Red Hand Day is observed annually on February 12 as a call-to-action event to bring an end to child soldiers, also known as ‘International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.’ Pleas are made to the government and political leaders, events are staged to end the use of children as soldiers and bring them home. The Red Hand Campaign is an international-level movement in which children and adults paint their hands red and call upon political leaders to end the use of children as soldiers.
History of Red Hand Day
Children have been used as soldiers in war throughout history. World Wars I and II are the biggest events with a recorded history of millions of children fighting as soldiers. Children above 12 have been regularly used in wars against enemies and on frontiers to the armies ready for battle. Based on different cultures, where children were forced to enlist themselves as soldiers, there have been cultures where it was considered a great honor for the person.
In general, it is believed that enlisting in the army is a great service, so children should be used as soldiers. Recently, international bodies have been created like Amnesty International, UNICEF, Child Soldiers International, etc. The use of children as soldiers has been heavily criticized, and serious efforts have been made to end it.
Despite the efforts that have been made, according to the numbers from the Red Hand Organization, 250,000 soldiers and perhaps even more children are still fighting as soldiers. There are more than 50 countries that use children as soldiers. A point to be noticed is, that it is not just the enlisting of children as soldiers that is alarming; it is the abuse children get as child soldiers. Reports reveal they have been victims of rape and child sexual abuse, H.I.V. and AIDS are highly prevalent, and returning child soldiers become criminals or mostly die of drug abuse.
So, to create a platform and international forum where this inhuman practice can be criticized and efforts could be made to end this practice, Red Hand Day was introduced on February 12, 2002.
Red Hand Day timeline
OPAC, an international treaty is signed by most countries in the world to ensure anyone under the age of 18 does not take part in hostilities.
The first Red Hand Day is observed on February 12.
The two countries heavily reliant on using children as soldiers brings an end to their use of children as soldiers.
As per U.N’s data, there are 100,000 actively enlisted child soldiers in the world.
Red Hand Day FAQs
What country has the highest number of child soldiers?
Congo, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen and currently using the highest number of child soldiers.
How can I make my support count?
Red Hand Day organization is always encouraging maximum participation. In 2021 more than 450,000 red hands were raised. Your hand will solidify our resolve and will encourage more participation from your circle. Besides, your support can drive the movement in your area to bring an end to child abuse of this kind.
Who was Michel Chikwanine, and what is his story?
He and his friends were kidnapped outside their school in the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.). They were “recruited” to be rebel soldiers. Chikwanine was made to do unthinkable things, which included killing his best friend, Kevin.
How to Observe Red Hand Day
Take Red Hand Day to social media
Make the hashtag #redhandday trend on social media so that maximum outreach is achieved. Start an online conversation.
Bring it to the streets
After making it a trend on social media, it is time to bring it out to the streets. Arrange rallies against the use of children and encourage child participation.
Paint your hand red
Paint your hand red and stage your opposition to child soldiers and join the cause to support the children’s well-being. Spread the word and encourage others to join!
5 Important Facts About Red Hand Day
458,912 hands collected
In 2021, more than 450,000 people raised their hands against the use of child soldiers.
Red hand means hands covered in blood; this became the perfect symbol for the movement.
14 nations still actively using children
14 countries in the world still use child soldiers despite the efforts made by Red Hand Day.
Looters, spies, and prostitutes
Children are not just used for military purposes; often, they are trained to be spies, looters, and prostitutes.
These scars are not just physical; the children are psychologically wounded for a lifetime.
Why Red Hand Day is Important
No child deserves this
Think of your own child as a child soldier holding a gun in battle and being abused afterward. Now think of the children actually trapped in this; what comes to your mind? Does any child deserve this?
It needs to end
Child soldiers are an extreme situation. The world has seen enough blood for its entirety. It is already soaked with the blood of millions. How much more before it finally ends?
Your participation matters
The effort and support of every individual can make a difference in the lives of children across the globe. Your voice against this inhumanity can prevent this from happening further. Raise your hand-painted red to show your support.
Red Hand Day dates