The reason many anti-poverty programs do not reach their potential, according to Gary Haugen (Human Rights Attorney), is because they fail to address one key issue: violence.

In a survey amongst some of the poorest communities it turned out that their greatest fear was violence. Yes you read that right: not war or genocide, but everyday violence!

Of course there are plenty of laws to protect the human rights of the poor, however, law enforcement in poor communities is more often than not limited which makes it ‘easier’ for people’s rights to be violated. According to the UN the majority of poor people live outside of the protection of the law.

A Tragic Example:

Gary has encountered countless examples were violence causes poverty alleviation programs to fail. One such example is Venus, who was thrown out of her house by her own neighbour, together with her son, when her husband died. All her possessions were taken, including her market stall. Venus was therefore thrown into destitution because of violence.

It was then that Garry realised that non of the traditional anti-poverty initiatives he had been sponsoring were actually working without addressing the issue of violence. Without restraining the bullies your long term impact in alleviating poverty is going to be disappointing.

Did You Know?

Did you know that domestic and sexual violence account for more death and disability than Malaria, car accidents and war COMBINED? With the poor trapped in a systems of violence such as beatings, rape and torture, violence is squandering the success of many poverty alleviation schemes. Researchers couldn’t even identify 1% of total aid going towards protecting the poor from lawless chaos. After a century of anti-poverty programs, more people are enslaved today (35 million) than in any moment in history!

Gary asks us to open up our eyes and acknowledge that violence is something that should be at the heart of aid programs designed to fight poverty. Gary criticized an aid organisation, who celebrated the construction of a water well closer to the girls homes who fetched the water, after the girls were raped on their way to a water well further away. We seem to be missing the point here and should really focus on punishing the perpetrators. Consider his argument by watching his talk below. You are likely to be shocked by the huge consequences failure of adequate law enforcement has, which becomes especially vivid when he plays a dramatic 911 call, which could not be acted upon.

Categories: Charity


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