Happy birthday to children’s rights?

How can we “celebrate” another year the anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child? Nine chilean teenage girls do it on stage on our behalf and denounce the violation of children rights in Chile … and all over the world.

“Lissette Villa was 11 years old when she died of suffocation because a 90-kg caregiver sat on her for minutes. Tania Águila died at age 14 when her boy friend crushed a stone on her head. Florencia Aguirre was 10 years old when her stepfather choked her with a bag, burned her and buried her in the woodshed of her house.”

These were some of the cases that prompted the La Re-Sentida Theater team to create Paisajes para no colorear (‘Non coloring landscapes’), a work in which a group of female adolescents tries to make visible the vulnerability to which they are exposed by being “women” under age in a male-dominated society.

Paisajes para no colorear © GAM – Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral i Compañía de Teatro La Re-Sentida

Paisajes para no colorear
© GAM – Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral i Compañía de Teatro La Re-Sentida

These girls force the spectators to listen to their experiences of daily violence in their school, in their homes, in their cities in Chile and South America. No one remains immune. When at the end of the play, the audience stands up and burst into applause, each of us  is also rethinking how they behave in their daily lives with children.

For years, we thought that UNICEF and all children NGOs were speaking for them. No one listened. Did anyone speak?

These girls – and all the girls – are changing the rules. They will speak for themselves and for all the girls. They will become – in their own words – ‘the stars of an unrivalled cultural revolution.’

And this revolution is already happening. Last October, Chilean children took the streets to protest the government’s announcement of an increase in the price of public transportation but also of all the other violation of human rights taking place in the country. At the same time petitioners – aged between 8 to 17 –  have filed a legal complaint against 5 countries, bringing the climate fight to court as it constitutes a violation of child rights.

And the others will follow. In Afghanistan where at least 546 boys from six schools have been abused by their teachers, in the US where 13 million children are living below poverty line, in Yemen where 2 million children are out of school.

Youth are no longer ready to wait “to be involved in the “governance” of  the settings of their everyday lives.”  They are standing for their rights.

Here and there and everywhere.

Happy birthday!


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