Crimes against childhood

by Stefania Kulayeva

Following the shooting down of Malaysian Airline MH17 flight, people started bringing flowers and toys to Dutch embassies. I couldn’t understand – who are these toys for, why?.. Are they the symbols of murdered children, children who will never play these or any other toys again, symbol of a child’s world destroyed in such a horrible and senseless way, symbol of murder of those Dutch, Australian, Indonesian and Malaysian children, who were shot during that flight?.. Or maybe people are right to bring these toys – it breaks one’s heart to see heaps of useless toys, just as it breaks one’s heart to see photos of heaps of children’s clothes in Nazi extermination camps.

People get used to the idea of inevitability of death, and it’s only children who can neither understand, nor accept this inevitability, this natural character of death. But nobody should accept death of children as either inevitable or possible – while there are adults in this world, they should save the children, not kill them…

Dr. Joep Lange (Joseph Lange), who was one of the passengers of this flight, devoted his life to saving children. For more than 30 years he worked on finding ways to save people from HIV, he made a considerable contribution to the studies of this virus, worked on various schemes, which helped to treat of prevent people contracting HIV. It is thanks to the studies of people like him that in most cases we now can prevent contraction of HIV by babies born from HIV-infected mothers. This means millions of saved lives not only of our contemporaries, but of future children to be born, who will not have to die of this terrible disease, whose lives will be saved by science, reason, humanity of those who struggled against the spread of HIV in late XXth and early XXIth centuries. Millions of children will live after Dr. Lange died together with all of his own children, who were with him on this flight. His knowledge, thoughts, actions, which he could undertake to save millions of lives, they, too, died with him. Will anybody express their condolences to the enormous and still growing community of HIV-infected people, to all those whose dreams were shot down together with this airplane? Can we call this cold-blooded shooting down of an airplane full of people and their minds and hopes anything but a crime against humanity?

I think it’s high time now to introduce a term “crimes against childhood”. Humanity is very varied, criminals being part of humanity. But there is a vast part of humanity, which consists of children and babies. They will live in future, but they also live right now, they should live, their lives, their world should be saved in spite of the fact that they are the most endangered, especially in those countries, where children account for a larger portion of the population. Joep Lange – among other things – also established a foundation providing drugs for Sub-Saharan African countries, which have a lot of people suffering from various diseases and not enough drugs.

Crimes against children are not uncommon in our country, where there are not so many children at the moment and where calculating authorities state that the number of children is “insufficient” and think of various ways to increase it by measures such as a ban on open homosexuality (do they really believe – as they state they do – that this is a way to increase birth rate?) or providing financial assistance and free medical care to families with many children.

But in their desire to increase birth rates in Russian Federation authorities are not trying to save those children, who already were born and live in our country, thus a range of cruel anti-children laws adopted recently: from the infamous ban on adopting Russian children by foreign nationals to a recent initiative to refuse registration of children born outside of Russian medical care system or the hilarious proposal to ban any critique of teachers by children whatsoever. Adults fight against other adults, but it is children who are victims in these fights. In one case the legislators propose to punish bad mothers, who for one reason or another decided to give birth to their child at home instead of a hospital, and they propose to deny registration of children. We are not here to discuss the details of this measure and all the arguments of those who pointed out that women not always give birth to children where and when they want to. Ok, let’s agree that mothers in some cases may be punished, but why children have to be punished? How can a child grow up with registration, without a name or identity documents? Did the deputies even think about this? Looks like it was not the case. And why is that? Because they do not think about children, they think about adults only.

And those who wanted to make a teacher a sort of policeman, a figure beyond any criticism, by making criticism of a teacher an action equal to a serious legal offense? Sure, they thought about the teachers, poor teachers who become victims of bullying by the children, but they failed to think about children, who become victims of adults, who already have considerable powers at school. They themselves are not children anymore, why should they bother to think about children?

And those who shot a passenger plane in the sky, did they think about children? Of course, not, they were trying to straighten things up with other adults, not children. But of all the most horrible and unacceptable crimes, the one that calls for the strongest punishment, is the crime against children and childhood. Adults, who kill children, same as adults, who deprive children of protection, should be indeed tried for these crimes.

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