His travels through Rwanda, Uganda, and Sierra Leone would have him bear witness to the effects of genocide and other forms of collective violence on children by viewing pages and pages of their startlingly similar art therapy drawings—men holding machetes and blood dripping down the pages; through his meetings with children in Uganda who had been abducted to become soldiers or sex slaves; and remembrance of the mutilation of 20,000 children made amputees by the Radical Force “in order to cow the population into subservience.” The physical and mental effects of this kind of violence on the functional development of these children, if they indeed survived the ordeal at all, were visibly present in the scars that marred and mutilated their bodies, the anger in their eyes and faces, and the trauma-induced mutism that prevented them from even describing their ordeals. He also posited that ignoring epidemics of preventable illness in children can be seen as a form of maltreatment of children, citing data from a Save the Children publication that 28,000 children die each day and 10 million each year from preventable illness. Mr. Lewis suggested that these data contribute to the complex explanation of the declines of many of the hard-won gains in child survival around the world since the 1980s.
The horror in the slaughtering of 800,000 people in Rwanda in 1994, without international intervention, is relived now in Darfur where, within four years, there have been a quarter of a million deaths and unparalleled campaigns of sexual violence and rape. Still, in his observation, the 13-year-old promises of the international community for vigilance to prevent recurrences of such “human depravity and dementia” are unmet. He queried whether there is a “subterranean racism at work in all of this” that regards the peoples of Africa who, in his experience, have such generous spirit, intelligence, sophistication, and decency, as so “profoundly expendable over such a long period of time.” Lewis stated that in many parts of the moderate and low-income world, societies feel under siege—as if coming apart at the seams with the imminent possibility of disintegration.
An underlying part of much of the violence, Stephen Lewis stated, is acute and overwhelming poverty, where nearly 2.5 billion people globally subsist on anywhere from less than $1 per day to $750 per year. Violence can be seen in the context of economic development. He pointed out that the first Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations, which seeks to reduce poverty and hunger by 50 percent by the year 2015, speaks directly to the resultant consequences of their relationship. He also reviewed how international financial aid policies of the last 20-30 years, including conditions that reduce access to health care and education, may have contributed to the disintegration of the fabric of many different societal sectors and directly or indirectly induced individual and broader society violence.
In conclusion, he enumerated a number of items that he felt are significant for elevating the issue on the global agenda. The first was the need for