More than 600 children are currently detained in Australian immigration facilities (459 on the Australian mainland and 144 on Christmas Island) and 186 children are currently detained on Nauru. 413 days is the current average length of detention in Australia for adults and children.
These figures are provided by the non-profit organisation "We are better than this", that asks the Government to put an end to this form of institutional child abuse. They have authored the following "humanifesto":
"Australia does not tolerate individuals who are cruel to kids.
Australia is no longer blind to institutional child abuse. We shine light deep into the dark corners of even the most venerated and powerful institutions.
And yet, Australia locks up innocent, traumatised children without trial; indefinitely, and under a tightly woven cloak of secrecy.
Our Government has created detention centres—deterrence camps—on Christmas Island, Nauru and on our own soil. There, the treatment of children is so inhumane and the conditions so appalling that leading Australian psychiatrists and paediatricians have been moved to speak out in a voice unprecedented in their profession.
These camps contravene international human rights conventions to which Australia is signatory.
We are better than this.
This will end because it must end and we will help it end.
There are better ways."
The organisation, which comprises artists, politicians, child protection workers and other experts, has realized a song which can be purchased online to raise funds and support their cause.
The systematic institutionalization of children … is the one form of child abuse that we could eradicate in our lifetime (Georgette Mulheir)
There are currently more than 8 million children who live in institutions and so-called orphanages. 90% of them do have a family but live in an institution because of poverty, disability or ethnicity. It is now well known that institutionalization damages children's health, development and future life prospects. According to a study undertaken by the British NGO "Lumos", young adults raised in institutions are 10 times more likely to be involved in prostitution than their peers, 40 times more likely to have a criminal record and 500 times more likely to take their own lives. The situation is even worse for children with disabilities.
The process of de-institutionalization implies not only a closure of these institutions but also, and above all, community and family based solutions, being said that the child's needs are at the heart of the decision making process.
Georgette Mulheir, the CEO of Lumos, who was recently listed as one of the "30 Most Influential Social Workers Alive Today", delivered a poignant and persuasive speech as a TED talker. Her speech says it all.
End Child Slavery has authored a petition that is aimed to be hand delivered to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
According to this organisation, there are around 5.5 million of children who suffer slavery and 26% of them are under 18 years old. With this petition, End Child Slavery hopes to put child slavery on the UN Sustainable Development Goals agenda for the next 15 years.
You can sign the petition here.
For the first time, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child have come together to make a joint general recommendation/general comment. The two committees address the issues of harmful practices i.e female genital mutilation, child marriage and/or forced marriage, polygamy and crimes committed in the name of so-called honor (the document can be downloaded below).
Concerning child marriage, the Committees make the following recommendations:
(f) A minimum legal age of marriage for girls and boys is established, with or without parental consent, at 18 years. When exceptions to marriage at an earlier age are allowed in exceptional circumstances, the absolute minimum age is not below 16 years, grounds for obtaining permission are legitimate and strictly defined by law and marriage is permitted only by a court of law upon full, free and informed consent of the child or both children who appear in person before the court;
(g) A legal requirement of marriage registration is established and effective implementation is provided through awareness-raising, education and existence of adequate infrastructure to make registration accessible to all persons within their jurisdiction.
(h) A system of national compulsory, accessible and free birth registration of all children is established, in order to effectively prevent harmful practices including child marriages; (...)
The Committees also stress the importance to effectively empower girls and women through compulsory primary education, educational and economic opportunities, awareness raising on their human rights and gender equality and age-appropriate information on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child sets out the rights that must be realized for children to develop their full potential, free from hunger and want, neglect and abuse. It reflects a new vision of the child. Children are neither the property of their parents nor are they helpless objects of charity. They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. The Convention offers a vision of the child as an individual and as a member of a family and community, with rights and responsibilities appropriate to his or her age and stage of development. By recognizing children's rights in this way, the Convention firmly sets the focus on the whole child.