Orphaned Children around the world today, 153 million children worldwide are orphans. There are serious consequences for the rights and development of such children. An orphan is someone whose parents have died, are unknown, or have permanently abandoned them. In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents due to death is called an orphan.
One of the major causes of children being orphaned is the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
A child becomes an orphan when one parent dies from the virus. The child may or may not have also contracted the virus. About 4, 30,000 children became infected with the HIV virus. In most cases, the virus is transmitted from mother to child. This can be avoided when adequate health care is made available. However, poorer countries usually do not have access to medical treatment.
While the flood of AIDS infections continues unchecked, the number of AIDS orphans will also continue to rise.
Children can also lose a parent due to natural disasters, famine, and war. The latter factor also contributes to the displacement of children across borders.
Extreme poverty, illness, abuse and can also tear nuclear families apart and, in the end, lead to abandonment.
An orphaned child is alone in an adult world. Orphans experience serious violations of many of their rights:
Guaranteed Judicial Protections by the CRC
In the absence of a temporary or permanent family, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) advocates for States to provide assistance and special protection to orphans.
Article 20 of the CRC lists four options for the care of orphans:
However, many governments do not sufficiently fulfil the needs of orphans.
International adoption provides another alternative to maintain the proper balance of children in the world. The Hague Convention of 1993 proposed guidelines based on the protection of children and international cooperation, allowing an orphan to be legally placed with a family.
Many conditions must be met in order to protect the interests of the child. This transparent process helps to avoid the spread of child trafficking.
Still, it is difficult to rely on international adoption in many situations, especially when children have been separated from their family because of war or natural disasters. The primary objective in such cases is to find the child’s family, before considering international adoption.
If the HIV/AIDS epidemic could be contained, the number of orphans worldwide would diminish. Prevention and screening campaigns are needed to reach this goal, as well as guaranteed access to treatment. The 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, signed by many countries, recognizes that orphans need special assistance, including guaranteed non-discrimination against such children and access to health care, education, and shelter