The Human Rights Challenge For Latin American Children

In Latin America, children’s human rights are not firmly established which allows for violations to occur. There are several instances of children’s human rights violations throughout the region. First, Reuters reports that thousands of children and women are victims of human trafficking throughout Latin America. Additionally, Bolivia is home to Latin America’s most frequent occurrences of sexual assault, with one of out every three girls having experienced sexual abuse before age 18, according to News Deeply. (Above, a picture can be seen displaying a strike in protest of a lack of recognition for girls’ and women’s rights). Finally, in Paraguay, the nation is suffering from the issue of forced child pregnancies. The situation is exacerbated due to the country’s tendency of not formally sentencing those accused of rape. In each of these examples, children are unlikely to report their tribulations to any authoritative figure on their own. As a result, this may lead to the unintended acceptance of crimes and the permanent trauma associated with their aftermath.

Laws and policies have been very slow to respond to the ongoing abuses, mistreatments, and violations of children’s human rights in Latin America. This is primarily attributed to a lack of investment in resources which can prevent these abuses or violations from occurring. Moreover, the prominence of the Catholic church throughout most of Latin America cannot be discounted as an opposing force to progress in some changes – particularly in the cases of abortion, forced child pregnancies, and sexual assaults. Though there are several policies which need to be changed immediately regarding children’s rights in Latin America, the recognition of these injustices are beginning to be acknowledged. Human Rights Watch reports that Honduras has recently ended its legalization of children marriages, the first nation within Latin America to have done so.   Stimulatingly, the elimination of child marriages is addressed as a Sustainable Development Goal by the UN to be met in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (as Goal 5.3). As planned, many nations have agreed to this goal including nations in Latin America.

To mitigate and eventually reverse this trend, a shift towards improving accessibility and representation of children’s human rights must occur. Laws that are already enforced ought to be applied to any person guilty of abuse, assault, or violence, especially with children involved. In addition, changes in policies must not adversely – or indirectly – impact children’s living conditions in Latin America, such as insufficient access to health care, as reported by Reliefweb. Third, any action considered in Latin American nations must be applied to all children, for both indigenous and non-indigenous populations. These rights are necessary and required to establish a foundation where boys and girls can flourish in all environments. With increased human rights, children can live without stress or worries about matters irrelevant to their future opportunities. Similarly, parents of children and their relatives can also become less fearful over matters concerning their children’s access to health and wellness. Given that there has been some progress in Honduras and a framework in place for future Sustainable Development Goals, children, their parents, and extended family can only look forward to a future with less inequality in their daily lives and more recognition to their human rights.

Christopher Pratts is a contributor for Politicsay. Christopher graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in Global Technology and Development and Interdisciplinary Studies. Christopher’s work focuses on human development, immigration rights, international development, and LGBT rights in Africa and Latin America.

Christopher Pratts