Reflections on CRC Article 34

The government should protect children from sexual exploitation (being taken advantage of) and sexual abuse, including by people forcing children to have sex for money, or making sexual pictures or films of them.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Dangerous nightlife
01 November 2019

People say my city is like any other city. But I beg to differ. Because I know it like no other.

Every night I walk the same street, selling newspapers for people who still read newspapers. I know where people go for alcohol, dope, the cheapest good food. I know exactly where and when in the evening my nose would catch the heavenly trail of simmering broth from my favorite food stall, the way the heat from the frying pans boil up the muggy air. I know all the women and children who, like me, work the street to earn money for their families. Money my family doesn’t always see, much less enjoy, because I’d be lucky to earn my cut of 1000 Rupiah a day.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many things, too, that I’d rather forget. The market’s public latrine with its stinky peanut-shaped hole in the floor. The brothel further up the street, with the strange noises you often hear coming from within its walls and its sad looking women. The way men of all shapes and sizes leer at me when I walk past them. I’ve been told by my sisters what those looks mean, and what it means when these men chat me up and offer me things. I’ve been told to be careful, and to protect myself.

Sure, I understand what my sisters are telling me and that they mean well. But often all I care about is how to sell more newspapers so that one day I can stop selling newspapers altogether. Besides, I’ve seen more on this street than meets the eye—people setting buildings afire, robbing warungs and shops, beating someone to a pulp—that often I’m happy enough just to be alive.

Sometimes I cry when something beautiful vanishes: the scent of a passerby, the sight of a dress I will never wear. It’s hard to be vigilant all the time when one has so little and everybody else has so much.

Though this reflection was inspired by the accompanying photograph, the fictional text does not describe the life or story of any person depicted within it.


Convention on the rights of the child

In 1989, governments across the world promised all children the same rights by adopting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Convention says what countries must do so that all children grow as healthy as possible, can learn at school, are protected, have their views listened to, and are treated fairly.

As part of Indonesia’s celebrations in November 2019, to mark the 30th anniversary of the CRC, UNICEF asked Indonesian author Laksmi Pamuntjak to help us envision some of these CRC articles. Inspired by photos and images from our database, and working with our programme specialists, Laksmi created 15 fictional texts on some of the most relevant articles for the Indonesian context.

Though these reflections were inspired by the accompanying photographs, the texts do not describe the life or story of any person depicted within them.