[imc-qc] News - Reflections from PREDA and Fr. Shay Cullen,
PREDA Information Office
predair at info.com.ph
Sun Dec 12 19:51:57 PST 2004
Children victims of globalisation
By: Father Shay Cullen
Weimar December 10 Human Rights Day 2004
Everyday I meet the victims of Globalisation, recently I was in one of the
many prisons from where we rescue children and found two children 9 and 10
years old. They were both locked inside a tiny cellwith adult criminals and
35 otheryoung boys fortwo months. There are an estimated 20,000
childrenjailed in Philippine prisons suffering pain and hardship. These are
just some of the child victims of globalisation. I will refer in particular
to the Philippines as that is my area of work but the process of
globalisation is similar world-wide and the example can apply to most
developing nations. The impact on children is similar and devastating in
Globalisation is an economic movement through which wealthy nations and
corporations are spreading throughout the world controlling the world
economy. They dominate more and more the agriculture, pharmaceutical,
telecommunications financial and manufacturing sectors as well as the
service. Nothing is left untouched by the power and influence.
At the same time they are working to penetrate and integrate the world
markets and dominate them. They create monopolies of manufacturing and
supply. This form of globalisation is presented as beneficial to poor
countries but on the contrary it causes more poverty than every before and
the children are the prime victims.
The strongest evidence of its negative impact on children is found on the
city streets of the developing world. UNICEF estimates that a 100 million
children world-wide live on the streets in abysmal conditions. In the
Philippines according to Government figures from 1991 to 1999 the number of
street children rose from 223,000 to 1.5 million. During these years, the
Philippines began to liberalise its economy, reduce import taxes suffered a
huge deficit so that social services began to fail and many local
manufacturing plants closed. Thousands were unemployed.
There is no social welfare for the poor in the Philippines. If one is poor
and sick he/she is likely to die, if unemployed and hungry they have to
beg. If homeless they must live on the streets or in slums.
Hundreds of thousands of street children live in boxes,push carts and
hovels unfit even for animals. They eat left over food from the garbage,
beg at street corners and are sold into prostitution and child labour on an
Child labour is epidemic in the Philippines with 1.2 million children
working. UNICEF and civil society estimate 60,000 to 100,000 children and
youth, some as young as 8 year old, are exploited in the sex industry which
has gone global. There are hundreds of thousands of sex tourists traveling
to poor countries for sexual gratification with children every year.
* 100 million children world-wide live on the streets in abysmal
* 60,000 to 100,000 children and youth are sexually exploited in the
* 20,000 children jailed in Philippine prisons suffering pain and hardship.
* World-wide, more than 1 million children are in prison.
* 1 in every 5 children in the developing world has to work that is 246
million child workers.
* 5.7 million Children work in especially horrific circumstances, one
million in Prostitution Some as young as 8 and 9
* There are around 500,000 child soldiers in Africa
* Between 8,000 and 10,000 children are killed or maimed by land mines
From 1991 to 1999 the Philippine economy came under the intense influence
of a world economy that was going global at breakneck speed. Multibillion
corporate mergers were creating global behemoths that now span the globe
and are wealthier than many nations. They are beyond the jurisdiction of
many judicial systems. They are a law unto themselves.
Globalisation hurts the poor because unfair trade agreements brokered by
the World Trade Organisation, Implemented with the help and pressure of the
World bank and the IMF frequently results in creating unfair competition
and driving down production costs and wages in poor countries when the
trans national corporations (TNCs) and their products are allowed to
dominate the markets. These global business elite invest where they can pay
the lowest wages and non regulated working conditions and environmental
regulations are not enforced.
They maximise their profits. TNCs as they are called are in the developing
world for their own interest and profit. They are not agents of
development. There are 416 of these corporations in the Philippines. The
biggest of such investors are Japanese (41%), American 13% they overshadow
all Filipino investment which is 17%.
TNCs demand low tariffs and taxes and governments embracing globalisation
accommodate them. But the realties, a huge budget deficit. The first
services to be cut are education and health. Children suffer first. The
massive interest payments on the foreign debt cripple the economy. Almost
one third of the national budget it paid out to the global financial
institutions as a matter of Philippine law.
Health and education for children are the first to go. Spending on
education dropped from 19.11 % of the national budget in 1999 to 16.06% by
2003. Spending on health was down from 2.55% of the budget to 1.6%, Social
Services were down from 26.52 % to 22.2% and so on. 40 % of rural families
are impoverished and the World Bank report says that rural poor increased
by 300,000 between 1997 and 2003. The 416 TNCs did nothing to stop the
growing poverty. That's because all their profits are not invested in the
country but are send back to the headquarters.
Unequal trade agreements. The globalisation of the Philippine economy is
made possibly by the signing of unequal trade agreements. These agreements
have opened the door for foreign investors and global corporations to
manufacture branded products,. They cut wages, fire employees, slash
benefits and sell their branded products below cost. The local manufactured
products are wiped out more unemployment follows As soon as they get a
monopoly of the market they increase their prices. In 2003 everyday 186
Filipino workers were lost their jobs because of Globalisation
Migration - 7 million Filipinos working abroad. As globalisation spreads
the middle class see no hope, no future for their children. They migrate to
the North where the greatest wealth, much of it made in the south is found.
Their children are again the victims. They are left behind to grow up with
grandparents and relatives. The result is broken homes and abandoned or
dysfunctional children. The migrants are sending back money, $14 Billion in
remittances. This is what is keeping the Philippine economy afloat not a
beneficial globalised economy.
Patenting plants These corporations have the backing of many governments to
help them in patenting the bio-diversity of developing nations. These
unique natural resources belonging to indigenous people are turned into
life saving medicines or valuable by-products from which the original
people gain nothing. Frequently they are sold back to the poor nations at
huge costs -a worst form of exploitation.
Anti-Viral drugs Before they were forced to change policy the global
Pharmaceutical industry refused to reduce the cost of anti-viral drugs for
Aids sufferers. They refused to allow them to be manufactured under license
at lower cost to save lives. Thousands of children and other victims died
as a result. Corporate greed knows no limits.
Globalisation and Human rights violations Iraq Sudan, Burma
Military force. When negotiation and manipulation cannot achieve their
goals then military force is resorted to. In Iraq the war is all about
power influence and oil. The close ties economic between the politicians
ordering the war and the global corporations benefiting from it is
outrageous. They helped to finance the invasion, occupation and so called
reconstruction. 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died thousands of them
children and youth.
In the Sudan global corporations are accused of paying huge sums of money
to the corrupt and genocidal regime to get control of their oil and
minerals. The corporate money funds the murdering militia that carries out
ethnic cleansing in Darfur, murdering children and families by the
thousands. These global economic interests can even influence the United
Nations to hold back from imposing sanctions and an oil embargo on Sudan.
Global dumping of subsided commodities. While developing nations are being
forced to reduce their trade protection tariffs under the rulings of the
World Trade organisation the developed nations do not do likewise. They
continue to pay their farmers huge subsidies to produce cotton, sugar beet,
corn and other crops that are dumped at low prices on the world market and
good quality cotton and products from the developing nations are blocked
from reaching the world market.
In 2000 the Institute for Agriculture and Trade policy (IATP) reported that
the US export price for a bushel of wheat was $3.50 but it cost $6.24 to
produce. In 2001 US exporters dumped corn at 33% below production cost;
Soya beans sole at 29% below cost, cotton at 57% and rice at 22%. Poor
farmers in the developing world can't compete the economic subsidies given
to American farmers by the supra-power of the US economy.
Protest and Resistance. Only when the developing nations came together in
Cancun last year to protest and resist this unjust situation did the WTO
rule to outlaw such unjust subsidies and trade practices yet they will not
be enforced for many years.
We need to have global protest, justice and equality. This mans a sharing
of wealth and international enforcement of just laws and more strict
prosecution of tyrant's genocidal war criminals and international
traffickers of children.
These are lessons for our time. We cannot allow a day to pass where human
rights are violated and not speak out and more so when the victims are
children. So many are vulnerable and defenseless before the might and
oppression of their own government and the forces of globalisation. We have
to work to protect their rights to a life of social justice and stability.
This we can do by helping children participate in our global awareness
campaigns for human rights.
We can never do enough to empower and enable the children and youth to have
a voice and the right to appeal to the convention on the rights of the
child for protection when their rights are violated. We must all work to
establish a protocol that their will be an Individual complaints procedure
for abused and violated children. This is already the practice in other
conventions. Why not for children?
We have to continue working for a better world of justice and peace, one
based not on military might, revenge taking, maximizing profit,
selfishness, exploitation and global corporate greed. We need to build a
world safe for children where they have a life of equality, dignity and
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PREDA Information Office
PREDA Foundation, Inc.
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