Document 238141

Learning Objectives
Children’s Rights in the Context
of HIV and AIDS
Teen Club Community Partners Training
What is a Child in the Context of
Human Rights?
Both the Children’s Convention* and the African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child
define children as all human beings under the
age of 18
In Botswana, the definition of a child is unclear:
14, 16, 18, 19, or 21?
Concern raised by NGOs in the Complementary
Report on the Implementation of the Children’s
Convention in Botswana which was submitted to
the United Nations in March 2004.
The objectives of this module are to:
Define children’s rights (go tlhalosa gore
ditshwanelo tsa bana ke eng)
Discuss why children and youth need special
rights (go tlhalosa gore ke eng bana le banana
ba tlhoka ditshwanelo tse e leng tsa bone fela)
Define the particular rights that children and
youth have (go tlhalosa gore bana le banana
ba na le ditshwanelo dife)
Examine how these rights relate to HIV and
AIDS (go seka-seka gore ditshwanelo tse di
amana fa kae le HIV/AIDS)
What are Children’s Rights?
Children are a special, vulnerable section of the
population who need special care, attention and
Children have limited or sometimes no capacity to
stand up or speak up for their rights.
Children’s rights fall into three main categories:
1. Rights of protection (ditshwanelo tsa tshireletso)
2. Rights of provision (ditshwanelo tsa tlhokomelo)
3. Rights of participation (ditshwanelo tsa botsaa
*United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
Examples of Children’s Rights
Some of the rights that flow from participation, provision
and protection include:
An adequate standard of living, including adequate
food, shelter and clothing.
Freedom from discrimination based on age, gender,
race, tribe, language, religion or any other status,
including that of the child’s parents.
Access to healthcare.
Access to education.
Freedom from neglect and all types of physical,
mental, sexual, and economic abuse or exploitation.
Live in a family environment.
Express their opinion about plans or decisions
affecting their lives.
How do Children’s Rights Relate to
Children’s rights to health and life require access to
healthcare, education and other services that will
enable them to avoid HIV infection or access
treatment for HIV and AIDS related infection/illness.
Provision for the special diagnostic, care and
support needs of children living with HIV and AIDS.
Article 2 of Children’s Convention calls for nondiscrimination, including “other status” which
implies actual or suspected HIV status of the child
(or their parents).
Children’s Act of Botswana (1981)
Definitions of “child”, “juvenile” and “adult” are
unclear: a juvenile is defined as a person aged 14 to
18, whereas an adult is 21 years of age or older
(ages 19 and 20 are left out).
Does not address consent for medical treatment or
tests, including HIV tests.
Technically, children are not able to consent to
medical treatment or tests. Their parents or
guardians must give consent.
In practice, many facilities allow children aged 16 and
above to give consent for themselves based on
professional discretion.
There is a lack of infrastructure through which to
implement the provisions of the Children’s Act.
Currently under revision (Children’s Bill).
“The Best Interest of the Child”
Governing principle of all children’s rights,
regardless of the specific right involved in
any particular case.
Any decision affecting children should always
put the best interests of the child first, in
other words, serve the needs of the child and
act for, not against, the child.
Article 3 of the Children’s Convention: in all
actions concerning children, “the best
interests of the child” shall be the primary
Informed Consent
Families and children have a right to
expect that information about them will
be held in confidence.
The confidentiality rule forbids any
reference to or discussion about a client
without the consent of the client except
among professionals caring for the
HIV status is confidential information and
may be shared only to ensure the client
gets the best and most appropriate care.
Informed Assent for Children
This is the process by which a fully informed
person can participate in choices about his
or her health care.
It implies that an individual has the right to
direct what happens to him or her.
It is the duty of the care provider to provide
all the necessary information for consent.
It is about being transparent – telling the
person the benefits, risks, and uncertainties
of an action.
A guiding principle in HIV testing and
Requirements for Informed Consent –
Family Planning for Minors
Although children may not be legally
able to consent for themselves, their
wishes should, when possible, be
taken into consideration. This is
called obtaining assent from the
The Attorney General advises that the Botswana
Family Planning, General Policy Guidelines and
Service Standards be followed.
This policy states that “….teenagers are to be
provided with appropriate family planning
methods on request after adequate counseling.”
In other words, if the counselor is satisfied that a
young person is mature enough to fully
understand his/her behavior and the
consequences of that behavior, parental consent
is not necessary in order to receive services.
Source: Botswana PMTCT Training Guidelines 2006
Requirements for Informed Consent –
Pregnant Adolescents
Pregnant adolescents do not need the consent of
their parents to be tested for HIV or to join the
PMTCT program, and parents do not need to be
present during counseling.
Adolescents may choose to have a parent or
another adult with them to provide the necessary
support. It is also important for family members
who will be assisting with caring for the baby to be
Summary Questions
o Thato is fifteen years old and HIV infected. Can Thato
consent to receiving ART treatment at the school clinic?
No. Parental or guardian consent is required for a
healthcare provider to treat a minor for HIV/AIDS.
However, it is important that the child be informed about
the treatment and be involved in the decision-making
o Can a pregnant adolescent consent for her own HIV test?
Yes. According to the Botswana PMTCT guidelines, a
pregnant teenager can provide consent for her own HIV
Source: Botswana PMTCT Training Guidelines 2006
Summary Questions Continued
• Mpho is seventeen years old and is a
mother. Does Mpho have the right to
decide whether her child should undergo
an HIV test?
Role of Civil Society Practitioners in
Promoting Children’s Rights
Yes, Mpho has the right to decide
whether her child should undergo an HIV
Role of Civil Society Practitioners in
Promoting Children’s Rights
Any work with HIV-infected children and
their families should uphold their right to
confidentiality and informed consent. (Susu
ilela suswana, gore suswana a tle a go
“The best interests of the child” should be
the primary consideration in all decisions
concerning children.
Act as positive role models in the
community. (Bana ba tle ba bine pina e re
e binang)
Be friendly and open with parents and talk
to them about children’s rights.
Involve children in the planning and
implementation of activities. (Botlhale jwa
phala bo tswa phalaneng…)
Bring cases of neglect and abuse of HIVinfected children to the attention of
healthcare providers and other relevant
Thank you to all our partners: