I'm not sure if it was the current U.S. debate over gun laws after the Colorado shooting or my own stance on the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that got me thinking about the world's outlook on gun control lately.
One of the first articles (maybe even THE first one) I wrote as a guest writer for Film Annex was about child soldiers in Afghanistan. It's a scary world we live in. When and why did someone think it was an acceptable idea to give a child a gun and force them into combat? It's somewhat comparable to allowing a child to work in a factory. Both are dangerous situations that shouldn't be accessible to children.
This month, the world has seen a warlord convicted of forcing children into combat. Justice is slowly making it's way to the hushed voices of child soldiers around the world. But they are still trying to get a voice in this issue, as I have seen through the case of ex-child soldier, Omar Khadr. A 15-year old Afghan child soldier captured and brought to Canada for trial in 2001. His crime: throwing a grenade at and ultimately killing a U.S. soldier.
Without any backstory to child soldier recruitment around the world, I would've instantly thought he deserved to be convicted. A 15-year old would know the difference between what's right and what's wrong. But I'm not completely oblivious to the social issue of using children as weapons in war. Seen as young and naive, easy to manipulate, and expendable to the criminals who kidnap, brain wash, and force them into combat are the child soldiers of the world.
But the injustice doesn't just include the actions of their country's armed groups. It has been reported by U.S. government officials to the U.N. officials that juveniles (anyone under the age of 18) of the Afghanistan war, child soldiers were not always treated with the best respect. In accordance to the ratified international treaty to protect formally known as the Optical Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Children, these children are kept in these detentions so that the U.S. can provide rehabilitation or reintegration assistance to former juvenile detainees while following to international human rights laws. Physically and psychological abused and treated as if they were inmates in a high security penitentiary? Omar Khadr has spent a decade in prison. I understand their crimes, but that doesn't mean they aren't children.
It seems that wherever they are placed in their involvement with war, the children never seem to be treated as children. A 10-year old who grew up in a suburb with a good family, has good grades, and without fear of knowing when he/she will get his/her next meal suddenly wielding a gun and killing tens of people because they had a bad month doesn't compare, or is as justifiable, to the life a child soldier. First world problems.
Knowing that I have a choice for whatever my future will be, without a physical threat to my well-being, my family, or my home, I can write this article with a heavy heart imagining what would happen if I didn't.
When will the child soldiers recruitment of Afghanistan become the past? The number of children recruited has become terrifyingly high. Innocence. When will child recruitment become vanquished from the world?
Keisha Douglas is an independent filmmaker who specializes in music videos. When she is not filming, she spends much of her time blogging and freelance writing. She is the voice behind Mito Vox, an entertainment & etc. blog. To learn more about her freelance services visit her website. View all her Film Annex posts on her WebTv Channel.