in the homophobic political and media posturing over the Mark Foley
incident is the reality that there is a global pandemic of sexual and
non-sexual child abuse. The scandalous thing about the Mark Foley
incident isn't that he is gay. It isn't about pedophilia either,
because the roots of that word come from a Greek word meaning to love
children, but there is nothing loving about sexually abusing children.
What is truly scandalous is that we live in a society where not only
is such behavior condoned in the hallowed halls of Congress, but in
every corner of both this country and the entire world.
In 2002, 150 million girls and 73
million boys were sexually assaulted. Two million children were forced
into working in prostitution and pornography and over one million
children were actually bought and sold, according to the U.N.
The global atrocity of child abuse however, goes far beyond sexual
53,000 children were murdered in 2002, 2893 of those murders were here
in the U.S. 220 million children are economically exploited every
year, half of them working in dangerous situations such as mines and
five million children live in slavery. In Bangladesh, contractors
providing clothing for Hanes, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney employ children
less than 11 years of age, making them work shifts as long as 20 hours
according to the National Labor Committee. The children are paid 6.5
cents an hour.
300,000 children around the world are pressed into military service
every year. While there seems to be plenty of money for military
recruiting in the U.S. (the Pentagon spends $4 billion dollars a year
on it), the Bush Administration provided $9.4 billion dollars less in
funding than promised for the educational programs mandated by the
same No Child Left Behind Act that allows recruiters access to
More than one million children are imprisoned worldwide, 100,000 of
them in the U.S. The U.S. is one of only four countries that sentences
children to life without parole, and along with Somalia is one of only
two nations in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the
Rights of the Child.
16,000 children die of hunger-related causes every day and more than
half a million children under the age of 15 died of AIDS in 2005.
According to the Census Bureau, there are 8,310,000 children in
America without health insurance. The U.S. ranks 28th in the world in
infant mortality. There are nine million children between the ages of
6-19 in this country alone who are obese. And the Washington Post
"In 2002, about 6 percent of all boys and girls were taking
antidepressants, triple the rate in the period 1994-96. And about 14
percent of boys -- nearly one in seven -- were on stimulant drugs in
2002, double the number in 1994-96."
In the context of the real enormity of child abuse both in this
country and in the world as a whole, it is hardly surprising that we
allow the moral of the Foley story to be mis-framed as the sexual
proclivities of one man, rather than a symptom of a much larger crime.
If we truly valued families and the lives of children, these are the
issues we would address.
is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the
Feminist Peace Network. Her work has been published in
numerous publications in the U.S. and abroad including,
Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The
Progressive, Rain and Thunder,
Common Dreams and
Information Clearinghouse. She blogs at WIMN Online.