Save Our Girls

There has been much talk lately about girls sent back to their “home countries” too never return again.

I remember this from when I was growing up,  It was a very normal phenomenon back then.
Girls being sent abroad to “learn” about their culture. Going on vacation only to come home either engaged or married.

Read more about the importance of loving your kids.

At that time, there was always that fear of being sent back.
If your parents decided that you were too “western-minded” and needed to leave, then there wouldn’t be anybody that could help you.

When our parents came in the 60’ties and 70’ties everything was so new to them.
They came to work in the west, not knowing if they were going to stay or be going back.

The countries they arrived in, didn’t use resources to integrate them into the society. Since they didn’t feel like a part of it, they held on to their own traditions.
If they were to leave this country, at least they will have something to fall back on.

The shocking thing is that this praxis is still ongoing.
In 2017 parents are still sending their girls abroad to get what they think is a “proper traditional upbringing”.

The other day I saw a documentary about it and it took me straight back to my school years.

When I went to school, I had a really good friend. She was the strong silent type and never afraid of getting into fights. I loved her because she was such a loving person, always so sweet and very good at sharing things.

Specifically remember her markers, they always smell so good. I used to ask her how come her markers smelled so good?
She then told me she use to put perfume in them, which also made them last longer, which I thought was genius.

Another thing I remember so vividly is that she always brought tuna sandwich to school and she was always good at sharing. I serious can’t remember tasting better tuna sandwich than hers ever.

But there was darkness in her life. She had a lot of issues at home.
Her brother was a tyrant and always got into fights with her. Since he was bigger than her he used to bet her up severely.
Her parents never tried to stop their fights. Often she would end up getting a beating from her parents too for fighting her elder brother.

They never took her side, since she was a girl and they actually thought it was ok (!!) that he beat her up.
At least she’ll ” to learn to respect her elder brother” instead of fighting with him.

She hated going home from school because when she came home. She was not allowed to go out again unless it was for school activities.

Then one day a new girl started in our class and the two of them became very good friends.
They both came from violent homes and got beaten up regularly. They were restricted in their lives and weren’t allowed to do anything.

When talking to others about their situation, they realized that what they were experiencing at home was not ok. The two of them started dreaming about being free, not being forced to wear a scarf and to be allowed to have friends. They just wanted to be like any other girl.

One day feed up with their situation, both of them decided to run away from home.
They contacted a hotline for kids in need and told them about their situation.
Chocked, the Hotline asked them to contact a Youth Center that houses young kids that had run away from home due to their circumstances.

The day came where the girl finally fleed, they contacted the youth center to get shelter but they were told to go home.
The Youth center didn’t have enough room and wanted them to come back another day. It was late in the afternoon and the girls couldn’t go home now.

They took shelter at a friends place who has just ended her studies at our school, and they stayed there for all most a week.

The girl’s parents were devasted and searched for them everywhere. I remember they came by my parents several times wanted to know where they were.

A week later the parents found the girls.
The sister of the girl who gave them shelter told my sister that the two girls had stayed at their place almost a week and that it was becoming quite annoying.

When they went to get the girls, The girl’s parents dragged her out of the house by her hair.
After that, I remember she came to school for a short period of time.
She was not allowed to talk to her friends and her parents had specifically told the teacher to be aware of it.

But kids always manage to talk anyway. Coming home she had gotten the beating of her life and her parents were really angry with her and made life a living hell for her.

One day our teacher came to our class and told us that the girl will not be coming back since her family had decided to move back to their home country.

I know that it was something that affected all of us a lot, everyone was wondering why and what had happened.

Rumors started that she got married off to a soldier, who use to beat the crap out of her and that she had become a mom. Other rumors said that she had come back.
One of my classmates actually met her one day. She was married, but it wasn’t clear if she was back for good or only here to visit her family.

A couple of years ago another schoolmate told me that somebody with her name has sent her a message on Facebook and when she replied asking if it really was her?  The profile got closed down.

Still, to this day, she is on my mind. I can’t grasp why she got such an unfair life. Why did life turn out like that for her?
Whenever I hear anything that resembles her story I can’t help but think of her and how unfairly she was treated.

It makes me angry that there are girls out there getting their lives destroyed. Being a parent I can’t help but think how can anyone treat their child like that?

In pain you gave birth, you took care of your child in sickness and in sadness.
What happened?
What changed?
When did your child’s happiness stop being your priority?

How can you just send them away not knowing how they are, if they are taken care of?
How can anyone just marry them off to a complete stranger?
And it is almost never a loving or caring person, it seems like there is an “effort” in trying to find a person that treat them bad, hurt them. Why is that?
Wouldn’t you want the best of the best for your precious one?
Shouldn’t you aim to make sure your child gets a happy life?

How can you live with yourself?
That’s the main question on my mind, how can you treat someone so badly and still live with yourself.

I know if I treat someone unjustly it will keep nagging me and eat me alive, so how can life just go on like that, like nothing has happened?
It’s beyond me.

One thing is the parents do this to their kids.
What I have spent many years thinking about is. How the grown-ups around this girl seen it all and knowing what she’s been through, still didn’t do anything to help her.

I remember they talked to the school nurse (who advised them to call the children’s hotline.) She never reported what she had heard.
When they came to the youth center, they couldn’t help them. They didn’t have room and sent them back, well knowing what the consequences might be.

It could have been a matter of life and death, and they could have found another shelter for them, but they didn’t.

Later when the girls came back to school and everybody knew they had run away from hom.  The parents of the girls asked the teachers to make sure, that they didn’t socialize with their friends. They believed they have been a bad influence on them, the teachers respected the parent’s wishes.

Instead of reaching out to the girls, making sure they were ok after all they have been through or try to help them, they did nothing.
Shortly after we heard that the girls family have moved back to their home country (again from our teacher) I remember the kids in the class were devastated, but the school and the teachers couldn’t seem to care less.

How are kids suppose to fight for their right, when all the grown-ups turning the blind eye and pretend they didn’t see anything. No wonder a lot of the girls give up the fight because nobody seems to care.

This tendency to turn the blind eye is not only in cases like these girls. It happens in families where parents are violent or abusive, don’t take care of their children, alcoholics or drug users.

I saw a program about a girl who went through severe abuse and the teacher noticed it and felt bad for her.
The teacher told her to call her if ever things got really bad.
One night the girl did, after her mothers been drinking and beating her up, she texted her teacher asking her to help because she thought her mother was going to kill her.

But the teacher had guests, been drinking and it was inconvenient to pick up the girl and asked her to wait until the day after.

Even though she knew that the girl lived in severe abuse and might be killed, she turned the blind eye. She only needed to send a cab or actually go out and get her.
This small action could have helped the girl feel safe and cared for, but she didn’t do that.

Does our upbringing affect our relationships?

So what can we do to help those who can’t always help themselves?

–  If you are a child and you have some uncertainties about if you are coming back from the “family vacation”, you can fill out a document with where you are going and when you are expecting to be back
Give it to a trusted person, like a teacher or grown-up. If you are not back on that date, they can contact the right authorities.

If you are a child and your parents can’t take care of you, talk to a trusted grown-up about your situation. They help you sort out your situation, and get you the right help.

–  If you are a teacher or any grown-up who finds out that a kid is about to be sent abroad, contact the proper authorities and inform about the situation. You can do it anonymously.
Same goes if you see a child being abused or live in intolerable circumstances, call the proper authorities and inform them.

–  If you already been sent abroad, many countries offer hotlines you can call and talk to someone who can help you process what you been through and get you the right resources or help.

Times have changed and there are a lot of processes in order to prevent children being sent abroad or being abused.
There is a lot more help to get today then it was 15 years ago.
Always remember there is someone who cares and who wants to help you.

You are not alone, all you need to do is to reach out.

“All children have rights and those rights
must be protected”

UNICEF goodwill ambassador
Novak Djokovic


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