The denial of child rights

In 2014, a woman purchased a $15 dress from the large British fashion chain, Primark, while shopping in Swansea, Wales. The dress contained a label reading “forced to work exhausting hours,” which was written with the washing instructions for the dress.

Another woman purchased a pair of trousers from the same chain in Belfast and discovered another handwritten note from China. These instances are some of many where thorough investigations uncovered the source of clothes came from hazardous workplaces where young children were being employed under terrible conditions.

The low-cost clothes come at a terribly high price for young children forced to work in the sweatshops which allow people in high-income countries to enjoy the privilege of low-cost clothing.

Primark has conducted over 10,000 factory audits since 2009, and the undercover investigation revealed children as young as 10 years old were found to be working in conditions that violated their human rights.

In 2013, Rana Plaza – a five-story garment factory in Bangladesh – collapsed and killed 1,134 people. Many of those were children. Approximately 2,500 injured people were rescued from the building alive. The garment factory was infamous for making cheap clothes using child labour, as well as beating staff, ignoring fire safety rules and threatening members of trade unions with murder.

These tragedies demonstrate the importance of transparency along the fashion supply-chain and how crucial it is for both suppliers and buyers, like us, to make a stand against child labour for good.

The impact of child protection

At World Vision, we strongly believe we have the power to protect children from all forms of violence, through a holistic programming approach that encompasses their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights.

Protecting, respecting and fulfilling children’s rights is made possible when we can educate families, government institutions and organisations and provide the right support to overcome these challenges.

By providing education and resources to communities in need, we have the power to impact the environment in which vulnerable children live, and give them back their childhood.

In Bangladesh, it’s usual for girls to be married early. Even some as young as 10 are forced to wed. For these little girls, marriage means getting cut off from your family or no longer having an opportunity to go to school.

Girls like Bithi, as young as 15 years old, work behind sewing machines as they spend their days sewing pants which will be sold to shops in high-income countries like Australia, Canada and the US. Every day, Bithi and her child colleagues help sew a minimum of 480 pairs of designer jeans which they themselves would never be able to afford.

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Bithi is one of the thousands of Bangladeshi children who work inside a garment factory in poor conditions, and are having their child rights denied. With no bright future in sight, it was Bithi’s mother – whose husband was bedridden – who was juggling to raise her six children on her own and couldn’t make ends meet. She did what her parents did to her – sent her oldest daughter to work in the garment factory at the young age of 12.

Bithi’s mother also had a man in mind for an arranged marriage, a very common practice in Bangladesh that robs children of their childhood.

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World Vision’s Child Protection Programs, such as the Bangladesh World Vision Street Children Project, provides girls and families like Bithi’s with an opportunity to learn about the dangers of early marriage and child labour.

When Ruma, 16, was told that her father had an arranged marriage planned for her, she took action. After a life skills class led by World Vision’s Child Protection Program, Ruma learned about the dangers that come with early marriage and how she can respond to some of the challenges she would face in her life.

She spoke with her mother and educated her about the dangers and consequences of early marriage and, with her mother behind her every step of the way, she was able to avoid that fate.

“By the power of this knowledge, I have saved myself from early marriage.”

Ruma, Bangladesh

Children's Rights in Australia

The violation of children’s rights is not just an issue in poor, developing nations. Even high-income countries like Australia, Canada and the United States of America fail to meet the human rights of all children. While less prevalent, many children in developed countries still experience poverty, abuse or loss of liberty.

Despite economic growth, three million people still live in poverty in Australia. Over 731,000 of those are children, which means that one in six children are currently living in poverty. In the United States of America, over 12% of children live in poverty, and in Canada, it’s over 14%.

These may seem like surprising statistics for developed countries, but unfortunately this can occur when there is a lack of support from a government level for all citizens to assist in providing adequate standards of living. Without this support, citizens experience a denial of fundamental human rights.

The Australian Government has even been found to have violated the rights of children. The Convention on the Rights of the Child states that “any detention only be done as a last resort and for the shortest possible time,” yet thousands of children have been detained as part of youth justice policies at a state level, or by the Federal Government through immigration detention.

The recent Royal Commission into Children in Detention in the Northern Territory found that youth justice policies and practices around the use of restraints and isolation may have contravened several UN conventions and covenants on human rights or the rights of the child. And the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) found in 2004 that child asylum seekers being held in immigration centres did not have their rights protected, yet there are still more than 140 children currently detained in Australia’s offshore detention network.

Protecting human rights is a responsibility of governments and individuals. And World Vision calls for the Australian Government to live embody that responsibility in its actions at home and its advocacy abroad.

Protecting child rights

Protecting children from all forms of violence is central to World Vision’s work. All children deserve to experience life in all its fullness, and we strive to give the most vulnerable children a proper childhood. Only when children feel safe in their homes and communities are they able to flourish and realise their potential.

Christine's story

When Christine was 11, her father had plans for her to marry. But she had dreams of a different future. She loved to learn and wanted to pursue an education.

Christine’s family of 10 lived near a World Vision program in West Pokot, Kenya. Among World Vision’s priorities was the eradication of child marriage and female genital mutilation, which affected many young girls in the area.

Christine decided to run away to avoid marriage, and when World Vision discovered her desperate situation, we worked with local leaders to give her the help she needed. With sponsorship support, Christine continued her education at Morpus Primary School where World Vision had established a rescue centre for girls escaping child marriage.

Christine thrived in this environment, passing her Kenya Certificate of Primary Education. She then attended St. Elizabeth Secondary School as a member of the inaugural class.

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She has since graduated from St. Elizabeth and, with the help of World Vision, has completed a mentorship program designed to prepare students for university life so she can continue her studies.

“We learned so much in this program,” Christine said. “I will transfer all of these skills to college… I consider myself as a life skills educator and will teach my friends the life skills that I have learned so that they make good decisions,” she said.

Christine now attends Eldoret Technical College and is pursuing a certificate course in nursing. She has a bright future ahead of her, a future full of promise, and she hopes one day that she can help the sick and poor in her own community in Kenya.

She is forever grateful for the help of World Vision and our supporters. If it wasn’t for supporters like you, Christine may not have had her child rights upheld in order for her to live a fulfilled life outside of child marriage. Our child protection programs help once vulnerable children become stronger.

Why World Vision’s child rights programs work

World Vision is a global leader in empowering families and their communities to protect children’s rights. Our unique community engagement model, developed over 60 years and innovated depending on the context of each community, enables us to address the complex root causes of problems that rob children of their childhood.

We engage all those who have a responsibility to protect children, starting with families and faith communities and extending to teachers, schools, local and traditional leaders, hospitals, police, government agencies, and law courts.

Our interventions work focuses on improving laws and accountability, increasing social services and associated social supports, catalysing behaviour and attitude change, and strengthening child resilience.

 

 

Our impact on child rights

  • In the last 5 years, World Vision has informed over 1,837,878 children and adults about the risks of exploitation, abuse, traffickers’ ploys and how to keep children from harm.
  • In Cambodia alone, we have provided more than 1,500 child survivors of sexual exploitation and abuse with shelter and recovery care to heal and return to family and community life.
  • In the last two years, 10,000 child workers in exploitative conditions have been trained in 95 community-based Worker Rights Centres.
  • Since 2010, World Vision has equipped and mobilised 30,669 local leaders, parents, teachers and police officers with the education needed to recognise, report and respond to crimes against children, fostering community-wide protection schemes and saving the lives of countless children.

Our programs

Partner with World Vision for children's rights

We believe that every child deserves a childhood free from violence – to grow and live life in all its fullness, surrounded by protective, caring families and communities. All children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Share our vision and together we can provide the most vulnerable children with a protective environment to thrive.

You have an opportunity now to help children escape abuse and face life without fear, discovering their true potential and ability to become agents of change for their communities.

Partner with us to create an environment where children can live without fear of trafficking, early marriage and exploitation. With your help, you’ll be a part of a team helping to transform the lives of thousands of children so they can unlock their full potential free from abuse and fear.

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When you sponsor a child through our child sponsorship program, you’re joining a community of generous Australians committed to bringing lasting change to children living in poverty. As a child sponsor, you will help us develop our projects by connecting with vulnerable families and improving the long-term well-being of children.

As a child sponsor, you’ll see the impact of your donation through timely updates on your child’s progress with specific and measurable outcomes. You’ll see how your support helps prepare and equip your sponsored child’s community to continue its own development activitie into the future.

Sponsoring a child is rewarding

Child Sponsorship is the most effective and rewarding way to give children better rights, and better futures.

Or, if you’re not looking for a one-on-one connection with your child and their community, you can donate to our Child Rescue program. Every day, Child Rescue helps exploited children who are out of the reach of our child sponsorship programs.

These vulnerable children have fallen through the cracks of child sponsorship and require urgent support to protect them from their hazardous and dangerous environments.

With your help, we can protect children from human trafficking, slavery and child labour. We can bring them back into the community, support them and, ultimately, give them back their childhood.

Donate now