NOTE: This post may contain some content that isn’t necessarily appropriate for little eyes.

Imagine living in a world where your daily reality includes being at risk of extreme forms of violence and you and your family really have no protection from this violence. In fact, making matters worse, those that should be protecting you from violence were actually a very big part of the problem.  I don’t know about you, but this is a world that I wouldn’t want to live in.  A world that I wish I could say didn’t exist… but the reality is, it does.  For millions of people around the world, this is not something they need to ‘imagine’, because this is their ‘reality’!

Let me introduce you to the book The Locust Effect

The Locust Effect is a challenging read for the fact that it discusses ‘life’ in a way that many, including myself, can’t even begin to imagine. However, with that being said, it is a book that everyone should read, as its focus – global violence against the poor – is a very real part of our world.  The poor that live in developing countries, like all other human beings, deserve the right to feel safe… they deserve the right to be protected from violence in all forms.

The authors, Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros, share their insights as to the reason why there are 2.5 billion people in this world that, according to a report from the United Nations, “do not live under the shelter of the law, but far from the law’s protection“.  Haugen and Boutros share that the reason this is happening is due to the lack of a working public justice system.  Without a working justice system, there are no deterrents; there is no protection against things like sexual assault, human trafficking, abusive police, theft, property grabbing and illegal imprisonment.  Humanitarian efforts to assist developing countries in areas such as providing food, shelter and clean water, supplying an education along with medical aid, as well as other efforts are important to note, but none of this assistance has helped with what the real problem is, and that is violence.

Sexual violence in the developing world is an epidemic.  The cruel reality is that it not only affects those in developing countries, but it is one of the most common forms of violence facing the poor.  As hard as it is to acknowledge, we live in a world where rape and sexual molestation is big business.  It’s a business where, for those that are traffickers, there is a lot of money to be made at the expense of women and children, most commonly girls, but boys are affected as well.  According to Haugen and Boutros, “There are between 4.2 million and 11.6 million people held in forced commercial sexual exploitation – people who are compelled by force and coercion to endure sexual acts that customers pay for“.

And yet we see more horrendous acts of violence against the poor, through forced labour.  Forced labour, yet another form of human trafficking, is completely driven by greed and money.  Labourers are controlled through threats, and more often extreme violence, at the hands of traffickers and sometimes even those that are supposed to be protecting people in society… such as law enforcement.  As I read The Locust Effect and learned about how a failed justice system doesn’t help the poor in developing countries, it certainly became very clear that the flipside to that is that the failing justice system benefits those with money that are involved in what would be considered, to you and I, illegal activities.  If the justice system was ‘working’ and requiring accountability, we would start to see the consequences providing deterrents with then a hopeful decline in these atrocities… or better yet, the ability to stop them all together.  But sadly, this is not the way that things are in the developing countries.  With that being said, and this is important, in order to bring about change we must start somewhere and this is why I believe that Haugen and Boutros are sharing this information that we all need to hear.  This information that is shared in The Locust Effect needs to reach government levels as well as be understood by those of us that make up every day society.  We all need to be aware of what we can do to create change.  This is how it starts.

We can look at another area where the justice system fails miserably for those that live among the global poor… illegal imprisonment.  As an example, imagine walking to work one day and being stopped by the police, arrested (without cause), and then detained as part of ‘pre-trial detention’.  The poor are at serious risk of being arrested under false accusations and then being held without cause for months or even years in detention centres while awaiting a hearing.  If you or I were arrested today, and there were no grounds or just cause, we would be released in a matter of hours… but this is just not the case in developing countries.  “In any given year there are about 10 million people held in pre-trial detention in the world’s prisons and jails.  In many of the poorest countries, over three quarters of the prisoners are in pre-trial detention.”  The detention centres are a place of disease, filth and violence. Haugen shares:

My IJM colleagues and I have been in many pre-trial detention facilities where detainees were so overcrowded that they had nowhere to lay down, had to sit in each other’s laps ‘egg-carton’ style, and had to take turns sleeping to allow some to lay down.  In many circumstances, the food and water you get depends on what your family or friends can deliver and what your fellow detainees will allow you to keep or share.

Rather than law enforcement and the justice system actually helping to end violence by providing a solution, the hard truth is that they are actually adding to the problem… and this is “precisely what the poor have been trying to tell the world about law enforcement in their communities:  It is making things worse.

Given that there are at least 2.5 billion very poor people in the world, any condition that affects ‘most poor people’ affects a lot of people. And if the condition affecting most of those 2.5 billion people is that they are outside the protection of law, then a lot of people are in big trouble… and a depth of trouble that the rest of us can scarcely imagine.  To put it simply: They are not safe.  They are – by the hundreds of millions – threatened every day with being enslaved, imprisoned, beaten, raped and robbed.

We can no longer close our eyes to the problem and pretend that these things are not happening, because they are!

What can YOU do to help?

1. Raising Awareness – As with any kind of an outreach efforts, awareness is the key.  The more others are aware of the issues, the more understanding there is and this leads to change.  So, in essence, you can encourage others to learn about the issues by buying/reading The Locust Effect and visiting the website.  During launch week (February 3rd – 8th), a generous friend of International Justice Mission will donate $20 for every copy of The Locust Effect sold, up to $40,000 or 2,000 copies. This would fund 8 rescue operations and rescue hundreds!

2. Spread the word – As part of any awareness program, we need to spread the word.  Tell your family, your friends, share on social media sites… tell everyone!  The global conversation about violence needs your voice.

3. Tell world leaders – Ask the world’s leaders to make this issue of global violence a priority. You can start by signing the petition to the UN.

4. Donate – If you should so chose, you can contribute to help stop violence by donating to IJM’s life changing work.

I think it is also important to note that all author royalties from the sales of The Locust Effect will be going directly toward the fight against violence… so buy your copy today!

On a final note, have you ever wondered whether or not a video can change lives?  In this case, for the billions of people that live in extreme poverty?  Take three short minutes out of your day and watch this amazing video, titled, ‘EVERYDAY’… it’s certainly going to be the start of making a difference!

How would I rate The Locust Effect?  That’s simple… clearly FIVE STARS from me!

Become a part of the global conversation about poverty… it’s time!

To learn more about the International Justice Mission and their incredible work, please visit their official website or follow them on Twitter.

Disclosure: We received one or more product(s) at no charge in an exchange for a review.  However, receipt of the product is solely for the purpose of the review and does not influence our opinions.  All thoughts, opinions and beliefs are those of the author and are not influenced by receipt of the product.