A Beginner’s Guide to The Locust Effect

I’ve been waiting for this day for WEEKS, and finally I can tell all! I am honored to be part of a group of writers who get to introduce you this week to The Locust Effect. “What?” you say. Sound interesting? Here’s a beginner’s guide… so you can be completely in the loop.

What is The Locust Effect?

1546096_194950527380441_509728716_n The Locust Effect is Gary Haugen (president of International Justice Mission) and Victor Boutros’ new book.

It is being released this week, and is available from sellers including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. (I wrote a review on Amazon: you can read it here).

The book aims to raise awareness and start a conversation of critical importance in our efforts to address world poverty and advance human rights in the 21st century.

What is the book about?

The Locust Effect, through story telling, field work and compelling research, is about the hard truth that every-day violence against the world’s poor is a critical issue which we have yet to address in our humanitarian efforts, and the single biggest factor which could affect our efforts in the future.

Why is it called The Locust Effect?

A plague of locusts can lay waste to anything and everything in its wake. The Locust Effect makes the compelling case that violence (common, everyday person-on-person violence) is laying waste to anything and everything for the poor in the developing world.

locusts

Seeking refuge from a plague of locusts

Our efforts to feed the poor, educate the illiterate, uplift and empower girls and women, combat cultural prejudices, stimulate bruised economies, provide shelter for the homeless cannot and will not succeed unless we change the conversation and start to consider how deeply violence affects the very people we hope to help.

All that violence sounds awful. What can possibly be done?

The one thing that can (and will) make a big difference for the billions of people who live in daily fear of being abducted, raped, enslaved, trafficked, beaten, robbed or tortured… is having functioning public criminal justice systems.

If rapists fear getting caught and imprisoned, they are less likely to rape. If a thug knows the police will follow up on a complaint that he has stolen a widow’s property and left her homeless, he will more likely leave her alone. If it became less profitable or dangerous for slave-owners to steal people, or for traffickers to kidnap girls and force them into prostitution – those crimes would reduce.

The poor cannot buy protection. They cannot flee a “bad neighborhood”. They cannot pay for legal representation if they are illegally detained. What the poor desperately need is public system which protects them and doesn’t allow evil doers to prey on them with impunity.

I know we can pay for a girls’ school fees or buy seeds for a starving community to plant. But can anything be done about systemic injustice on the other side of the world? It seems too hard and too hopeless.

It is hard. And the problems are complex. But by constructively collaborating with like-minded people in the developing world, change CAN happen. In 2013 alone, 3,400+ children, women & men were relieved from oppression through the work of IJM + IJM-trained field partners.

More than that, history tells us that VERY broken, very corrupt criminal justice systems in the past have been radically turned around: London, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Paris were all documented cess-pits of criminal activity a century ago. People lived in constant fear. But motivated people started talking and planning – and today they are some of the safest cities in the known world.

It can be done, and it MUST be done.

That sounds like noble and important work, but what can I possibly do? What do you want from me?

I want you to be AWARE, and I want you to SHARE this information.

I want you to know that when the World Bank surveyed thousands of the worlds most impoverished people and asked them what they most needed and wanted, more than education, more than opportunity, more than food or shelter, their overwhelming reply was that they wanted to live in safety.

If we care about education for girls – we need to know that the #1 reason girls in the developing world don’t continue with education is a fear that they will be raped or abused at school. We can’t talk about education unless we also talk about the impact violence has.

If we care about economic development – we need to know that the World Bank studies have identified violence and corruption as the single biggest factor that, if even slightly reduced, could hugely increase the GDP of developing nations. We can’t talk about economic development unless we also talk about the impact violence has on it.

If we care about trafficking and slavery – we need to know that it is not enough to provide rescue and rehabilitation for women and girls who are sex slaves: such things will continue until the traffickers themselves are brought to justice and can’t get away with it. We can’t talk about the end of slavery unless we talk about developing working criminal justice systems.

If we care about the vulnerable, we need to talk about the violence.
If we care about justice, we need to talk about public justice systems.

So: here are three things you can do right now:

1. Learn more – buy the book. (A generous donor has also offered to donate $20 to IJM for every copy of the book sold between February 3-8, so not only will your purchase donate all author royalties to fighting injustice, but a whopping $20 will be added!)

2. Share this post. Spread the word.

3. Go to the Locust Effect website, and share it with just one person that you think needs to know about it.

I will be hosting a BOOK GIVEAWAY of the Locust Effect this week.

Check out tomorrow’s post for details on how to WIN A FREE COPY!

Photo credit: AP Photo/Mori Chen

7 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to The Locust Effect

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