Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Int'l: Registering the World's Invisible Millions

This five-year-old girl from Bolivia is one of some 40 million children helped

FROM THE BBC - A birth certificate is a fact of life for many. Yet there are millions of babies born each year who are never registered, depriving them of vital education and health care and leaving them vulnerable to abuse. Plan International has gone some way to reverse this situation, as the BBC's Penny Spiller explains.

Togolese teenager Awawou had overcome the toughest of childhoods to build an education for herself. After years of hard work, and against all the odds, she was about to sit her school exams when she learned she was not eligible because she did not have a birth certificate.
Her parents had died when she was small and she had not been registered at birth. It took Awawou a year of running errands to earn the $10 (£6) she needed to buy the certificate and sit her exams. Now, aged 18, she hopes to become a dressmaker.

Awawou is one of half a billion children who are estimated to be without a birth certificate. It is thought that at least 51 million of the babies born each year are not registered.

Without registration, it is difficult, if not impossible, to gain access to vital services such as health care, education and welfare support, says child rights organisation Plan International.
It also denies them the possibility of voting or getting legal aid.

Children without any record of identification are more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse such as human trafficking and prostitution, being forced into under-age marriages or into becoming child soldiers, the organisation adds...


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