Like most of the world, we are in lockdown—and Shield of the Children’s investigative operations are on hold as a result of the pandemic. Our mission, however, hasn’t changed. We are committed to the children of South-East Asia, and will resume our normal operations when we are able.
Behind the scenes, we are as busy as ever. We are in touch with our partners in other countries and are receiving regular reports from them. Our team is working on strategy, policy, and recruiting so that we are stronger than ever when the lockdown is over. And we now have a media team! We also have the opportunity to lend our practical and tactical support to a local ministry in South-East Asia who are responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
Locally, we recently encountered a teenage girl called Defi* walking along a village road. Due to a mental illness, she couldn’t recall her name or age, but she is around 15 years old. She was homeless, unwashed and into her third trimester of pregnancy as a result of rape.
We try not to operate locally or mention the Shield name in our area, but through a partner organisation, we have been able to help Defi with health care, counselling, registration for government services, and help with her physical needs.
A few weeks ago, Defi gave birth to a baby boy. Sadly, she abandoned her baby and ran away, leaving a letter explaining her inability to care for her son. Our partner organisation has placed him in the home of a beautiful couple who are unable to have children of their own. Aside from some mild jaundice, he is gorgeous and healthy, and will now grow up in a loving environment.
Update*: We have since located her and she has agreed to stay with contacts that we have, so she does now have a roof over her head again and food. However, she does not want to meet her baby or have anything to do with him.
While physical sex tourism has dipped and many adult sex workers return to their villages for lockdown, there has been a sharp increase in OSEC (Online Sexual Exploitation of Children). Children in vulnerable communities are still being exploited. This must not stand.
*Not her real name