Reflections on CRC Article 12

Every child has the right to express his or her opinion and to have that opinion listened to and taken into consideration when decisions are being made that affect him or her, or other children.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Your Voice Matters
UNICEFIndonesia/2016/Rodrigo Ordonez
29 October 2019

Silence has always meant different things to different people. Some crave noise because of the routine silence of their own lives. Others crave silence because there is too much noise around them. Still others hear presence even in the deadliest of silences, because certain kinds of pain reverberate and are amplified by the hush it carries.

But equally as pernicious as imposed silence is internalised silence, when children fear speaking out because they will be reprimanded, or when they don’t speak out because no one asks them to. No one asks them, for instance, whether they want to be married off at 12 years of age, or 14, to men they never met, with all the consequences that the decision entails. No one asks them what they want to know, about their bodies, their sexuality, the choices they have. No one asks them whether they want to remain at school, much less treating the question as their right. No one asks them if they like it at school, if they feel bullied or unsafe, if someone has hurt them. No one asks them how they feel and what they think about the choices made for them because there is always something else that matters more: adat (customs), old superstitions, social prestige, family pride.

“Only connect,” as E.M. Forster famously counsels. Yet few things are as hard as putting adolescents and adults in the same room and getting them to ‘connect.’ Real participation should allow adolescents to say what they want to say the way they want to say it. But they often don’t know how to feel and act adult with adults. Adults, too, are often at a loss before adolescents—what to ask, how.

Not that there aren’t ways. Nowadays, adolescent-driven programs where teens have a say in issues affecting their lives abound. The various tools employed—from ‘ecological models’ to ‘stepping stones,’ from ‘swap-stats’ to ‘gender sculptures’—have gone some way to bridge what was previously almost unbridgeable in communication between adolescents and adults.

Yet trust-building requires more than the right programs. There needs to be the gift of time and space, all the more to open up, and the freedom to raise your voice. There also needs to be trust in the process, from both sides. After all, trust is a two-way street: to give is to receive.


Meskipun refleksi-refleksi ini terinspirasi dari foto-foto yang menyertai, semua teks itu tidak menggambarkan kehidupan atau kisah siapa pun yang tergambar di dalamnya.


Convention on the rights of the child

Pada tahun 1989, pemerintah di seluruh dunia menjanjikan hak yang sama untuk semua anak dengan mengadopsi Konvensi PBB tentang Hak Anak (CRC).

Konvensi menjamin apa yang harus dilakukan oleh negara-negara agar semua anak tumbuh sesehat mungkin, bisa belajar di sekolah, dilindungi, didengarkan pandangannya, dan diperlakukan secara adil.

Untuk Indonesia, sebagai bagian dari memperingati 30 tahun CRC yang jatuh pada bulan November 2019, UNICEF meminta penulis Indonesia Laksmi Pamuntjak untuk membantu kami mewujudkan beberapa artikel CRC ini.

Dengan inspirasi yang didapat dari foto dan gambar yang tersedia di database kami, serta kolaborasi dengan para spesialis program kami, Laksmi menulis 15 teks fiksi pada beberapa artikel yang paling relevan untuk konteks Indonesia.

Meskipun refleksi-refleksi ini terinspirasi dari foto-foto yang menyertai, semua teks itu tidak menggambarkan kehidupan atau kisah siapa pun yang tergambar di dalamnya.