Looking at the title, your mind might directly wonder on the saddening phenomena we see on daily basis..be it in the intersections, under the bridge, or dusty corners in markets, or simply everywhere.
Street children have become one of the most daunting challenges that Indonesia faces. Not only the Government, which has the responsibility to ensure the promotion and protection of the children's rights, including street children, but also Indonesian society as a whole...
Well, Indonesia is not alone indeed...
Many countries have faced similar challenges...< br />
A world fit for children is still becoming everyone's dream..
Amidst many significant progress achieved by Indonesia in the area of children’s rights, issues surrounding street children, or street-connected children, continues to pose big challenges. In line with Indonesia’s commitment to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and national development priorities, as outlined in the National Medium-Term Development Plan and National Action Plans on Human Rights, issues relating to the state of these less fortunate children continue to be on top of the agenda.
Nonetheless, eventhough various interventions, governmental policies and strategies aimed at addressing this issue have been launched and implemented, the problems remain. One of the underlying problems is the incompatibility of the given interventions with the children’s needs. Limited engagement with the street-connected children themselves, their families and communities have resulted in ‘detached’ and segregated policies. In the absence of holistic and integrated policies, comprehensive information and consistent data regarding street-connected children, measures taken by the government in formulating appropriate strategies can be seriously impeded.
So...what do we have to do...
How can we contribute further...
I personally believe that effective participation and empowerment of families and communities, can effectively help addressing this pertinent issue in Indonesia...
Besides the government, we, as individuals or members of society, can participate and help improve this situation..
Let's take a look at the important reference we have here...
As stipulated in the Constitution and relevant laws in Indonesia , every child entitles to be protected regardless of its race, skin color, gender, language, religion, social status and wealth. Child protection commences from the very early stage of life starting from the womb.
Being a State Party to 8 (eight) core international human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as well as International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), Indonesia is obliged to ensure the full enjoyment of the rights of children.
Nevertheless, the issue of street children, - those who live, work and/or spend most of their time on the street, continues to be one of the greatest challenges faced by the Government of Indonesia. The misery of these rights-deprived children greatly vary, starting from stigmatization and misperception to culture of violence, including sexual violence.
Limited, or even zero, access to basic facilities and services such as education and health have further posed these children to multiple deprivations of their basic rights. Latest statistics show that there were approximately more than 230.000 street children in Indonesia in 2011. As the economic gap is deepening, the trend is alarming since the estimated numbers show steady increase.
Various governmental policies and strategies aimed at addressing this issue have been launched and implemented, but the problems remain. National programs derived from the human rights action plans and more specific interventions such as Street Children Social Welfare Program/Program Kesejahteraan Sosial Anak Jalanan, have been introduced and executed in the last decades, providing services such as drop-in centers (rumah singgah) mobile van for children. Child counseling and outreach programs as well as relevant online services have also been conducted.
Moreover, various measures and initiatives have been taken at regional level, such as within the framework of ASEAN. Along the same line, a number of multilateral venues have been utilized to discuss and produce universal guidance on the issue of street children, with Human Rights Council, Special Procedures Mandate Holders, and Committee on the Rights of the Child, among others, continuously urge states to take further actions concerning street-connected children.
However, in the case of Indonesia, the absence of comprehensive picture and statistics towards this phenomenon has, to some extent, hindered the government and relevant stakeholders in formulating and providing holistic, child-rights and gender-based approach. Classic problems such as human resources deficits and budget limitations have also been identifed. Some arguments also center on the inconsistency of the government’s policies, with the tendencies of altering the programmes once the officer-in-charge is changed. Lack of coordinations among national focal points, particularly relevant ministries, governmental agencies, and civil society organizations, also contribute to this predicament (Afandi, 2004; OHCHR, 2012).
Often, stigmatization and misperception, the most complex challenges faced by street children, are not properly addressed nor being the focus of the interventions. As the policies are mostly centered on the well-being of street children, families and communities, who are also one of the closest and most significant elements of the street children’s lives, are sometimes set aside, if not excluded. Only recently, the Indonesian Government, through Social Affairs as well as Women Empowerment and Child Protection Ministries, introduced Family Program.
Other developing countries also face similar problems. China, India, Bangladesh and Nepal, for instance, have been struggling with similar problems lingering from capital cities to urban areas despites numerous strategies being implemented (Benitez, 2011). On the other side of the world, Latin America countries such as Brazil, Peru and Guatemala (Cardoso and Souza, 2004; Karabanaouw, 2003), as well as those in Africa and Europe continue to step up their efforts in formulating strategies and policies which fully involve communities and families of street children in addressing the complexities of this issue.
So, against this backdrop, the question raised is to what extent the families and communities, including us, who are surrounding street-connected children have participated in the process of policy-making to effectively address the complexities of solving this issue.
More questions shall be posed regarding how far will the empowerment program of street-connected children families help improve the lives of these unfortunate children.
I sincerely believes that families and communities play pivotal roles in helping addressing the issue of street children.
Their active engagement with the government, policy makers, and related stakeholders will help ensuring family relisience and contribute significantly in the policy-making process and in finding solutions to the issues of street-connected children. Participatory approach is deemed mandatory in ensuring the best interests of street-connected children and their families are properly reflected in the interventions.
So, what do you think...