Poverty’s Chains: Eroding Children’s Fundamental Rights
Poverty’s Multifaceted Grip: Beyond Economics to Dignity and Fundamental Rights
In general, poverty is defined as a state of existence in which a person does not have the necessities of life. A poor person ‘lacks what he or she needs,’ and a poor child is a child who lacks the necessities for survival.’
From an economic perspective, poverty can be defined in two ways: absolute poverty (income is insufficient to support an individual’s physical needs) and relative poverty (an individual’s income is lower than that of other members of the community). It is important to note that the economic definition of poverty is invariably linked to monetary wealth. However, it cannot be defined simply in material terms; it must also consider a person’s ability to use the resources he or she has ‘.
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Beyond the economic dimension, poverty affects other fundamental rights. A person’s dignity and self-esteem are also affected, and poverty prevents the exercise of individual freedoms; it is a threat to the security of one’s existence (lack of income and access to housing, health care, and justice) and undermines overall personal development (intellectual, cultural, family, and social).
As far as children are concerned, the definition of poverty should not be limited to a consideration of insufficient financial resources. Children suffering from poverty are also deprived of their fundamental rights and prospects.
Poverty’s Devastating Legacy: The Dire Impact on Children’s Rights and Futures
Poverty prevents a child from surviving and hinders all aspects of his or her development, whether physical, mental, emotional, cultural, social, familial, or spiritual. The impact of poverty is so great that it could undoubtedly be considered the main cause of the violation of children’s rights.
Poor children are often already born into an environment of poverty. ‘Poverty breeds poverty and creates a vicious cycle”. A child lives in poverty because his or her family and/or country suffers from it. Historically, all nations have had to face the problem of misery and poverty at one time or another. Today, extreme poverty affects more than one billion human beings around the world.
Poverty is on the decrease, but efforts to combat it are still insufficient. However, this is not an unrealistic dream. Solutions exist; what is missing is real political will from part of the world.
The consequences of child poverty are devastating. Today, poverty kills a child every three seconds. Poverty deprives children of the fundamental right to life. It also deprives them of the opportunity to have an education and prevents them from having access to health care, clean water, food, shelter, safety and security, information, etc. As a result, poverty is a real threat to children and systematically infringes on the Rights of the Child as defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The fight to overcome poverty would go a long way if the commitments made by States to implement fundamental rights, as set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, were respected. Therefore, to respect children’s rights, extreme poverty must be eradicated worldwide.
- Sen, A. (1999). Development as Freedom.
- Sachs, J. (2005). The End of Poverty.
- Ehrenreich, B. (2001). Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
- United Nations. (annual). Human Development Report.
- United Nations. (1989). Convention on the Rights of the Child.