Convention on the Rights of the Child (Nov. 20, 1989) PART I (Illustrated by © Art For Humanity, "Women for Children")

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The Committee calls upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Convention and "to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories."

PART I

Article 1

  • For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.

Article 2

  • 1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her 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.
  • 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.

Article 3

  • 1. In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
  • 2. States Parties undertake to ensure the child such protection and care as is necessary for his or her well-being, taking into account the rights and duties of his or her parents, legal guardians, or other individuals legally responsible for him or her, and, to this end, shall take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures.
  • 3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall conform with the standards established by competent authorities, particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

Article 4

  • States Parties shall undertake all appropriate legislative, administrative, and other measures for the implementation of the rights recognized in the present Convention. With regard to economic, social and cultural rights, States Parties shall undertake such measures to the maximum extent of their available resources and, where needed, within the framework of international co-operation.

Article 5

  • States Parties shall respect the responsibilities, rights and duties of parents or, where applicable, the members of the extended family or community as provided for by local custom, legal guardians or other persons legally responsible for the child, to provide, in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child, appropriate direction and guidance in the exercise by the child of the rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 6

  • 1. States Parties recognize that every child has the inherent right to life.
  • 2. States Parties shall ensure to the maximum extent possible the survival and development of the child.

Article 7

  • 1. The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality and. as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents.
  • 2. States Parties shall ensure the implementation of these rights in accordance with their national law and their obligations under the relevant international instruments in this field, in particular where the child would otherwise be stateless.

Article 8

  • 1. States Parties undertake to respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognized by law without unlawful interference.
  • 2. Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States Parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.

Article 9

  • 1. States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary for the best interests of the child. Such determination may be necessary in a particular case such as one involving abuse or neglect of the child by the parents, or one where the parents are living separately and a decision must be made as to the child's place of residence.
  • 2. In any proceedings pursuant to paragraph 1 of the present article, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to participate in the proceedings and make their views known.
  • 3. States Parties shall respect the right of the child who is separated from one or both parents to maintain personal relations and direct contact with both parents on a regular basis, except if it is contrary to the child's best interests.
  • 4. Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death (including death arising from any cause while the person is in the custody of the State) of one or both parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent member(s) of the family unless the provision of the information would be detrimental to the well-being of the child. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall of itself entail no adverse consequences for the person(s) concerned.

Article 10

  • 1. In accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner. States Parties shall further ensure that the submission of such a request shall entail no adverse consequences for the applicants and for the members of their family.
  • 2. A child whose parents reside in different States shall have the right to maintain on a regular basis, save in exceptional circumstances personal relations and direct contacts with both parents. Towards that end and in accordance with the obligation of States Parties under article 9, paragraph 1, States Parties shall respect the right of the child and his or her parents to leave any country, including their own, and to enter their own country. The right to leave any country shall be subject only to such restrictions as are prescribed by law and which are necessary to protect the national security, public order (ordre public), public health or morals or the rights and freedoms of others and are consistent with the other rights recognized in the present Convention.

Article 11

  • 1. States Parties shall take measures to combat the illicit transfer and non-return of children abroad.
  • 2. To this end, States Parties shall promote the conclusion of bilateral or multilateral agreements or accession to existing agreements.
  • Article 12
  • 1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.
  • 2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.

Article 13

  • 1. The child shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of the child's choice.
  • 2. The exercise of this right may be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
  • (a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others; or
  • (b) For the protection of national security or of public order (ordre public), or of public health or morals.

Article 14

  • 1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  • 2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.
  • 3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

Article 15

  • 1. States Parties recognize the rights of the child to freedom of association and to freedom of peaceful assembly.
  • 2. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Article 16

       1. No child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

       2. The child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 17

States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.

To this end, States Parties shall:

  • (a) Encourage the mass media to disseminate information and material of social and cultural benefit to the child and in accordance with the spirit of article 29;
  • (b) Encourage international co-operation in the production, exchange and dissemination of such information and material from a diversity of cultural, national and international sources;
  • (c) Encourage the production and dissemination of children's books;
  • (d) Encourage the mass media to have particular regard to the linguistic needs of the child who belongs to a minority group or who is indigenous;
  • (e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being, bearing in mind the provisions of articles 13 and 18.

Article 18

  • 1. States Parties shall use their best efforts to ensure recognition of the principle that both parents have common responsibilities for the upbringing and development of the child. Parents or, as the case may be, legal guardians, have the primary responsibility for the upbringing and development of the child. The best interests of the child will be their basic concern.
  • 2. For the purpose of guaranteeing and promoting the rights set forth in the present Convention, States Parties shall render appropriate assistance to parents and legal guardians in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities and shall ensure the development of institutions, facilities and services for the care of children.
  • 3. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that children of working parents have the right to benefit from child-care services and facilities for which they are eligible.

Article 19

  • 1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.
  • 2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.

Article 20

  • 1. A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment, or in whose own best interests cannot be allowed to remain in that environment, shall be entitled to special protection and assistance provided by the State.
  • 2. States Parties shall in accordance with their national laws ensure alternative care for such a child.
  • 3. Such care could include, inter alia, foster placement, kafalah of Islamic law, adoption or if necessary placement in suitable institutions for the care of children. When considering solutions, due regard shall be paid to the desirability of continuity in a child's upbringing and to the child's ethnic, religious, cultural and linguistic background.

 

Article 21

States Parties that recognize and/or permit the system of adoption shall ensure that the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration and they shall:

  • (a) Ensure that the adoption of a child is authorized only by competent authorities who determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures and on the basis of all pertinent and reliable information, that the adoption is permissible in view of the child's status concerning parents, relatives and legal guardians and that, if required, the persons concerned have given their informed consent to the adoption on the basis of such counselling as may be necessary;
  • (b) Recognize that inter-country adoption may be considered as an alternative means of child's care, if the child cannot be placed in a foster or an adoptive family or cannot in any suitable manner be cared for in the child's country of origin;
  • (c) Ensure that the child concerned by inter-country adoption enjoys safeguards and standards equivalent to those existing in the case of national adoption;
  • (d) Take all appropriate measures to ensure that, in inter-country adoption, the placement does not result in improper financial gain for those involved in it;
  • (e) Promote, where appropriate, the objectives of the present article by concluding bilateral or multilateral arrangements or agreements, and endeavour, within this framework, to ensure that the placement of the child in another country is carried out by competent authorities or organs.

Article 22

  • 1. States Parties shall take appropriate measures to ensure that a child who is seeking refugee status or who is considered a refugee in accordance with applicable international or domestic law and procedures shall, whether unaccompanied or accompanied by his or her parents or by any other person, receive appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance in the enjoyment of applicable rights set forth in the present Convention and in other international human rights or humanitarian instruments to which the said States are Parties.
  • 2. For this purpose, States Parties shall provide, as they consider appropriate, co-operation in any efforts by the United Nations and other competent intergovernmental organizations or non-governmental organizations co-operating with the United Nations to protect and assist such a child and to trace the parents or other members of the family of any refugee child in order to obtain information necessary for reunification with his or her family. In cases where no parents or other members of the family can be found, the child shall be accorded the same protection as any other child permanently or temporarily deprived of his or her family environment for any reason , as set forth in the present Convention.

Article 23

  • 1. States Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life, in conditions which ensure dignity, promote self-reliance and facilitate the child's active participation in the community.
  • 2. States Parties recognize the right of the disabled child to special care and shall encourage and ensure the extension, subject to available resources, to the eligible child and those responsible for his or her care, of assistance for which application is made and which is appropriate to the child's condition and to the circumstances of the parents or others caring for the child.
  • 3. Recognizing the special needs of a disabled child, assistance extended in accordance with paragraph 2 of the present article shall be provided free of charge, whenever possible, taking into account the financial resources of the parents or others caring for the child, and shall be designed to ensure that the disabled child has effective access to and receives education, training, health care services, rehabilitation services, preparation for employment and recreation opportunities in a manner conducive to the child's achieving the fullest possible social integration and individual development, including his or her cultural and spiritual development
  • 4. States Parties shall promote, in the spirit of international cooperation, the exchange of appropriate information in the field of preventive health care and of medical, psychological and functional treatment of disabled children, including dissemination of and access to information concerning methods of rehabilitation, education and vocational services, with the aim of enabling States Parties to improve their capabilities and skills and to widen their experience in these areas. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 24

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. States Parties shall strive to ensure that no child is deprived of his or her right of access to such health care services.
  • 2. States Parties shall pursue full implementation of this right and, in particular, shall take appropriate measures:
  • (a) To diminish infant and child mortality;
  • (b) To ensure the provision of necessary medical assistance and health care to all children with emphasis on the development of primary health care;
  • (c) To combat disease and malnutrition, including within the framework of primary health care, through, inter alia, the application of readily available technology and through the provision of adequate nutritious foods and clean drinking-water, taking into consideration the dangers and risks of environmental pollution;
  • (d) To ensure appropriate pre-natal and post-natal health care for mothers;
  • (e) To ensure that all segments of society, in particular parents and children, are informed, have access to education and are supported in the use of basic knowledge of child health and nutrition, the advantages of breastfeeding, hygiene and environmental sanitation and the prevention of accidents;
  • (f) To develop preventive health care, guidance for parents and family planning education and services.
  • 3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.
  • 4. States Parties undertake to promote and encourage international co-operation with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the right recognized in the present article. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 25

  • States Parties recognize the right of a child who has been placed by the competent authorities for the purposes of care, protection or treatment of his or her physical or mental health, to a periodic review of the treatment provided to the child and all other circumstances relevant to his or her placement.

Article 26

  • 1. States Parties shall recognize for every child the right to benefit from social security, including social insurance, and shall take the necessary measures to achieve the full realization of this right in accordance with their national law.
  • 2. The benefits should, where appropriate, be granted, taking into account the resources and the circumstances of the child and persons having responsibility for the maintenance of the child, as well as any other consideration relevant to an application for benefits made by or on behalf of the child.

Article 27

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
  • 2. The parent(s) or others responsible for the child have the primary responsibility to secure, within their abilities and financial capacities, the conditions of living necessary for the child's development.
  • 3. States Parties, in accordance with national conditions and within their means, shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.
  • 4. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to secure the recovery of maintenance for the child from the parents or other persons having financial responsibility for the child, both within the State Party and from abroad. In particular, where the person having financial responsibility for the child lives in a State different from that of the child, States Parties shall promote the accession to international agreements or the conclusion of such agreements, as well as the making of other appropriate arrangements.

Article 28

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:
  • (a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all;
  • (b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary education, including general and vocational education, make them available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures such as the introduction of free education and offering financial assistance in case of need;
  • (c) Make higher education accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means;
  • (d) Make educational and vocational information and guidance available and accessible to all children;
  • (e) Take measures to encourage regular attendance at schools and the reduction of drop-out rates.
  • 2. States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child's human dignity and in conformity with the present Convention.
  • 3. States Parties shall promote and encourage international cooperation in matters relating to education, in particular with a view to contributing to the elimination of ignorance and illiteracy throughout the world and facilitating access to scientific and technical knowledge and modern teaching methods. In this regard, particular account shall be taken of the needs of developing countries.

Article 29

  • 1. States Parties agree that the education of the child shall be directed to:
  • (a) The development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential;
  • (b) The development of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and for the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations;
  • (c) The development of respect for the child's parents, his or her own cultural identity, language and values, for the national values of the country in which the child is living, the country from which he or she may originate, and for civilizations different from his or her own;
  • (d) The preparation of the child for responsible life in a free society, in the spirit of understanding, peace, tolerance, equality of sexes, and friendship among all peoples, ethnic, national and religious groups and persons of indigenous origin;
  • (e) The development of respect for the natural environment.
  • 2. No part of the present article or article 28 shall be construed so as to interfere with the liberty of individuals and bodies to establish and direct educational institutions, subject always to the observance of the principle set forth in paragraph 1 of the present article and to the requirements that the education given in such institutions shall conform to such minimum standards as may be laid down by the State.

Article 30

  • In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.

Article 31

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.
  • 2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

Article 32

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and from performing any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's education, or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development.
  • 2. States Parties shall take legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to ensure the implementation of the present article. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of other international instruments, States Parties shall in particular:
  • (a) Provide for a minimum age or minimum ages for admission to employment;
  • (b) Provide for appropriate regulation of the hours and conditions of employment;
  • (c) Provide for appropriate penalties or other sanctions to ensure the effective enforcement of the present article.

Article 33

  • States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances.

Article 34

  • States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. For these purposes, States Parties shall in particular take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent:
  • (a) The inducement or coercion of a child to engage in any unlawful sexual activity;
  • (b) The exploitative use of children in prostitution or other unlawful sexual practices;
  • (c) The exploitative use of children in pornographic performances and materials.

Article 35

  • States Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form.

Article 36

  • States Parties shall protect the child against all other forms of exploitation prejudicial to any aspects of the child's welfare.

Article 37

States Parties shall ensure that:

  • (a) No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Neither capital punishment nor life imprisonment without possibility of release shall be imposed for offences committed by persons below eighteen years of age;
  • (b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
  • (c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
  • (d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.

Article 38

  • 1. States Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for rules of international humanitarian law applicable to them in armed conflicts which are relevant to the child.
  • 2. States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of fifteen years do not take a direct part in hostilities.
  • 3. States Parties shall refrain from recruiting any person who has not attained the age of fifteen years into their armed forces. In recruiting among those persons who have attained the age of fifteen years but who have not attained the age of eighteen years, States Parties shall endeavour to give priority to those who are oldest.
  • 4. In accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population in armed conflicts, States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure protection and care of children who are affected by an armed conflict.

Article 39

  • States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of: any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse; torture or any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; or armed conflicts. Such recovery and reintegration shall take place in an environment which fosters the health, self-respect and dignity of the child.

Article 40

  • 1. States Parties recognize the right of every child alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law to be treated in a manner consistent with the promotion of the child's sense of dignity and worth, which reinforces the child's respect for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of others and which takes into account the child's age and the desirability of promoting the child's reintegration and the child's assuming a constructive role in society.
  • 2. To this end, and having regard to the relevant provisions of international instruments, States Parties shall, in particular, ensure that:
  • (a) No child shall be alleged as, be accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law by reason of acts or omissions that were not prohibited by national or international law at the time they were committed;
  • (b) Every child alleged as or accused of having infringed the penal law has at least the following guarantees:
  • (i) To be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law;
  • (ii) To be informed promptly and directly of the charges against him or her, and, if appropriate, through his or her parents or legal guardians, and to have legal or other appropriate assistance in the preparation and presentation of his or her defence;
  • (iii) To have the matter determined without delay by a competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body in a fair hearing according to law, in the presence of legal or other appropriate assistance and, unless it is considered not to be in the best interest of the child, in particular, taking into account his or her age or situation, his or her parents or legal guardians;
  • (iv) Not to be compelled to give testimony or to confess guilt; to examine or have examined adverse witnesses and to obtain the participation and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under conditions of equality;
  • (v) If considered to have infringed the penal law, to have this decision and any measures imposed in consequence thereof reviewed by a higher competent, independent and impartial authority or judicial body according to law;
  • (vi) To have the free assistance of an interpreter if the child cannot understand or speak the language used;
  • (vii) To have his or her privacy fully respected at all stages of the proceedings.
  • 3. States Parties shall seek to promote the establishment of laws, procedures, authorities and institutions specifically applicable to children alleged as, accused of, or recognized as having infringed the penal law, and, in particular:
  • (a) The establishment of a minimum age below which children shall be presumed not to have the capacity to infringe the penal law;
  • (b) Whenever appropriate and desirable, measures for dealing with such children without resorting to judicial proceedings, providing that human rights and legal safeguards are fully respected. 4. A variety of dispositions, such as care, guidance and supervision orders; counselling; probation; foster care; education and vocational training programmes and other alternatives to institutional care shall be available to ensure that children are dealt with in a manner appropriate to their well-being and proportionate both to their circumstances and the offence.

Article 41

Nothing in the present Convention shall affect any provisions which are more conducive to the realization of the rights of the child and which may be contained in:

  • (a) The law of a State party; or
  • (b) International law in force for that State.

"Living Children and Dead Children" by Lien Botha

 

"Living Children and Dead Children," poem by Karen Press

1.
When I think of living children I think of them walking
small and alone over wide hard ground
strewn with curling thorns the colour of scorpions
and leaves as strong as shoes, as strong as skin.
I think of them walking with straight backs
in the direction of hills far away,
and the low trees watching them in case they need help,
and the grasshoppers following them
to find out where they're going,
and an eagle circling that doesn't dare to swoop.
There is no magic garden there, and no giant to learn to trust.

I think of them as ones who never turn back or cry
because everyone is so far away
and the land is wide open even in darkness,
the stones stay warm as loaves of bread,
the night moths hover,
fly forward a little way,
hover and watch.
 
2.
Dead children are no-one's ancestors.
They sit alone, unsummoned,
and all their memories surround them.

No-one comes to fold the memories away,
wash their faces, sing them to sleep.
Their knowledge takes the form of hunger.
Around them their successor dead,
parents and grown siblings, nieces, nephews,
bustle about, preparing for ceremonies of power over the living.
 
The dead children, ancestors of death,
sit on the floor between the swirling hems of shadows,
lost.
 
Bana ba ba tshelang le bana ba ba tlhokafetseng  (Setswana translation: Lorato Trok)

1.
ba le bannye ba le nosi mo lefatsheng le le thata le le bulegileng
ba gasagantswe ka mebitlwa e e kgolaganeng mmala wa diphepheng
le matlhare a a kwenneng jaaka ditlhako, a kwenne jaaka letlalo.
ke akanya ka bona ba tsamaya ka mekwatla e e tlhamaletseng
ba lebile kgakala kwa dithabeng, ditlhare tse dikhutshwane di ba
lebile gore fa ba ka tlhoka thuso,  le bomantlopane ba ba setse morago
go bona gore ba ya kae le ntsu e ntse e ba dikologa e sa tshabe go ka tlhasela.
Ga gona tshingwana ya malea foo,le seng dimo go ka ithuta go tshepa.
Ke akanya ka bona jaaka ba ba senkeng ba nanoga le e seng go lela
gonne mongwe le mongwe o kgakala
le lefatshe le bulegile thata tota le mo lefifing,
matlapa a nna a le bothitho jaaka ditene tsa senkgwe,
motuotwane wa bosigo o sa sute,
o fokela kwa pele go se go nene,
o nna o sa sute o be o lebelela.

2.
Bana ba ba tlhokafetseng ga se badimo ba ga ope.
ba nna ka nosi, ba sa bidiwe ke ope
ba dikaganyeditswe ke dikgopolo tsa bona.

Ga go ope yo o tlang go phuthaphutha dikgopolo tsa bona,
a ba tlhapisa difatlhego, a ba opaopela.
kitso ya bona e lebega jaaka tlala.

Motlhatlhami wa bona o tlhokafetse,
batsadi le bana ba motho ba ba godileng, ditlogo,
ba phetesela, ba baakanyetsa mokete wa maatla a a ba ba tshelang
 
Bana ba ba tlhokafetseng, badimo ba loso,
ba nna fa fatshe magareng ga pitlagano ya meriti e e pheulegang
ba timetse

 

"My Birthday Wish" by Angela Buckland

 

"My Birthday Wish," poem by Kareemah El-Amin

He said he doesn't want to die, my hymen for his life
I've saved 100 lives since birth
Between my legs is his salvation
He speaks of love and understanding, piety and grace
With his penis in my face
Gifting me with the sacrament of his unholy communion
I turned nine today
Blow out the candles, and make a wish
"Father, please forgive my sins...
Let me join you before I turn ten"

 

Zwine Nda Tama Nga Duvha Langa La Mabebo (Tshivenda translation coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie)

O ri ha todi u fa, vhusidzana hanga ndo vhu vhulungela vhutshilo hawe
Ndo vhulunga matshilo a dana tshe nda bebwa
Vhukati ha milenzhe yanga ndi phuluso yawe
U amba nga ha lufuno na u pfesesa, vhudikumedzeli na tshilidzi
Na vhudzimu hawe khofheni hanga
A tshi mpha tshiga tsha tshilalelo tshivhi
Ndo fara minwaha ya tahe namusi
Ndi dzima makhandela nda bula itsho tshine nda tama
"Khotsi, nkhangwele zwivhi zwanga...
Kha ndi vhe na iwe ndi saathu u fara minwaha ya fumi"



Keletso ya Letsatsi la me la Matsalo (Setswana translation)
O rile ga a battle go swa, sesupa-bosetsana ba me ntlheng ya botshelo jwa gagwe
Ke bolokile matshelo a 100 fa e sale ke tsalwa
Mo gare ga dinao tsa me ke poloko ya gagwe
O bua ka lorato le tlhaloganyo, ineetseng tumelong le tshegofatso
Bonna ba gagwe mo sefatlhegong sa me.
A neela sakaramente ya selalelo sa gagwe se se tlhokang boitshepo
Ke na le dingwaga tse di robong gompieno
Butswela dikerese le go dira keletso
"Rara, ka kopo intshwarele dibe tsa me...
A ke go sale morago pele ke dira dingwaga tse lesome"



Takatso ya ka ya tsatsi la matswalo (Sesotho translation)
O itse ha a batle ho shwa, sesupa-borwetsana ba ka bakeng sa bophelo ba hae
Ke bolokile maphelo a 100 haesale ke tswetswe
Pakeng tsa maoto a ka ke pholoso ya hae
O bua ka lerato le kutlwisiso, boineelo tumelong le mohau
Botona ba hae bo le sefahlehong sa ka
A mpha sakramente ya selallo sa hae se sa halaleleng
Ke na le dilemo tse robong kajeno
Tima dikerese, le ho etsa takatso
"Ntate, ka kopo ntshwarele dibe tsa ka ...
Ntumelle ho tla ho wena pele ke eba le dilemo tse leshome"


Takat·o ya matswalo a ka (Sesotho sa Leboa translation)
O rile ga a nyake go hwa, haemene ya ka go bophelo bja gagwe
Ke pholo·it·e maphelo a 100 go tloga mola ke tswalwago
Gare ga maoto a ka ke pholo·o ya gagwe.
O bolela ka lerato le kwe·i·o, go ikokobet·a le kgaogelo
Le setho sa bonna bja gagwe sefahlegong sa ka
A mpha sakramente ya selalelo sa gagwe seo e sego se sekgethwa
Ke nale mengwaga e senyane lehono
Tima dikerese o bolele seo o sedumago
Tate ntshwarele dibe t·a ka hle...
A ke be le wena pele ke fihla mengwaga e lesome



Tifiso tami telusuku lwekutalwa (Siswati translation)
Utsite akafuni kufa, ngifunga gebuntfombi bami
Ngisindzisee timphilo letili-100 solo ngatalwa
Emkhatsini wetinyawo tami kunensindziso yakhe
Ukhuluma ngelutsandvo kanyenekuvisisa, kukholwa kanye nemusa
Ngendvuku yakhe ebusweni bami
Ngiphiwa ngemusa lokungakalungi
Ngihlanganisa iminyaka leyimfica namuhla
"Babe, ngicela ungitsetselele tono tami...
Angihlanganyele nawe ngingakabi nelishumi leminyaka''

 

Isifiso sami ngelanga lamabeletho (IsiNdebele translation)
Uthi akafuni ukuhlongakala, ngizilondoloza ngizilondolozela ipilo yakhe
Ngiphephise amaphilo ayikhulu kusukela ngibelethwa
Hlangana nemilemze yami kukusindiswa kwakhe
Ukhuluma ngethando begodu, nokuzwisisana ukurhawukela nomusa
Ngomthondo wakhe ebusweni bami
Angipha isipho sabelana ngenolwana.
Ngiba neminyaka elithoba namhlanjesi
Qima amakerese ube nesifiso
"Baba ngibawa uthethelele izono zami...
Ngibawa ukuhlanganyela nawe ngaphambi kobana ngibe neminyaka elisumi"



Ku navela kanga ka siku ro velekiwa (Xitsonga translation)
U te anga lavi ku fa, mbewu ya nga ya vununa ya vutomi byakwe
Ndzi ponise vutomi bya 100 ku suka eku velekiweni
Xikarhi ka milenge yanga i ku ponisiwa ka yena
U vulavula hi rirhandzu na ku twisisa,vukhongeri na musa
Hi vununa byakwe exikandzeni xa mina
A ndzi nyikela hi twela vusiwana xilalelo xa yena xo nyama
Ndzi fikisile nkaye namutlha
Tima makhandlela, u vika ku navela kaku
"Tatana,ndzi rivalele swidyoho swanga...
Wo ndzi ku joyina ndzi nga se fikisa khume"

 

 

"Ukunqamuka Kwe Mbeleko" by Nomusa Makhubu

 

"Look at Me," poem by Khona Dlamini

look at me
see me
do not let your eyes
turn away from the contours of my being
i am the child whose life
is ordered by numbers
who is mothered by the social system
fathered by the education system
 
look at me
not through me
 
let butterflies flow from your lips
to caress the catacombs in my heart
so that i
can
taste
LOVE
and know that
 
I AM/ MATTER
 
look at me
not through me


"Ntjhebe"

(Sesotho translation of poem extract by MP Letsie)
Qotso
dirurubele di phalle ho tswa dipounameng tsa hao
ho phaphatha mabitla a ka pelong ya ka
hore ke
kgone
ho latswa
LERATO
le ho tseba hore
KE MOPHEDI
ntjhebe
o se ke wa ntlodisa mahlo

 

 

"Where are the Cows?" by Beverley Samler

 

"Looking up," poem by Finuala Dowling

The moment before you died

You looked up,

The way all children look up: hopefully.

You were expecting us to come

But we didn't come.

You see --

The economy has been growing at 3.2% per year

Many of our shopping malls have parking for over 1000 cars

Things have been looking up

We've had a lot of new stuff to look after

Of course, when we read how you'd died,

You had three hundred thousand mothers;

You had four hundred thousand fathers.

Yet it's true that the moment before you died,

You looked up, and no one came.

 

Impucuko

(IsiXhosa translation)

Umzuzwana phambi kokuba usweleke

Wajonga phezulu

Ngendlela bonke abantwana abajonga ngayo: ngethemba.

Ubulindele okokuba sifike

Kodwa zange sifike.

Uyabona ke --

Uqoqosho lunyuke kakuhle ngonyaka

iivenkile zethu ezinkulu zineendawo zokupaka iimoto ezingaphezu kwewaka

Izinto ziye zaphucuka

Besinezinto ezininzi ezintsha esinokujonga kuzo


Kaloku, sakuba sifunde indlela obusweleke ngayo

Ubunentlaninge yoomama;

Ubunentlaninge yootata.

Nangona, uthe ngomzuzwana phambi kokuba usweleke


Wajonga phezulu,

Kodwa akwabikho

namnye ufikayo.

 

 

"Boy" by Este Macleod

 

"A Child Dreaming," poem by Zandra Bezuidenhout

I am a child of many dreams:
I'd love to be a soaring eagle
or a lofty yellowwood tree.

Wonders might happen
if I am treated with respect,
as children's rights are rooted
in a moral alphabet.

I pray that you will from today
respect my life in every way,
that I may grow and flourish fearlessly
until one day I do become
the person I was meant to be.

 

"Kind Wat Droom"

(Afrikaans Translation by Zandra Bezuidenhout)

Ek is ‘n kind.  Ek droom
ek word ‘n witkruisarend
of ‘n reuse geelhoutboom.

Wonders kan gebeur
as jul my lewe respekteer.
Ek vra dat jul my regte
op die hart sal dra.

Laat my in veiligheid
op hierdie aarde woon.
dat ek kan groei en blom
om sonder vrees
te word wat ek moet wees.
 

 

"This Is My Story" by Marjorie Maleka

 

"Mary Mother of No-One" by Lindiwe Nkutha

Yet again unfounded myths
re-write themselves on my body
faceless malevolent voices
proclaim me the virginal cleanser
of heartache and dis-ease
while taking turns to fill me to the brim with same

my shrills swathed in regal stoles of collective silence
lie behind consensual paralytic truths
that have never walked,
let alone flown
i watch with a throat full of swallowed words
while my consent is sacrificed on alters to inconsiderate gods
 
it crushes the bones in my heart
that no one ever hears the
two, sometimes three, mostly seven pleadings
that drip out of the sides of my mouth
onto my pillow now gone deaf
 
will somebody...
will somebody, anybody...
 
somebody,
anybody,
your body
stop this madness


 
"Ngingu Maria Uma Kamuntu"

(IsiZulu tranlsation)

Kwenzeka futhi, izinganekwane ezingena msusa
Zizibhala emzimbeni wami
Amaphimbo anomunyu kodwa angenabo ubuso
Angibiza ngocwebileyo
 
Ogeza izinhlungu zenhliziyo nezifo zonke
Ngaleso sikhathi agcwalisa ubunjalo bami ngalezo zinhlungu

Izikhalo zami zemboswe ngengubo yobukhosi engasho lutho
Yona egquma amaqiniso akhubazekile
Angakaze ahamba
futhi  angeke andize
Konke lokhu ngikubuka umphimbo wami ugcwele
Amagama engingakwazi ukuwagwinya
Kwenziwa izihlabelo egameni lami ngokuvuma kwami
Kwenzelwa onkulunkulu abengenandaba
 
ukhona mumbe...
ukhona mumbe, nanomawubani ...

mumbe,
nomawubani,
nawe qobolwakho
masibambisaneni siphelise lomkhuba.
 

 

"A Flower For Malika" by Judith Mason

 

"Girl Child" by Malika Ndlovu

Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Surviving even where the soil
Aches for rain
Will bear no grain or fruit
Where Aand youth
Is harvested with brutality
Where she more than her brother
Suffers the scorching of a dominant Sun
Forcing her into the shadows
Where she can be forgotten
Neglected
Underestimated
In more ways than one
Buried

Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Mis-led and mis-educated
Not only
By the twisted tales of tradition she is fed
But by those who continue
To teach these poisoned lessons
By their actions
Mothers, fathers, older brothers and sisters
Who show her
She is less
Unwanted
Or born to be burdened
Exploited
Violated

Girl child
Wild virgin flower
How do you recognise your Self
In these mists of projected fear
How do you hear you own voice
Discern when and how
You can make your own choices

Girl child
Wild virgin flower
Bear your dreams to the night sky
Under Moon's glow
You will come to know
The truth of your origin
The immeasurable power
Of your authentic nature
Uncover the wealth and wisdom
Of your scorned and silenced
Female ancestry
Guidance for your growth
With her innate resilience
Bearing miraculous fruit

 
"Mntwana Wentombazane"

(IsiZulu Translation Coordinated by Dr Maria Letsie)

Mntwana wentombazane,mbali yasehlane
Udukisiwe awufundiswanga kahle
Hhayi ngezinganekwane ezingeyizo oxoxelwe zona
Kodwa ngalabo abaqhubekayo
Befundisa lezizimfundiso ezingezizo ngezenzo zabo
Onina, oyise, abanewabo nodadewabo abameyayo
Ongafunwa noma ozelwe ukwethweswa umthwalo, exhashaziwe,ehlukunyeziwe

Mntwana wentombazane, mbali yasehlane
Qhakaza ngesibindi
Feza amaphupho akho esibhakabhakeni
Ngaphansi kokukhanya kwenyanga uyokwazi ukunotha nokuhlakanipha
Kwamathongo akho anga hlonishwanga nabulawa
Uyisusa somthombo, Amandla empilo abo bonke besifazane
Nokuqina kwakho kokuzalwa, uthela izithelo ezimangazayo
 

 

"Dancing with Angels" by Mavis Smallberg

she is singing new lullabies, jumping in new dreams
dancing with angels so her child becomes whole

under her feet is the debris of pain
beauty defaced, dead trampled dreams
all anchor her spirit
deprive her of hope

there's a rustling of angel wings swift in the air

she is dive-bombed by devils
they poison her head
ride on her back
shake up her heart

there's a sounding of spirit war stirring the air
and she is singing new lullabies, jumping in new dreams
 
dancing with angels so her child becomes whole

 
Dans met Engele

(Afrikaans translation of poem extract by Marí Peté)

Verstrengel in herinnering van smart,
beendere gebreek en klere geskeur,
haar oorblyfsels van liefde
sy skending van vertroue
maar engelvoete land sag in die lug

en in haar hart hoor sy hul sing -
sy begin te leer, haar gaan oop,
ontketen haar voete
bevry haar siel

sy begin nuwe slaapliedjies sing, nuwe drome droom
saam met engele dans om haar kind te genees
 



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