This is one of my favorite thought provoking artworks by Erik Ravelo and Daniel Ferreira’s called Los Intocables (The Untouchables) which illustrates the exploitation of children and the abuse of their rights. From left to right, a priest represents the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, a pedophile tourist represents child sex tourism, a soldier represents children damaged by war, a doctor represents organ trafficking, a hooded adult carrying a weapon represents school shooting and violence, and Ronald Mc Donald represents childhood obesity and excess consumerism. Children are crucified to their abusers who have their backs turned in a neglectful and disregarding manner.
I am using controversial art works to portray children as the losers of the globalised world. These pictures shine the light on a number of sensitive and degrading child rights violations, not just reserved for the developing world but applicable to the developed world as well. To write about each and explain how it is linked to globalisation would result in a fairly long post, so I will briefly focus on two or three.
Stating the obvious, child sex tourism violates children’s most basic and fundamental rights and affects millions of children in the world. Places like Thailand, Cambodia and India have become sex havens for pedophile tourists originating mainly from Western Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The sexual exploitation of children has become a global phenomenon and is made easier through globalisation. Globalisation has also contributed greatly in creating organised pedophile and human traffik networks whether for sexual purposes or other organized crime.
There have been cases of theft of children’s organs in Spain, Mexico, Palestine, Haiti and more recently, Syria. The vulnerable categories of persons include migrants, homeless, and children. Many poor, orphaned or abandoned children are kidnapped and sold to an organ theft mafia. Similarly to the other organised crimes mentioned above, globalisation made the whole process of organ theft relatively easier. Another similarity is in the way advantage taken of desperate situations of vulnerable children and their families by offering money in return. Even though there are child protection policies and international laws in place, most of these activities happen through different stages with different people involved, making the process a complicated one.
It is safe to say with childhood obesity doubling in the past 30 that it has also become a worldwide problem that is connected to globalisation. A new study based in the UAE reveals that one in three children is either overweight or obese and at risk of early health risks such as diabetes and hypertension. About 40 million children under the age of 5 are overweight around the world. Similar to the US, about 30 per cent of children are overweight in the UK. Children make good consumers and are heavily targeted by MNCs through commercials. Even though parents might be well aware of the quality of the food their children are consuming, the children’s food market is huge and negatively influences children’s diets. No one wants to take responsibility, when fingers are pointed at the food industry and MNCs; they bring up the argument of consumer choice.
Children are sacred and full of potential, but they are also vulnerable, defenseless and depend on adults for protection. In this globalised world, some adults tend to betray that trust by turning children into profit making commodities or turning them into consumers from which they can profit, even at the expense of their well being. This heavy artwork carries a powerful tagline we can all agree on ‘the right to childhood should be untouchable.’
Balqis Hindash (M00385581 MDX Dubai Campus)