United against terror

On 8/19/1982, in an extraordinary emergency session held in view of the great number of children victims of the war in the Middle East, the General Assembly of the United Nations established June 4 as the International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression.

In his article entitled "Isabellas clandestinas" [Clandestine Isabellas], published in the Folha de S.Paulo newspaper on 4/20/08, combative journalist Gilberto Dimenstein presented the conclusion of an unpublished survey carried out by the Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP), which investigated the behavior of 800 families living on the outskirts of the São Paulo state capital. In the course of this analysis the journalist wrote ". . . the clandestine Isabellas, victims of domestic violence who, because of their social condition and of impunity, do not make the news."

Dimenstein continues: "Despite the information still being preliminary, researchers found that 20 percent of the children were victims of beatings, suffocation, kicks or burns, which resulted in wounds or fractures. . . . UNIFESP is going to closely investigate the numbers already disclosed by USP’s LACRI (Child Studies Laboratory), which are based on a wide variety of sources, such as hospitals, guardianship councils, and courts: between 1996 and 2007, 49,481 cases of serious violence committed by family members against children in their own homes were recorded. In this period there were 532 deaths. The entity from USP admits that just a small proportion of the cases are denounced. Most of the times the subject is buried under a layer of complicit silence."

. . .

Rights of the child and adolescent

For more than six decades the Legion of Good Will (LGW) has been working for the well-being of families, especially of children and adolescents at risk of social vulnerability. It has never stopped raising public awareness of the issue from the viewpoint of all-encompassing ecumenical spirituality, since as we have highlighted, spiritual duties must be urgently understood so that human rights are fully respected, including those of the victim, not only those of the criminal.

On 5/14/08 the LGW was present in the Annual Assembly of the State Council of Defense of Children and Adolescents in Rio de Janeiro, a body presided over by his Excellency Court of Appeals Judge Siro Darlan. The Good Will Portal (www.boavontade.com) recorded: "On being greeted by representatives from the Legion of Good Will who were present at the event, judge Darlan emphasized: ‘The LGW is a long-time partner of ours, which provides excellent service to the cause of children and adolescents in Brazil. We know that the Legion of Good Will is a powerful channel of communication and action . . . . The LGW is a center of excellence and above all of citizenship.’ At the time, the judge invited the organization to take part in the 18-year celebrations of the Statute of the Child and Adolescent (ECA), which took place on July 13, 2008. ‘We want to strengthen our partnership with the LGW in order to celebrate not only the 18 years of ECA, but counting on its network to divulge the Rights of the Child and Adolescent. One of the ways we achieve the democratization of rights and citizenship in our country is to respect the fundamental rights of human beings, and we want to count on this partnership with the LGW.’"

This is a challenge we have ahead of us. And to those who still might think it is difficult to overcome it we leave this statement from Jesus: "For humans this is impossible, but for God all things are possible" (Matthew 19:26).

With such tremendous encouragement let us all, world citizens, work to put an end to this horrifying chaos.

José de Paiva Netto is a writer, journalist, radio broadcaster, composer, and poet. He is the President of the Legion of Good Will (LGW), effective member of the Brazilian Press Association (ABI) and of the Brazilian International Press Association (ABI-Inter). Affiliated to the National Federation of Journalists (FENAJ), the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the Union of Professional Journalists of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Writers of Rio de Janeiro, the Union of Radio Broadcasters of Rio de Janeiro, and the Brazilian Union of Composers (UBC). He is also a member of the Academy of Letters of Central Brazil. He is an author of international reference in the concept and defense of the cause of Ecumenical Citizenship and Spirituality which, according to him, constitute “the cradle of the most generous values that are born of the Soul, the dwelling of the emotions and of the reasoning enlightened by intuition, the atmosphere that embraces everything that transcends the ordinary field of matter and comes from the elevated human sensitivity, such as Truth, Justice, Mercy, Ethics, Honesty, Generosity, and Fraternal Love.”