"No country for old kids": street childrens human rights in Guatemala : master thesis

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Pouille, Lisa
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Recurrent violence against street children is spread across Guatemala, in the name of “cleaning up the streets”. The purposes of the thesis are the following: in addition to conceptualizing the street children and “social cleansing” phenomenon from a grass-root perspective; the economic, social and political issues faced by street children in Guatemala are scrutinized. The case study of street children in Guatemala serves as an example for connecting stigmatization and violence. In addition, this thesis draws attention on the existing international, regional and national Human Rights Law framework protecting the Rights of the Child, including street children. While they usually come in the streets because of family breakdown, street children often join gangs to find a protective environment. They get labeled as “criminals” or a “burden” to society. “Social cleansing” campaigns are driven against gang members. Street children become then targets of this “method”, or “collateral damages” due to labeling. The main perpetrators of these operations are death squads, private individuals, and the police. Recently, noticeable changes improved the Guatemala existing set of Human right legislations with the adoption of the 2003 Law. However, in the meantime, this legislation has not been implemented in practice. Therefore, five years have passed without any change in the society through State’s involvement. The lack of implementation can only be connected to a weakness of political will. Violence is well-established within the society, as well as street children’s stigmatization. A preventive approach established by relief organisations is certainly needed to prevent the State from locking street children out of society.
Second semester University: University of Southern Denmark, Copenhagen.
child abuse, Guatemala, children rights, human rights, street children, violence, violence against children