Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Locust Effect: Why The End Of Poverty Requires The End Of Violence

In the following quote Gary Haugen sums up the title and the premise of his new book The Locust Effect. “Without the world noticing, the locusts of common, criminal violence are right now ravaging the lives and dreams of billions of our poorest neighbors.” It is rare, that a statement like this, one so enormous, so far reaching in its implications, so shocking in its claim can also be undeniably true. As with the holocaust or the purgings of Stalin or Mao's "great leap forward" that saw 45 million killed in 4 years, all humanity wonders aloud how this could be happening under our noses, "without the world noticing". They ask where the good people are? The collective ego assumes we have evolved past this sort of mass evil. Mr. Haugen goes on to indict us all.

“One would hope that if the world woke up to such a reality, it would swiftly acknowledge and respond to the disaster—but tragically, the world has neither woken up to the reality nor responded in a way that offers meaningful hope for the poor. It has mostly said and done nothing. And as we shall see, the failure to respond to such a basic need—to prioritize criminal justice systems that can protect poor people from common violence—has had a devastating impact on two great struggles that made heroic progress in the last century but have stalled out for the poorest in the twenty-first century: namely, the struggle to end severe poverty and the fight to secure the most basic human rights.”

Here are just a few statistics from The Locust Effect that we at COH found excruciating.

-29.8 million men, women and children enslaved today

-70% of women in Peru have been the victims of rape or attempted rape.

-95% of women and girls who have reported sexual violence are still waiting for justice. Average wait time 6 years for those that finally get justice. Most do not.

-Only 5 perpetrators of forced labor in India have been arrested in the last 15 years. There are upwards of 10 million enslaved in India in forced labor.

-Worldwide there are nearly 2 million children in the sex trade.

-Every year 5 million people are the victims of forced eviction. 

-In the developing world school is the most prevalent place for sexual violence. This means more girls denied education when parents keep them home to keep them safe. And of course many girls dropping out of school traumatized by the sexual violence.

-And finally, the statistic that brings this all together in staggering, mind-bending soul-crushing fashion, 4 billion of the world's poorest people are estimated to live outside of the protection of the law.

In the absence of enforced law the strong take from the weak whenever they desire. Land, sex, physical labor; all the poor have, coerced or stolen or worse from them all across the developing world. The problem is deeply complex, rooted in and mired by years of bad governance and inattention by the world community. And though it speaks to the wickedness men are capable of it also reveals how this same wickedness can be kept in relative check where there is rule of law. Please read this book. It will change how you understand poverty, how you view the world. 

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