In the twenty-first century, terrifying customs, cultural norms, and social problems that degrade human dignity, health, and life still exist in the world. Although these issues are all consequences of a person’s personal choice, many of them are also supported by law or cultural and religious characteristics of the countries in which they practice. Child marriage, female circumcision, violence, and abuse are often directed against people who are unable to fend for themselves, such as children and women. Therefore, this paper will discuss the problems of violence in various forms of manifestation to find the causes of their occurrence and a solution for them.
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The first issue to discuss is the war and the fate of the children soldiers. Although wars are terrible and traumatic in all their manifestations, the recruitment of children in the army is a serious problem that violates their rights and traumatizes them. In the video, Ishmael Beah says that the army was like shelter and family for him; however, drugs and propaganda forced him to do things that he barely understood (Captaindarwin, 2012). Consequently, unlike adults, who consciously become soldiers and undergo training, children are only puppets in the hands of the militaries. Wyness (2016) notes that the traumatic events of war affect such children’s future because, without professional help, they often turn into criminals or suffer mental problems. Thus, forcing children to become soldiers is a terrible practice as it leads to their death or deprives them of a chance for a happy future.
The solution to this problem is not simple and certain, since during the war, many laws and human rights are violated, and compliance with international standards is problematic. For this reason, the only solution that may be effective is the timely intervention of peacekeeping organizations. Moreover, part of the effort should be aimed at creating conditions in which children will not seek salvation in the army, and another part of the help should be directed at saving and rehabilitating children who have already become soldiers. Although this approach cannot completely solve the problem, it will significantly reduce the number of victims.
Another unfair issue is child marriage, which is common in the world. The practice of marriage arrangements for girls is common in many Muslim countries since the early marriage of daughters allows their parents to improve their economic situation. At the same time, Seff et al. (2019) note that early marriages lead to health problems for young women, increase depression, and virtually eliminate the chance of happy family life. Nujood Ali’s story confirms this fact since a girl was raped by her husband before reaching puberty (Journeyman Pictures, 2013). Although the girl got a divorce, this experience forced her to abandon the idea of marriage, which will affect her adult relationship.
However, similar practices still exist in the United States as well as in developing countries. In many cases in the United States, early marriages are the result of parental pressure, and it is still a common idea that marrying a rapist helps save a girl’s honor (McFarlane et al., 2016; Seff et al. 2019). Both statements are supported by examples of Angel and Shari Jonson, since both women married at the age of 13 and 11, respectively (BBC News, 2017). Many children do not have the protection of the law from early marriage at an age when they do not understand its meaning.
Consequently, the solution to the problem is to establish 18 years as the minimum age for marriage at the federal level. At the same time, in some Muslim countries, it is also necessary to direct efforts to change the religious perception of such a decision, since some orthodox representatives often put religious laws higher than legal ones. Thus, marriages can be organized due to cultural traditions but not the law, which does not change the essence of the situation. For this reason, a gradual change in cultural traditions, for example, by religious leaders’ influence, is also necessary.
Another dangerous, harmful, and degrading dignity of women tradition is female circumcision. This practice exists due to the religious or cultural belief that a woman should not experience pleasure during sexual intercourse, since it is intended only for the conception of children. For this reason, girls undergo a painful and traumatic clitoris removal procedure before reaching puberty age. A video about such a practice in Egypt demonstrates that such a practice is rooted in the culture and minds of people, so even a legal ban does not stop many women from performing such procedures on their daughters (Locomotiv63, 2012). In addition, the ban even worsened the situation as parents are afraid to go to the hospital if their daughters have a complication after illegal operations due to fear of punishment.
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It is also surprising that, although adult women have experienced such a painful and traumatic experience, they believe that their daughters also need it. However, the positive thing is that part of the population is aware that genital mutilation is a cruel and unnecessary part of their culture or religion and is opposed to this tradition (Locomotiv63, 2012). Diabate and Mesplé-Somps (2019) also note that there is a positive trend among returning migrants as they change the opinion of stayers about the need for genital mutilation of women in the country. Therefore, these facts indicate that the elimination of this traumatic tradition is possible.
Legal prohibition of female genital mutilation in all countries simultaneously with educational activities is a solution to this problem. The example of Egypt demonstrates that the ban is not sufficient, and only a change in cultural beliefs contributes to the cessation of this practice. Campaigning should be comprehensive in such forms as television commercials, sermons by religious leaders, and educational events. Schools also should explain to girls the harm and consequences of such a practice, since often children do not even realize what procedure they are forced to go through because mothers hide facts from them. This knowledge helps girls persuade their parents to abandon this practice, or they will be able to recognize parents’ intentions and ask the police for help. These changes will take a lot of time, but, eventually, they will force people to abandon female circumcision.
However, one of the most significant and widespread problems in the world is child abuse. The video shows terrible statistics and stories of child abuse that could not be avoided (J&R Vela, 2011). At the same time, Ghani (2018) notes that abuse is not limited to physical violence as it can also be expressed in negligence, psychological violence, or abusive relationships between partners. It should also be noted that even a single episode of anger and its physical manifestation in relation to a child can have a traumatic effect. Didisen et al. (2019) say that prolonged crying of a baby often causes parents stress and anger, which makes them shake their baby harder
Most often, parents do not want to harm the child but are not aware of their actions’ consequences (Didisen et al., 2019). However, the structure of the infant’s body is fragile, and such a shaking can cause axonal injuries and hemorrhage, which is characterized as Shaken Baby Syndrome (Sandra Tavares, 2009). Therefore, any manifestation of violence is harmful to children and must be eliminated.
The solution to this problem is a systematic assessment of the family’s mental health, relationships, and living conditions. For example, Marcus’s foster parents killed him, which indicates poor-quality testing of candidates for adoption by social services (J&R Vela, 2011). Besides, physicians should also evaluate mothers of a newborn child to diagnose postnatal depression and avoid its manifestation in relation to the baby. Control by social services, teachers in kindergartens, and schools can detect violence in the early stages and prevent it. In addition, new parents should also be educated by nurses about the principles of an infant’s body functioning to avoid Shaken Baby Syndrome.
In conclusion, statistics and stories from around the world demonstrate that society is still confronted with cruelty and violence because of the prejudices or irresponsibility of people. In most cases, traditions and customs bring suffering to those who have less influence, rights, or physical strength and, therefore, cannot defend themselves. Consequently, the main steps to solve these problems are the gradual change of violent rules and traditions, as well as the validation of their illegality in all countries of the world. This process can take decades, but over time the situation will improve, just as it has happened with racial or gender inequality in democratic countries.
BBC News. (2017). Why does the US have so many child brides? – BBC News [Video File]. Web.
Captaindarwin. (2012). Ishmael Beah: Boy soldier of Sierra Leone [Video File]. Web.
Diabate, I., & Mesplé-Somps, S. (2019). Female genital mutilation and migration in Mali: Do return migrants transfer social norms? Journal of Population Economics, 32(4), 1125–1170.
Didisen, N. A., Sevgili, S. A., Zengin, D., & Ozkutuk, N. (2019). Investigation of parents’ knowledge levels of and attitudes towards Shaken Baby Syndrome. International Journal of Caring Sciences, 12(2), 946–952.
Ghani, M. A. (2018). The impacts of domestic violence on children: Perspectives from women in Malaysia who experience abuse. Child Welfare, 96(3), 103–117.
Journeyman Pictures. (2013). Why Yemen won’t ban child marriage and rape [Video File]. Web.
J&R Vela. Child abuse in America 2011 [Video File]. Web.
Locomotiv63. (2012). Female genital mutilation in Egypt [Video File]. Web.
McFarlane, J., Nava, A., Gilroy, H., & Maddoux, J. (2016). Child brides, forced marriage, and partner violence in America: Tip of an iceberg revealed. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 127(4), 706–713.
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Sandra Tavares. (2009). The rupture of bridging veins in Shaken Baby Syndrome [Video File]. Web.
Seff, I., Williams, A., Hussain, F., Landis, D., Poulton, C., Falb, K., & Stark, L. (2020). Forced sex and early marriage: Understanding the linkages and norms in a humanitarian setting. Violence Against Women, 26(8), 787–802.
Wyness, M. (2016). Childhood, human rights and adversity: The case of children and military conflict. Children & Society, 30(5), 345–355.