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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the notion of independent children, a concept that goes against the grain of prevailing constructions of childhood that underpin legal frameworks across the globe. Independent children find themselves in a specific unfavorable relationship to such legal frameworks, which fail to protect them—or even criminalize them. This chapter looks at the notion of independent children, especially children in street situations, child-headed households, and married children, from a child-rights perspective. A child-rights perspective takes into account root causes and power inequalities in societies and looks to evolving capacities of children and their agency. The chapter hones in on state obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child toward children in such situations and concludes that especially non-discrimination; social, economic, and cultural rights; and the right to be heard are crucial elements for a legal framework that supports independent children in shaping their lives and exercising their rights.

Keywords: children’s rights, Convention on the Rights of the Child, independent children, evolving capacities, agency, children in street situations, child-headed households, child marriage

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