It brings us to a paradox of bleaching – when you are making the choice all that appears appealing is the prospect of looking appealing. The diseases that come with consistency in bleaching, even when one is told about it, is so remote as to sound non-existent. Finding out too late only means you gave the bleach-product company your money in return for the disease. Even if you had used the money to just chill, would it not have been truly beneficial?
The Case for Anti-child-bleaching Law
With that background it should be obvious why we should not bleach the skin of children, yet adults do it with the thought that it makes their children fairer hence more appealing to others. Appealing or not the unavoidable ultimate is the disease inflicted on these children in a matter they had no control over or in a decision they had no part in. That is the first of several equally-compelling reasons that strengthen Ti-Kelenkelen’s urgent call for a law to protect children from bleaching or skin toning by parents or guardians.
Another reason is the sociological factor. In African social systems, a child belongs not to the individuals who produced the sperm and ovule to make the body of the living child or the parents or guardians taking care of the child. A child belongs to the clan and hence to the community. If a child belongs to the community, then the child belongs ultimately to the state, and the state owes it a duty to the child to protect it from dangerous acts by parents or guardians. (Please note that such protection does not include preventing the child from being appropriately punished for doing a bad or terrible wrong). Hence the state’s duty to protect the child also arises from the fact that the act under discussion, bleaching, has nothing to do with the welfare or progress of the child; it would rather eventually afflict the child with disease(s).
Further, the very fact that the ephemeral craving to bleaching could ultimately bring one terminal disease(s) one has to battle for the rest of one’s life makes bleaching immoral; it could inflict suffering in old age. The health hazards of bleaching brings and the fact that the child has no say in the act make it un-mitigatably incumbent on the state to intervene to protect these children.
Also, by such protection the state will forestall the potential of that child growing up into an adult sick with the prevented diseases. Consequently, the state saves future generations (i) the ordeal of having to deal with needless health problems and (ii) the expenses – on individual and household budgets – that would have come with dealing with those problems. The state will also, prospectively, save badly-needed money. If we do not stop child bleach today, we will, in say five to ten years later, have to deal with the health problems that come with it. The result will be the accrual of substantial but preventable component of the healthcare bill for the state. For a state with limited finances like Ghana, any amount of money saved here could be turned to productive sectors, even within the broader health component of the budget.
When President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo took office in January 2017 Ghanaians were told the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is indebted to service and hospital logistics and equipment suppliers to the tune of GHC1.2 billion. The last time Ti-Kelenkelen heard, national administration has, by this year, paid off GHC1 billion. Hopefully, when the rest is cleared the NHIS will come on stream again to help the majority of Ghanaians the way J. A. Kufuor intended when he established the scheme. The point is this: We can save the NHIS fund from prospected but needless expenses if we make this law and make sure it works effectively.
Eventually, a child has inalienable rights that include the right to be protected from harmful effects of actions by adults; the clan, community and state owes every child that responsibility. And the state can take the lead in performing that responsibility by making that law and enforcing it.
We can end this with two of numerous Anansesem, indigenous African stories told by our Elders and which have multiple philosophical, including moral, significance. One, certain parent, man or woman, had a child, and anytime the child did something bad in the community, the parent will defend the child rather than punish him or her. So the child grew up bad and notorious. Then one day, this notorious adult committed a crime, was arrested and put before a court. The evidence was compelling, so this child could not avoid jail term. After the judge passed the sentence, the child said he or she wanted to say something into the ears of the parent. When the parent brought his or her ear close to the convict’s mouth, the latter bit off the parent’s ear. The convict then told the court that if the parent had punished rather than defended him or her when he or she was a bad child, he or she would not have cultivated the bad behaviour that brought him or her to this end.
Admittedly, in this story, the behaviour of the child is responsible for the bad end. For our purpose here, however, let us focus on the fact that it is the bad decision of the parent that eventually allowed the calamity to befall the child. The parent exercised irresponsible oversight. In a state there are several levels of responsibility that ends with the state. If parents or guardians, in the name of making children look physically appealing, could eventually inflict on them invidious, persisting diseases, then the clan, the church, community and state cannot be mere bystanders and audiences. They must do what must be done to protect these children. Otherwise, as the Father of the Nation of Islam, Minister Louis Farrakhan ever said, these children will in future curse us.
The second Anansesem is about Anomaa, the song bird; Ahoma, the creeping plant, and; Akyekere, the tortoise. A huge tree was their abode. Akyekyere lived on the ground around the roots of the tree. Ahoma was rooted in the ground, but had climbed the tree to the branches at the top, and Anomaa lived in the foliage at the top. At odd hours Anomaa will sing and sing and sing. So Akyekyere told Ahoma to tell Anomaa to stop doing that, since it could bring trouble for all of them. Ahoma said Anomaa is free to sing, so it is not his or her business to tell it to stop. Then one day, Obomofo, the hunter, came drawn closer by the song. Obomofo took aim, shot and Anomaa came down. Anomaa did not find anywhere to fall but close to Akyekyere. Obomofo then cut Ahoma, used it to tie up Anomaa and Akyekyere and took all three away.
M’ano asi! (Akan)
“Finding out too late only means you gave the bleach-product company your money in return for the disease.”
“Please note that such protection does not include preventing the child from being appropriately punished for doing a bad or terrible wrong.”
“…The state can take the lead in performing that responsibility by making that law and enforcing it.”