What sort of parent you ask? What sort of parent sends their child to an unknown country, unaccompanied, to a life in a detention centre. A life without rights, a life without education and a life with no future. It’s hard to watch and it is even harder to know what to do. When it’s the bad parent across the road from home we can talk to the neighbours, say something to the teacher at school and when things really get bad make that annoymous call to the police or community services.
But this is different, who do you call on this bad parent? Who do you call when you know a child is going to live behind razor wire, witness acts of self harm and suicide and potentially face sexual assault. Who do you call when the bad parent is the Immigration minister of Australia Chris Bowen and the child is a refugee?
Under Australian law those children who arrive in Australia unaccompanied, by plane or boat, are placed under the guardianship of the Immigration Minister of the day. Guardian’s just like parents (who are the legal guardian of their children) have a responsibility to the personal and property well being of a child. The law does this because as a society we believe children are incapable because of their age to do so for themselves and understand the need for children to be cared for in a proper and appropriate manner.
Today we learn Chris Bowen has become the guardian for 14 new children who have arrived in Australia by boat. They are unaccompanied, they aren’t with their parents and they have nothing at all. So how will he care for them and protect their interests?
They’ll be herded onto a plane by the AFP and sent to a detention centre in Malaysia where they will have no rights to work, access to education facilities most inner suburbs people wouldn’t send their dog and face an uncertain future. These children will have most likely lost their parents to war, famine or disease. They will have witnessed things that are unspeakable and that would have you or I in therapy and reaching for the Xanax by the hour. And now their new parent, their new guardian, Chris Bowen will not assist these vulnerable children rebuild their lives, but send them to a third world country where their life will almost certainly be ruined beyond repair.
For unaccompanied children there is an extra danger in Malaysia. It isn’t the malnutrition, it’s not the lack of education or health facilities, it is not being locked behind razor wire or having no future. It is the prospect of being forced into the seedy world of child exploitation, slavery and the sex trade. Malaysia acts as a hub for both the internal distribution of child sex slaves and also the exportation of children from Malaysia to countries both in Asia and Europe for the child sex trade. Children with no guardian, on their own, with no rights and nobody to protect them are easy targets for those who would trade in the most vulnerable of all commodities. What would you do if you knew a parent in your area was selling their daughter to men for sex?
It cannot in any way, shape or form be considered the responsible actions of a Guardian. It is not what a good parent would do and it goes against all the ethics and morals we hold so dear as a Nation. This is not a “fair go”, this is not what a first world democracy does with unaccompanied children. We are talking about lives, lives just as precious as any other child anywhere else on earth. Just as important as our own. What would you think about the trafficking of children into the sex trade being done by your Government, in your name? It is not just what you think, it is what will you do!
We urge you to contact the office of Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and respectfully ask him NOT to send any unaccompanied children to Malaysia.
Tel: (02) 6277 7860