Who they are:
§ Undocumented children
§ Migrant, refugee and asylum-seeking children
§ Children of sex workers
§ Children who have one or both parents who abuse drugs
§ Children living with HIV and AIDS
§ Children living on the streets
§ Children in conflict with the law
§ Trafficked children
§ Children living with disabilities
§ Indigenous children
Why they become invisible:
§ Going uncounted in statistics and being neglected or overlooked by communities and the State
§ The urban-rural divide and geographical remoteness
§ The lack or loss of formal identification
§ Family breakdown (separation, divorce, imprisonment of one or both parents)
§ Exploitation of children through trafficking and forced labour
§ Premature entry of children into adult roles such as marriage
§ Cultural norms and societal attitudes that fuel stigma and discrimination against gender, migrants, non-citizens, drug abuse, sex workers and HIV and AIDS.
Invisibility increases vulnerability:
§ Invisible children miss out on education, healthcare and protection and have little opportunity to claim their rights and their future. In Malaysia, some 200,000* children of primary school-going age are not attending school.
§ One of the most pressing problems children face is drug abuse, which offers them an escape from the harsh daily reality of their lives. This, however, places them at the highest-risk of abuse, violence and exploitation—with sexual exploitation and drug use putting them at particular risk of HIV.
§ Young girls may also become invisible due to gender inequalities, and they stand a higher risk of HIV infection than boys.
§ Social attitudes to sex and sex education are often barriers that that impede access to information and the tools girls need to protect themselves from the virus. Girls are also more likely to be pressured into having sex and less likely to be able to control when, how and with whom they have sex. Once infected, HIV further exacerbates violations of their rights.
* SOURCE: Committee on the Rights of the Child Concluding Observations to Malaysia, 25 June 2007 (CRC/C/MYS/CO/1)