Child Protection

The issue

What we do

What we achieve


The issue

Child protection
© UNICEF Madagascar/2009

A signatory of the Convention on the Rights of Children, Madagascar has shown a commitment to respecting child rights. The legal system includes legislation on adoption, marriage, people trafficking, sex tourism and birth registration. Yet despite the existence of these laws, public knowledge and understanding is lacking; their enforcement is often weak; and reform is needed to improve their integration with international and regional conventions on child rights.

For a large number of Malagasy children, life is defined by work, and nearly a third of children aged between five and 14 are involved in economic activities. The problem is more acute in rural areas where children work with their families in agriculture and fishing. With Madagascar’s ongoing political crisis there have been concerns that child labour is increasing as households affected by growing unemployment are forced to seek alternative sources of revenue. In many instances this results in children being sent to work before or after school, or removed from school altogether.

For girls, threats to their well-­being are even more acute, and the commercial sexual exploitation of girls is a serious problem: a significant number of female sex workers are children. Those who solicit them include foreign tourists and workers, as well as Malagasy men. In mining areas and tourist hotspots, where girls are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation, any increase in child labour is a major concern.

girl selling fruit
© UNICEF Madagascar/2009/Pirozzi
Out of school and working - in Madagascar's capital Antananarivo this girl helps her mother sell to fruit and nuts

Madagascar’s poor system of birth registration leaves unregistered children especially vulnerable to child protection violations: 25 percent of Malagasy children are not registered at birth, making them more likely to be excluded from basic social services and more vulnerable to abuse.

For many parents living in remote and isolated areas, birth registration is often not considered necessary, and is not understood to be a child’s fundamental right. Yet in Madagascar, children without birth certificates will face many difficulties. They cannot officially sit school exams, and if they come into conflict with the law, procedures are often delayed because their exact age cannot be ascertained. Once an adult, the lack of birth registration will affect a person’s right to vote and to participate as a regular citizen.

Since the onset of Madagascar’s political crisis in early 2009, social protection mechanisms have been weakened and the risk of children and women being exposed to violence and exploitation has increased as they try to meet their survival needs. Unrest and violent demonstrations in urban areas during the crisis severely affected the protective environment for children. Many young people witnessed or participated in violent acts, including looting and extortion at roadblocks.





The Convention on the Rights of the Child

The CRC is a major milestone in the historic effort to achieve a world fit for children. As a binding treaty of international law, it lays down the priniciples that member states agree to be universal - for all children, in all countries and cultures, at all times and without exception.

Read more about one of the most profound documents of our time.

The big picture

To read more about issues addressed by UNICEF's global child protection strategy click here

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