Today's newspapers had encouraging news on action being taken against the genocide in Darfur. Unfortunately, the papers had extremely discouraging news on the country of Cambodia. First, to the good news. The South China Morning Post, the International Herald Tribune, and the Asian Wall Street Journal all carried the story of film director Steven Spielberg quitting his role as "artistic adviser to the Games' opening and closing ceremonies" on their front pages. Here is what he said in a letter to the Chinese ambassador and the Beijing Olympic committee: "conscience will not allow me to continue with business as usual. Sudan's government bears the bulk of responsibility for these ongoing crimes but the international community, and particularly China, should be doing more to end the continuing human suffering there."*
This is significant, not only because it is being said, but because of who is saying it. As actor Don Cheadle commented, "One guy like Steven is in a position like that is like 100 other guys...Those are the kinds of moves, that if they catch fire, and other people think of boycotting, or refraining, the cumulative effect could be something that potentially could change the calculation of that government." Good for Spielberg and good for the people suffering in Darfur. China must stop underwriting the mass execution of innocent people in Darfur and getting China's attention is the fine intention of Spielberg and hopefully more to come.*
But, now the bad news. The South China Morning Post had a horrific story today entitled "Endless Nightmare," which tells of child prostitution in the poverty stricken corners of Cambodia. The story is the kind that makes you want to sell everything you have, take the money, and move there to do something about stopping the unspeakable violence against innocent children as young as four, five, and six. Right in Phnom Penh and surrounding areas paedophiles are ravaging the bodies, minds, and spirits of these precious children. Many of these criminals are foreigners, some are Cambodians themselves. The article tells of four, middle aged Frenchmen scouting the area. A local, 12 year-old tells the author that these men, "They like girls...small girls." And he points to a mother who will rent her daughter "for the price of a hamburger."
The SCMP continues, "Today, with tourism increasing by 30 percent a year and many police, judges, and politicians taking bribes, the illegal sex trade is booming. US charity World Vision last year said that 15 percent of the Cambodian boys they surveyed had been sexually abused before reaching their 10th birthday. About a third of the roughly 80,000 to 100,000 prostitutes in Cambodia are children, according to Canada-based NGO Future Group." This is evil. And, like in Darfur, the world must take action in order to make a difference for hundreds of thousands of small children not only in Cambodia but everywhere abuse makes its dark appearance. So, on this day of love, don't forget the women, child, and men love forgets to comfort. And do your part to make a difference.
*All quotes in this paragraph taken from the International Herald Tribune, February 14, 2008.