TEMECULA, California — Everyday more people and organizations around the world are speaking out and fighting against poverty as well as developing, studying and applying ways to obtain poverty reduction goals. In an effort to do just that, a recent TED talk video addresses what is said to be a key factor to ending global poverty.
The TED talk video titled, “The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now,” featured Gary Haugen, President and Founder of the International Justice Mission. He addresses what he believes is the missing link in ending poverty on a global scale. According to Haugen, in order to defeat poverty, one must end violence; the kind of violence that exploits and renders the poor helpless.
Haugen shared stories of people living in developing nations who had experienced such violence. He talked about Venus, a women he met in Zambia, who shared with him the story of her neighbor Brutus.
“‘We were doing fine,’ Venus told me, ‘until Brutus started to cause trouble,’” Haugen recalled. “Brutus just came and threw Venus and the kids out of the house, stole all their land and robbed their market stall. Venus was thrown into destitution by violence, and then it occurred to me that none of my child sponsorships, none of the micro loans, none of the traditional anti-poverty programs were going to stop Brutus because they weren’t meant to.”
Haugen also talked about Griselda and her experience being snatched off the streets and raped during daylight hours. He emphasized that these women were not the only victims.
“Around the world poor women and girls between the ages of 15-44 are victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence,” he said. “Those two types of violence account for more deaths than Malaria, than car accidents, than war, combined.”
In the past 35 years, extreme poverty has fallen from 50 percent to 15 percent, but Haugen also points out that despite aid and focused assistance, statistics show that the amount of people living under $2 a day equates to that of 35 years ago and believes it is largely due to violence that oppresses those in poverty and holds them in an economic depression.
“The path forward is really pretty clear,” Haugen says. “We have to start making stopping violence indispensable to the fight against poverty,” he said.
Haugen said that violence can be resolved through focusing on judicial systems in developing nations. In his talk, Haugen explained the importance of focusing efforts in order to stop violent acts against the poor and vulnerable such as Venus and Griselda; acts that he presumes drive the poor deeper into poverty and further from life above poverty lines.
The best way to combat violence, according to Haugen, is by strengthening the judicial system that exists in developing nations. With an estimated four billion people living outside the confines of a secure judicial system, perpetrators are more likely to carry on violent acts with little or no consequence.
Violent crimes Haugen references includes slave and sex trades achieved through human trafficking. According to the Global Slavery Index, there are approximately 36 million slaves in the world. This doesn’t account for the additional two million children sold into the sex trade, according to UNICEF. Strengthening the justice system and advocating for violence prevention methods are key to helping end global poverty.
In the post-2015 Millennium Development Goals, Haugen advocates for world leaders to prioritize justice and establish justice systems in developing worlds through ensuring accountability and reducing corruption within the system’s infrastructure. By targeting efforts on a justice system that seeks to protect the nation’s innocent and vulnerable and prevent violence against them, global poverty can be eradicated. According to Haugen, it’s not only about focusing on providing goods and services, although that is important too, but more than that, it’s about focusing efforts on achieving justice, which can ultimately make a great difference and alter the way leaders look at poverty reduction methods.
Haugen highlights that focusing efforts on the judicial system has worked in the past, which is more reason to create policies that target justice goals. According to the IJM, its model has been proven successful in holding transgressors accountable for their actions. Cambodia, for example, has lowered the amount of children in the sex trade, similar to Cebu, where the country saw a 79 percent decline of exploited minors in the sex trade over a span of four years.
“The problem is not that the poor do not have laws, but they don’t get law enforcement,” Haugen said. “What if there was no law enforcement to protect you?”
Haugen ends the TED talk with a call to action to end violence in developing nations, and by doing so, end global poverty all together.
“When our grandchildren ask us, ‘Grandma, Grandpa, where were you when 2 billion of the world’s poorest were drowning in the lawless chaos of everyday violence? I hope we can say that we had compassion, that we raised our voice, and, as a generation, we were moved to make the violence stop.”
– Nada Sewidan