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Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age

Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age

Jacqueline Bhabha
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age
    Book Description:

    Why, despite massive public concern, is child trafficking on the rise? Why are unaccompanied migrant children living on the streets and routinely threatened with deportation to their countries of origin? Why do so many young refugees of war-ravaged and failed states end up warehoused in camps, victimized by the sex trade, or enlisted as child soldiers? This book provides the first comprehensive account of the widespread but neglected global phenomenon of child migration, exploring the complex challenges facing children and adolescents who move to join their families, those who are moved to be exploited, and those who move simply to survive.

    Spanning several continents and drawing on the actual stories of young migrants, the book shows how difficult it is for children to reunite with parents who left them behind to seek work abroad. It looks at the often-insurmountable obstacles we place in the paths of adolescents fleeing war, exploitation, or destitution; the contradictory elements in our approach to international adoption; and the limited support we give to young people brutalized as child soldiers. Part history, part in-depth legal and political analysis, this powerful book challenges the prevailing wisdom that widespread protection failures are caused by our lack of awareness of the problems these children face, arguing instead that our societies have a deep-seated ambivalence to migrant children-one we need to address head-on.

    Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Ageoffers a road map for doing just that, and makes a compelling and courageous case for an international ethics of children's human rights.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5016-7
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    Every year, tens of thousands of children cross borders alone. Some travel to join families that have already migrated. Others leave home to flee war, civil unrest, natural disaster, or persecution. Some migrate in search of work, education, opportunity, adventure. Others travel separated from their families but not actually alone, in the company of traffickers or smugglers, risking exploitation and abuse. The majority, perhaps, travel for a combination of reasons, part of the growing trend toward mixed migration. And yet, the complexity of child migration is a largely untold and unanalyzed story. This book is an effort to correct that...

  5. PART I The Right to Respect for Family Life?: Moving Children for Family

    • CHAPTER 1 Looking for Home: The Elusive Right to Family Life
      (pp. 19-59)

      Family life is a given, a fact of daily existence that most of us take for granted as much as the arrival of dawn after night or the taste of everyday food. It shapes the pattern of our life, the nature of our emotions and our sense of self. However complex our identification with space or place, with a nation or people, family is a critical aspect of feeling at home in the world. This is why we consider it an essential part of our children’s upbringing. The basic human intuition that family life is crucial for the well-being of...

    • CHAPTER 2 Staying Home: The Elusive Benefits of Child Citizenship
      (pp. 60-95)

      On July 27, 2002, two contrasting immigration stories appeared in the US press. Both concerned families of US citizen children¹ and noncitizen mothers facing an identical dilemma: the choice between family separation and exile from their family home. One story reported on the British widow of a trader killed in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, and her two US-citizen children ages seven and four. A textbook case of “family migration,” the woman had left her country and moved because of her husband’s job. As a result, her US visa was dependent on that of her British husband....

    • CHAPTER 3 Family Ambivalence: The Contested Terrain of Intercountry Adoption
      (pp. 96-134)

      On April 3, 2009, Judge Esme Chombo of the Malawian Family Court rejected an application by pop superstar Madonna to adopt CJ, known as Mercy, a three-and-a-half-year-old Malawian child. The child had been placed in the orphanage shortly after her birth. Her mother, a fourteen-year-old girl who became pregnant while in secondary school, had died a few days after giving birth; her father was unknown. Mercy was initially cared for by her sixty-seven-year-old maternal grandmother, whose circumstances were described as follows by the Malawian Supreme Court: “She is very poor and depends on subsistence farming. . . . [T]he area...

  6. PART II Youthful Commodities:: Moving Children for Exploitation

    • CHAPTER 4 Targeting the Right Issue: Trafficked Children and the Human Rights Imperative
      (pp. 137-174)

      Trafficking is not one phenomenon but many. For the trafficked child, it is at times explicit, brutal, and sudden; at other times, invisible, incremental, and insidious. For the witness, it can manifest in blatant and gruesome incidents, or in social situations that are difficult to decipher, and whose full meaning emerges only later. I recall having had the latter experience.

      In the late 1990s, I attended a human rights meeting convened to address legal strategies for improving the circumstances of migrants and asylum seekers in Chicago. I have attended many such meetings over the years, but I remember that meeting...

    • CHAPTER 5 Under the Gun: Moving Children for War
      (pp. 175-200)

      On June 20, 2007, for the first time ever, former military leaders were convicted of the international crime of recruiting child soldiers. Alex Tamba Brima, Brima Bazzy Kamara, and Santigie Borbor Kanu, three senior figures in Sierra Leone’s brutal, eleven-year war, were found guilty by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone and sentenced to between forty-five and fifty years in prison.³ Moving children for exploitation in the course of war had become a judicially sanctioned international crime just as moving children for exploitation in the course of trafficking had become some years earlier. Eleven other defendants have since been...

  7. PART III Demanding a Future:: Child Migration for Survival

    • CHAPTER 6 David and Goliath: Children’s Unequal Battle for Refugee Protection
      (pp. 203-237)

      Edgar Chocoy made two international journeys in his short life. He chose the first himself at the age of fourteen—an overland solo migration from Guatemala, via Mexico, to California. His purpose was to find what the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child mandates for each child—“a family environment . . . an atmosphere of happiness, love and understanding.”² Edgar sought to leave behind the dangers and hardships of the street and gang life in Guatemala that he had been forced into after his mother abandoned him as an infant. Hoping to find her, Edgar made his...

    • CHAPTER 7 Demanding Rights and a Future: Adolescents on the Move for a Better Life
      (pp. 238-282)

      The first four months of 2011 will go down in history as “the Arab Spring,” a moment when the unmet aspirations of the next generation in several Middle Eastern countries hit global headlines. Alongside the inspiring images of young people taking to the streets to demand freedom in Tunis, Cairo, Benghazi, Tripoli, and Homs,² reports noted the region’s unique demographic gift (60 percent are under thirty) and simultaneous risk (25 percent of those under thirty-five are unemployed).³ Complementing both were disturbing news stories of children and adolescents⁴ squeezed with adults into precarious boats, fleeing violence, chaos, and unemployment at home...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 283-348)
  9. Index
    (pp. 349-374)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 375-375)