While the hand-wringing continues over the melt down in the financial markets, and some CEOs and Chairmen in some countries are agonising over how many millions of dollars they are going to be paid for bringing their companies into near bankruptcy or disrepute I have been struck, in comparison, by the increasing incidences of, but lack of serious publicity given to, some of our more devastating social ills.
A bizarre connection? Well, a little random perhaps, but not entirely off the wall.
In the last month I have been in China, South Korea, Singapore, Spain, UK (very briefly) and Vietnam; From Javea to Hanoi, Seoul to Shanghai, and so on (Okay; so much for retirement!). Six countries in different stages of development, but more about that, perhaps, in my next notes.
For the purposes of this blog, the country I want to focus on is Vietnam because it was as a result of a newspaper article in Hanoi that started me off on this research, involving the treatment of children.
We are all familiar with stories that emerge, too frequently, of yet another tragic schoolyard killing in America. Stories that receive prominence in the global media, involving losses of young lives in a society that should know better. But the pictures are beamed around the world, the killer analysed to the "n"th degree - and the media wagon moves on to the next "newsworthy" item. Meanwhile, back in Lai Chau Province in Vietnam yet another child has been snatched from its home at knife point or when the parents have been away in the fields working - and it rarely makes the local news, yet alone the national.
Kidnapping of children in Asia, it seems, is a growing problem, and Lai Chau Province in Vietnam, which shares its border with China, is in the front line. International criminal rings receive "orders" for boys or girls - usually aged between one and four years old to meet the demand from China and other countries.
A review on Google, for example, additionally reveals that the problem is widespread; everywhere from Africa through Europe - but save the recent one-off publicity when the French medical workers were accused of trying to kidnap 103 children from Chad - there appears to be little on the subject that is deemed worthy of comment by the international media.
So, what is it that needs to be done to highlight and then do something about this dreadful human trafficking? The problem has no Sir Bob Geldof to highlight the issue. And is it going to take a busload of infants to be abandoned and then to die in appalling conditions before the international media becomes aware that there is a problem out there, in the middle of our society?