Children’s Rights as Living Rights: The Case of Street Children and a new Law in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

In this article the authors propose the notion of living rights to highlight that children, whilst making use of notions of rights, shape what these rights are, and become, in the social world. Emphasising children’s agency in living with and through their rights facilitates empirical enquiry, and moves the vectors of the debate on what children’s rights are to the interplay between how children understand their rights and the way others translate and make use of rights claims on children’s behalf.

The argument builds upon a case study in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, where street children, claiming the right to safely live and work on the streets, were involved in a successful campaign against an anti-vagrancy draft law. However, the subsequent new legislation – although in line with international children’s rights standards – ignored their claims and offers little for those street children who do not want to be “rescued”.