A baby, a baby! Sang the world.
Oh the joy, newborn innocence. Hope. Bright beginnings. A sunrise and a beaming mother.
The future King George.
Around the world, thousands of infants will forever share a birthday with the future British monarch. Here we take a snapshot of some of those new lives.
Australia: With PM Kevin Rudd and AltPM Tony Abbott currently locked in a race to the bottom of Australian politics, much of the country may prefer a week old English child as our head of state. At least he would have an excuse for name calling, immature behaviour and eating his earwax.
In the Planet Earth birth lottery, George of Cambridge has pretty much drawn first prize, though an Australian male born in July 2013 will also fare well. He should, as long as he is white and at least middle class, have every opportunity to receive a decent education, have access to excellent health care and eventually find solid employment. His female counterpart could be as successful, however two stories this week show that she will still earn less than her male colleagues and is also far more likely to be a victim of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Palestine: One of the worst places to be born in July 2013. A Palestinian child is not even born into freedom, contradicting the ‘every man is born free’ mantra. A Palestinian child is born occupied. Young Amina or Hamza will grow up with little access to much needed health care, almost no chance of a decent education and once they reach the age of 12, the possibility of being arrested by the IDF. To June 30 this year, ‘193 Palestinian children were imprisoned and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system,’ and 99% of them had no legal access during their interrogation.
Bangladesh: On a par with Palestine for being one of the worst places to be born. In Bangladesh, 41% of children under 5 are underweight, ranking fourth in the world behind Timor Leste, India and Yemen. Meanwhile, the mothers who give birth to these underweight children are barely into adulthood themselves, with the mean age for first time mothers in Bangladesh, 18 years old. For many a girl child in Bangladesh, a life of anonymity beckons, whether it be a rural domestic life, a voiceless life of urban poverty or, if working, doing it inside a concrete factory producing $3 t-shirts for sale at K Mart.
Haiti: Three years after an earthquake that claimed as many lives as the Indian Ocean Tsunami, children in Haiti remain some of the most desperate in the world. Homelessness, kidnapping, exploitation, malnutrition, HIV / AIDS and being orphaned, compound the lives of many children that were already wretched before 2010. When a little baby Haitian comes into the world, there is every chance he or she will reach adulthood in a country that resembles, or is worse, than Haiti 2013.
America: In the US, the annual ‘Kids Count’ list has seen Mississippi finally climb from last position, to second bottom, with New Mexico now the worst state in America for children. For a child in New Mexico it is estimated 31% live in poverty, 79% of publicly schooled fourth graders cannot read to a sufficient level and 37% of parents lack secure employment. Furthermore, teen pregnancies are high and a high proportion of households are headed by an adult without a high school diploma.
Syria: Quite possibly the worst place for any human being – man, woman or child – to be right now, is Syria. With more than one fifth of Syrian schools destroyed, those children who remain are battling against time to salvage an education. On top of 100,000 dead and 2 million refugees, the UN is now talking of a ‘lost generation’ of Syrian children, as Assad turns his country into the Somalia of the Middle East.
DR Congo: Officially the worst place in the world for mothers, DR Congo is also arguably the worst place for children too. The second largest country in Africa is ranked second, behind Somalia, as the most common place for child – and their mother – to die on their birth day. Growing up, children in DRC face a childhood and possibly a lifetime of malnutrition, poverty, disease, poor education and employment opportunities, war, rape and possible enlistment as a child soldier.
Namibia: In Southern Africa, the nation of Namibia welcomes thousands of newborns every year, yet sadly mourns 45 out of every 1,000 who die before their first birthday. This year, the country is facing its worst drought in three decades and of those lucky children who survive their first birthday, 100,000 of them will then face malnutrition, as food and water shortages continue. President Hifkepunye Pohamba estimates at least $20 million is needed to provide relief to the most needy.
$20 million is roughly half of what Baby George of Cambridge is worth, after receiving ‘a ruby-encrusted 18 karat white gold Theo Fennell charm bracelet that doubles as a diaper-rash cream holder, an official pint-sized soccer jersey from the Village Chiefs with ‘HRH’ and the number 1 on the back and a Harrods’ teddy bear valued at $54.’
Furthermore, elated Brits are expected to spend close to $134 million on alcohol celebrating the arrival of the future monarch, $123 million on souvenirs and $117 million on related books, newspapers and DVDs.
Meanwhile, in Namibia, Haiti, Palestine…