Parenthood often consists of balancing risks. Let me remind you of some of the dangers faced by children in Iraq:
“45. Children remained victims in Iraq in many ways. Although not necessarily targeted, they are killed or maimed in sectarian-motivated attacks and in terrorist and insurgency acts. They are civilian casualties in MNF-I and Iraqi security forces-led raids against insurgents or militias, and suffer the most from other political, social and economic consequences of Iraqi’s violent daily reality. The extent of violence in areas other than the Region of Kurdistan is such that likely every child, to some degree, has been exposed to it. Children suffering disabilities have also been unable to access adequate care and education. … … …
47. In one case the body of a 12-year-old Osama was reportedly found by the Iraqi Police in a plastic bag after his family paid a ransom of some 30,000 US dollars. The boy had been sexually assaulted by the kidnappers, before being hanged by his own clothing. The police captured members of this gang who confessed of raping and killing many boys and girls before Osama. … … …
53. Additional hardship for families and children is caused by the lack of adequate places to socialize, play and learn as would be necessary for their healthy development. Many Iraqis complain of having to keep their children at home for prolonged periods of time.”
or this report of how Hani Saadoun was killed:
“12 years old – hauled off the street whipped with electric cables, violated with an electric drill, shot, body dragged through the streets.”
One of the constant themes I hear from friends still living in Iraq is the effect of the constant violence upon their children and their fury at the damage being done to their children. They have to balance between keeping their children locked up lest they fall victim to a bombing, a shooting, or worse, and the need every child has to get out and play. The photograph shows part of an increasingly common solution. These Baghdadi children are playing just outside their front door. The hand holding the gun is that of their father. Iraq is a heavily urbanised society and increasingly an arms-bearing one. A generation of children are growing up with the idea that it is necessary to be armed and to be prepared to kill. A generation of parents are buying guns – and they know who they blame for collapsing their society thereby creating the appallingly dangerous environment in which their children are growing up. They blame the Americans, the people who created that environment. It’s a good reason to hate somebody, putting your children in danger, a very good reason.