A week ago, a UN expert finished her 10-day trip here and released a statement condemning the rampant violence committed against children in Benin.
Last night, a woman in my village beat her son so hard and so long that he started bleeding, his eye was swollen shut and he was taken to the hospital.
There are laws in place that condemn this sort of behavior. There are also laws that define sexual harassment and rape. There are also laws that make corporal punishment illegal.
The problem is no one cares to enforce these laws. There are no truant officers if students don’t come to school. There are no advocates for girls who have been victims of aggression. There is no child protective services to take children away from parents who don’t understand what it means to be a parent.
Issues like what happened last night will be handled locally by a combination of traditional and state-sponsored authorities. (Who will have to take a break from charging taxis bribes to pass into the next district.) There will be no police records or booking or criminal charges involved.
I’m by no means saying the US prison system is without its flaws or even should be a model for other justice systems. What I’m saying is that it all means a bunch of nothing when no one is around to enforce it.
The woman is currently being held at the local police station. I’m not sure what will happen to her, but I hope that she’s never able to cause something like this to happen again.