Reflections on CRC Article 8

Every child has the right to an identity, name, nationality and family ties, and to assistance from the government if he or she loses any parts of his or her identity.

Laksmi Pamuntjak
Girls at home in Sulawesi
29 October 2019

I have a friend, and she just told me she didn’t exist.

I was born and bred in Tangerang, she said, my family has lived there all my life. We work hard, speak Indonesian, know no other home. Yet many of us don’t have an ID. I don’t exist, and yet I do—which is the worst part. If I get into trouble, where do I seek help? If I die, am I entitled to a death certificate, having no birth certificate to begin with? What rights do I have, what responsibilities?

You’re only half right, I told her. Because you exist. I’m looking at you now, you’re looking at me, and we are talking. I know you, you know me, we know things about each other. Tomorrow we will meet again and it will be another day of our existence—yours and mine.

It’s true that there are many things I don’t know. I don’t know, for a start, the difference between belonging to a particular nation or being a citizen of a particular country.  How do countries come into being? Do they just form overnight just because we have a common language or is it more a feeling—of belonging to a place or a memory?

I know I have still so much to learn about my country. I know by heart most of the patriotic songs I was taught at school and I was asked to hoist our flag at Independence Day two years in a row. I’m not a top student, but I do fairly well at school, especially in geography. Geography lessons keep reminding me how big my country is, and how amazing it is that we all speak the same language even if we don’t look the same. I sometimes see my parents’ eyes well up in front of the television when they watch an Indonesian doing well overseas. They tell me it makes them proud to be an Indonesian, and they know I will feel increasingly this way too in time.

You exist, my friend, because you are. And it should be there, for everyone to see, black on white. It is your right to have rights.


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


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.