Old Murdered Christian Girl Shazia Bashir - (Photo: British Pakistan Christian Association)

Pakistan Hindu girls have also been abducted from their homes and forced by extremists to convert to Islam.  In one month, as many as 25 such Hindu girls were abducted.  Some, like Hindu child Nadini, are not found.

Pakistan: 12 year-old Hindu girl Nadini abducted and missing since December 2009 (Pakistan Daily Times)

In Egypt, what should be a celebration of freedom from the past of tyranny has been anything but a celebration of freedom for girls and women. Egyptian girls and women are being oppressed, raped, and beaten.  Our good friend in human rights, Egyptian human rights activist Mona Eltahawy, was sexually attacked and had her wrists broken last November 2011 during the Thanksgiving holiday timeframe; she was attacked by men in the military and by other male protesters.  Girls who dare to protest have been being given “virginity examinations” by the military(which were suspended by an Administrative court on December 30) and they are also abused by other male protesters.  Thousands of girls and women have protested this week, in response to Egyptian police brutality against girls and women, but these protests belie a greater contempt towards Egyptian girls that has been a problem for many years.  This certainly also includes the rape, abuse, and kidnapping of Christian Copt Egyptian girls and abuse of children.   Egyptian security groups have tortured Christian children, and reportedly at one point after a terrorist attack on a Christian church had arrested 100 Christian teenagers, and have also arrested a Christian father that sought to attempt to free his daughter.  15 year old Christian convert girl Dina El-Gowhary has also been terrorized, and has been attacked with acid by those who seek to kill her.

Egypt: 15 year old Dina El-Gowhary - Target of Acid Attacks

In Sudan and Darfur, children are killed, young girls are raped, children are starved, authorities refuse to let children learn about their culture, and children are abducted to be forced into military service. In Balochistan, we have seen over 168 children who have “disappeared” and teenage boys killed as part of a brutal “kill and dump” campaign by authorities. In Bahrain, I have read reports of 5 children killed and hundreds of children subjected to excessive force by a brutal government that seeks deny democracy and human rights.

Sudan's Starving Children - Oppressed by Totalitarian Government (Photo: AP)

In China, only two months ago, the world saw heartless people continue to walk by as a two year old girl Yue-Yue was run over by a vehicle and left to die in the street, when no one but a lone trash collector tried to save her.  At the U.S. Congress a short drive away, I have sat and listened to testimony from young Chinese women forced into having abortions and heard reports of how the government instructed doctors to kill young babies. The Falun Gong could tell the story of how the children of their supporters are also oppressed, tortured, killed, and others left to be orphans or without parent as the Chinese Communist Party takes their parents away for their beliefs.

Only a Passing Trash Collector Tried to Save Chinese Baby Yue-Yue

(To those who state, you failed to address the contempt towards our children shown by this group or that group, you are correct.  Given the near infinite variety of groups in the war against children, I guarantee I have missed some.  Please write me at usa@realcourage.org and I will address such topics in the future.)

I know that this sometimes reads like just statistics, which is why in my December 8 remarks, I raised the issue of murdered American child Jorelys Rivera, a 7 year old girl who was raped and murdered, and dumped in a trash bin in Georgia, the week we were remembering Human Rights Day around the world.  Our children are special, unique, and deserve the love, respect, and human rights.  They deserve to be remembered not merely as statistics, but as human beings with names.

Jorelys Rivera - 7-Year Old America Girl - Murdered and Raped - Left in Trash Bin

The grim story of global contempt against our children is not just something I have heard about, but something I faced personally in the United States.  I have spoke to young girls who have been the victims of sexual abuse predators in our nation, who have sought to steal their dignity because of the poverty and unemployment in America.   To those who expect law enforcement will act on these matters, I can tell you from personal experience that this is not always the case.

The face of children’s human rights is the face of every child, those who have suffered and those remain unscathed.  These children are humanity’s future.  We cannot and must not expect the authorities or “someone else” to take the leadership in protecting our children around the world from contempt, hatred, brainwashing, abuse, rape, violence, and murder.  Our conscience and our survival as a human race demands that we must not tolerate such abuse of our children – anywhere, any group, and any time.

We are the adults – when it comes to protecting our children – we are the authorities.  It is our responsibility.  It is our responsibility to stop those spitting on our children, literally and figuratively.

Our children deserve our universal human rights, including the right to life, dignity, and respect.

We extend respect to all identity groups, all religions, all races, all genders, and all nationalities as our brothers and sisters in humanity. While such individual identity groups are not to “blame” for extremists within them, they and we all have to responsibility to speak out on behalf of the need to protect and love our children – everywhere and anywhere.

Consistency on human rights is difficult, and perhaps painful and ugly at times. If we are consistent on human rights, we are going to offend someone. If we are consistent on human rights, our political allies, our national allies, our cultural allies, and our identity group allies are at some point going to be upset with us.

But the truth is that our future depends on consistency on human rights.

Our children depend on us to have the courage to be consistent on human rights, anywhere, everywhere, and all the time. We must set that example and provide that leadership for the next generation.

But first we must challenge the CONTEMPT against our children. It is unacceptable anywhere, everywhere, and all the time – with every child without exception. We must challenge the contempt against our children with our hearts, minds, and voices.

So now I will challenge you to take a public stand.

Sign our online petition “Stop Spitting on Our Children, which calls for consistent respect, dignity, and complete human rights for our children -of any gender and any identity group.

Our petition calls for all nations of the world, including the United States of America, to  ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Our petition also calls for the world nations to make their ratification of the CRC without exception or qualification. We shouldn’t need to “qualify” the basic rights of our children to life, respect, dignity, and the universal human rights we all share.

Our petition rejects those who claim that any human culture or ideology permits contempt, abuse, rape, violence, and hatred towards children, and even murder of children.

Our petition calls for the end of child slavery and condemns the nations and individuals that participate and tolerate such disgraces.

Our petition calls for the protection, dignity, and safety of children anywhere and everywhere – free from attack by weapons of war, free from abuse by soldiers of any kind, free from terrorism and crime, and free from abuse and violence from any person.

Finally, our petition encourages the world to reject the idea that our children are someone else’s responsibility, but they are our responsibility and our future – not just when it is convenient, but all the time.

You may think you can’t do anything about the contempt towards our children, but you can. You can start with your public voice on the issues that all human beings should share regarding our children and our future.

Then send the petition on to your friends – give someone else the chance to stand up and take a stand for our children.

Today, on the last day of 2011, we have a chance to begin to make a statement against the contempt towards our children. Let’s take it.

Stop the Spitting on Our Children — in every way and everywhere.

Choose Love, Not Hate – Love Wins.

Orange Ribbon for Universal Human Rights - Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.)