|© UNICEF/ HQ01-0330/ Pirozzi|
|Each cut-out represents a signature supporting reconciliation and rights for indigenous Australians. ‘The World Conference against Racism’. Durban, South Africa.|
The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all children are entitled to the same rights, regardless of the child’s, or their parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.
However, discrimination is a daily reality for millions of the world’s children. When children are discriminated against they can be denied access to essential care and services. They can be excluded from school or unable to get essential medical treatment. Discrimination can also result in violence or exploitation. Many of the children exploited in the worst forms of child labour, for example, come from minority or excluded groups.
There are numerous forms of discrimination. The most common include:
Gender: Gender-based infanticide, abortion, malnutrition and neglect are believed to be behind 60 to 100 million women ‘missing’ from the world’s population. 90 per cent of child domestic workers are girls between 12 and 17 years old.
Disability: There are between 120 and 150 million disabled children and young people in the world. It is estimated that less than two per cent of these children attend school. Although there is a pressing need for further research on pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections among adolescents with disabilities, what does exist is cause for concern. For example, in the United States, the rate of HIV/AIDS within the deaf community is twice that of the general population. Disabled children make up an estimated 20 per cent of all children in institutions in Central and Eastern Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States.
Ethnicity and race: In 1997 in Bulgaria, 16 per cent of population of the minority Roma had not completed basic education, compared to three per cent of the overall population. In Romania, the proportions were 42 per cent and 12 per cent.
Caste: An estimated 250 million people suffer discrimination because they were born into a marginalized caste (a social class). In India, the majority of the 15 million bonded child workers are from the lowest castes.
HIV/ AIDS: In some institutions in Mumbai, India, destitute children are tested for HIV at the time of admission. If found positive, they are either segregated or transferred to a separate shelter programme despite adequate staffing levels and availability of space in the childcare centre
Birth status: In Japan, children born out of wedlock are only entitled by law to inherit half of what children born in wedlock receive.