‘They’re adults lying about their age’

That’s what lots of commenters write on articles about Calais, including people who have commented on my posts here (I haven’t published those remarks). But here’s the thing:

No one said they would be toddlers. Calling them children is an accurate way to describe people who have not yet reached their 18th birthday. But 17 and 18-year-olds who have spent several months in a refugee camp look like adults. Trauma ages them. They might not have been able to shave recently. They might be on the very cusp of adulthood. But for now, they are children and it’s out duty to protect them. They will have spent a huge chunk of their childhood either living in a war zone or escaping it. Should they not now have a chance to rest and recover from that before starting adulthood? It takes a particular kind of callousness to insist they stay in a soon-to-be-demolished camp just because they can’t prove their credentials…

For those who ask harsh questions about where all the tiny children and girls are, I give you harsh answers. They didn’t make it. The girls have been sex-trafficked. The tiny children have died. The ones who are now arriving in the UK are strong looking because only the strongest have survived these harsh conditions. Seven-year-olds aren’t equipped to cross a continent and then fend for themselves in a makeshift tent. They die, they disappear…

More here.

And another thing: why exactly is it that some people are so unwilling to lend sympathy to young men? Can they not also suffer? This seems to be one pernicious effect of the way masculinity is constructed in our still patriarchal system: men are not vulnerable. Men should be able to fend for themselves. Men do not need protection.

2 thoughts on “‘They’re adults lying about their age’

  1. “And another thing: why exactly is it that some people are so unwilling to lend sympathy to young men? Can they not also suffer? ” This really gets me, especially now as the mother of an 11 year old boy. It’s horrifying to think he will reach a magic age when his suffering is no longer something we are supposed to care about.

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