Editorial, by Célia Roh, MIDE intern, 7 November 2018

2018 10 25 ED enfants conducteurs aveugles"I have to help my father beg for food. I would like to go to school like other children, but we are poor. I can't play or make friends, because I have to guide and be the eyes of my blind father".

These are the words of Khady, a 15 year old from Senegal. This example of a street child "taken hostage" by his blind parent affects many countries, such as Niger, Senegal and India, to name a few. A considerable number of children are forced to sacrifice their lives, putting an end to any promise of a professional future. At what price?

Take, for example, Niger, where disability is a major source of social and economic exclusion, forcing most people with disabilities to beg for their basic needs. Unfortunately, many children are involved in this life of begging, especially those guiding their blind parents, with precarious living conditions plus many other repercussions, such as the risk of accidents, disease, violence and exploitation. It also takes a lot of effort (not less than ten hours of work per day), which completely prevents them from going to school, thus hindering any future prospects.

This is why Sentinelles, one of the few humanitarian organizations active in this area, believes that the education of thousands of children around the world is being sacrificed because of their parents' blindness and poverty. Deprived of their childhood and without schooling, many of their rights are violated; even just with regard to articles 28 and 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which respectively address the right to education (28) and the right to rest and leisure (31).

To overcome such a violation of rights and to guarantee children a quality education and a decent life, the solution is the implementation, by States, of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), ratified by, among others, Niger, Senegal and India. CRPD article 28 outlines certain duties of States: to recognize the right to an adequate standard of living for people with disabilities and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, to recognize their right to social protection and take appropriate measures to protect and promote the exercise of these rights. Therefore, if States fulfilled their duties regarding the care of parents with disabilities, children would see increased chances of finding a place for their intellectual and social development and thus the chance of a better, more promising future.

A blind mother: "If anyone gives me something to put in the pot, I can free the child".

Picture: jambogyuri/pixabay, creative commons

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