Who is Angel?
I remember a couple years back meeting the most amazing little girl – her smile so radiant, her eyes filled with so much promise for a future of happiness.
When I first saw her I was instantly taken over by the sweet sounds of her voice and her chubby cheeks. She was 2 years old at the time, but she experienced so much more than what a normal 2 year old should. Her name was Angel; she originally came from China; her parents abused her, sold her and used her as compensation for drugs and as a pass to move across borders. When they were caught for the first time in America Angel was taken into foster care while her parents stood trial. After their trial they were able to gain custody of Angel – but her story doesn’t end there. Angel’s parents sold her again to get across the Canadian border and once they were caught again, Angel was taken into foster care one more time – landing in the home of one of my relatives where I met her for the first time.
We all knew that it was a matter of time before the verdict was released, and as we waited in anticipation, we became attached to this amazing little girl. In between the first meeting and the news of the final verdict I saw her a number of times – her story changed my life and her smile left a print in my heart. One day when I went over to my aunt’s house hoping to play with her, I found out that her parents won custody of her again and during the day, her parents took her from my aunt’s home. I was heartbroken because I had become so attached to Angel – but more than that, I was disturbed at the fact that the legal system failed this little innocent girl once again. Not only did the American system fail her but the Canadian system failed her, and I think that’s when I realised that one day to come I would want to do something about this issue. Years later and as I look around the world, the images paint a very horrific picture. God only knows what happened to Angel once her parents took her away – I’ve always wondered. I wonder if she was sold again, if she was abused even more, what her life had become, more so I wonder if she lived to see another day, and because of that my heart breaks everyday to think that there was nothing I could do to save her.
See, the problem is that there are so many underlying issues that come with Angel’s situation - and for many of us who have not been touched by a child like Angel or who are unaware of the extent of these issues, we tend to think that this isn’t such a big problem. But it really is – millions of girls and women are being abused, murdered, tortured, raped, trafficked etc. and the disgusting thing is that millions of individuals who have the power to do something about this issue turn a blind eye and have complete disregard for these girls and women. Violence against women and girls has not just been a recent problem – it’s been a problem since the creation of patriarchy. Millions of women and girls like Angel suffer at the hands of individuals who promote and sustain the patriarchal culture – and to be honest it’s not only men who are committing these violent acts, its women as well. The question is what can we do about this? How can we help? The answer – unifying our voices to put an end to this disgusting horror so many women and girls live. The answer – to join hand in hand with many other established charities, foundations, organizations to end violence against women and girls – to educate, protect, provide and promote gender equality and safety.
Growing up as a girl I was unaware of the extent of this issue – in fact, I believed that Canada was a country that stood for gender equality, and that women were respected and protected just as much as men were. Little did I realise how naïve I was. There exists a very devastating history of violence against women within Canada, and even till this day it is excruciatingly visible how worse the issue of gender-based violence has gotten. Until recently, I had no clue that thousands of Aboriginal women have been missing for years, and despite the efforts of many focus groups/foundations and lobby groups (such as Sisters in Spirit,) these women still remain missing and possibly dead. Lobby groups on numerous occasions have demanded that the government and the UN get involved and help save these women, but responses can only be seen as promising.
To be honest, we live in an era where technology has allowed for us to unite as advocates worldwide for the protection of children and women. As a result, we have within our hands the power to raise awareness about these issues and work towards eliminating them. I know that we cannot erase history, and it’s often very difficult to change the views of individuals who have been supporters of historical values like patriarchy. But the first step to creating a worldwide solution to these issues starts by raising awareness and uniting communities within states/countries on a daily basis. By getting children of all ages involved within their schools – teaching them about these issues, raising awareness, having fundraisers to help provide support for victims/survivors etc. Also, by uniting adults of all ages, and of all religions/cultures to unite, in order to help raise awareness and stop this “patriarchal” belief from spreading through future generations. Unless we as the future do not show to our respective government officials that these issues need to be addressed because they are important, they will not make the effort to make a change. Creating Saving Angel was the first part of accomplishing my goal – working with schools to raise awareness about these issues is actively, the second part of accomplishing my goal. By raising awareness and teaching the future generation about issues such as female genital mutilation, human trafficking, domestic violence, the red districts etc. we can provide them with the knowledge, tools and power to help destroy these devastating acts of violence against children and women. In the end, the more united we stand, the more power we can accumulate, and the more Angels we can save.