Control, Protection and Rights

A Critical Review of Peru’s Begging Bill

In: The International Journal of Children's Rights

In this article, I critically examine Peru’s Law to Protect Minors from situations of Begging. I consider the way in which a language of children’s rights is ironically invoked to justify the physical removal and criminalization of children working in public spaces by appeals to very specific understandings of childhood, parenting, and space. Despite the law’s formal emphasis on protection, I suggest it is more concerned with social control and containment than children’s actual well-being. As such, it fails to reflect the basic principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Peru has committed. However, because the crc is subject to multiple interpretations, it also serves as a potential resource to counter repressive legislation such as the Begging Bill. The article is based on 14 months of field work in Peru and over 100 interviews with policy makers, government officials, educators, and street children themselves, among others.

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  • 6

    Formed in 1977long before the ratification of the crcmanthoc (the Movement of Children and Adolescent Workers Children of Christian Laborers) argues for children’s right to work in conditions of dignity and now actively protests children’s exploitation and exclusion from political decision-making as guaranteed by the crc. In 1996 manthoc joined with other children and adolescent rights groups to form a larger child workers’ movement (mnnatsop). mnnatsop directly challenges state claims that it is fulfilling children’s rights and instead urges the state to be more accountable to working children.

  • 8

    As recently as May 2012Congress debated and then rejected a proposal to lower the age to 16 at which youth could be tried as adults (Coronel 2012).

  • 10

    Starting in 1996the Fujimori government’s Family Planning Programme relied on the forced sterilisation of women in poor urban and rural areas (Ewig 2006). Successful sterilisations were considered part of poverty reduction (Boesten 2010). Between 1996 and 2000 roughly 300000 women were sterilised the grand majority without their knowledge or consent. In 2011 the Peruvian government reopened an investigation into such abuses (LatinAmerica Press 2013).

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