An estimated 4 billion people worldwide are not protected by their justice systems. Let that number sink in for a minute. 4 billion people. That is more than half the world’s population. Half of the men, women, and children on earth will find no support from the very systems that are meant to protect them. Instead, these people live in fear of every day violence such as assault, rape, slavery, theft, and abuse, and these people are almost exclusively the poorest citizens of our world. The statistics surrounding the violence these people endure on a daily basis is shocking, and when presented with the facts, I had one question: How did it get this bad?
The epidemic of systematic violence against the world’s poorest people is a complex and horrifying issue, and there are many people who are trying to address, understand, and find solutions to this problem. However, in a new book published this week, The Locust Effect, authors Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros argue that the simple answer is that there simply is no one to stand between these people and the violence. The justice systems have failed them, and when the only thing that can protect you and your family is money, it is the world’s poor who suffer the most.
As a resident of one of the world’s most developed countries, it is hard to comprehend the challenges these people face on a daily basis. Many of the crimes perpetrated against the world’s poor are actually illegal in their countries, but even though a crime is on the books, there is no guarantee of enforcement. Many of the justice systems in the world’s developing countries are systematically corrupt and overwhelmingly favour the wealthy, and in the face of such staggering odds it’s hard to know what to do to help. Thankfully, there are solutions, and they have been proven to work, such as the case of Project Lantern. Using funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Justice Mission (IJM) set up an office in Cebu in the Philippines to combat child trafficking by working with local law officials to better prosecute traffickers. Amazingly, the number of children available for prostitution in the area dropped an astonishing 79% over four years thanks to the efforts of this group, and IJM is now looking to expand this program worldwide. When the justice systems in these countries are strengthened, the poor are better projected, and we can all help by supporting and donating to institutions that work to do just that. All author royalties from The Locust Effect will go towards IJM, and for every book purchased this week, a generous donor has agreed to donate an additional $20 towards IJM to help fund their work. You can purchase your copy here, and you can sign a petition to the United Nations to include ending violence against children in their 2015 Millennium Development Goals here.
4 billion people live in fear of violence every day. 30 million people worldwide live in slavery. Women between the age of 15 and 44 have higher odds of experiencing physical harm or death due to gender-based violence than cancer, motor accidents, war, and malaria combined. These horrific threats to personal safety are in addition to the alarming statistics surrounding hunger, access to clean water, and health, and the fact that nearly two and a half billion people worldwide live off of less than $2.00/day, categorized by the United Nations as extreme poverty. It is a grim picture, and one that is far removed from most of our privileged realities here in the United States. The simple fact that 4 billion people are unable to fully contribute to the world because the reality of everyday violence is keeping them in poverty is unacceptable. If we can remove this barrier and protect these people from violence, imagine what the contributions of 4 billion people could do to change the world economically, socially, environmentally, and emotionally? That’s a world where everyone wins, and one that I want to see in my lifetime. Who’s with me?