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November 20 is the United Nations’ (UN) Universal Children’s Day. The day was established in 1954 to promote awareness among children of the rights accorded to them. Since 1990, Universal Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).

Jamaica is a signatory to Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

 

Read the Declaration of the Rights of the Child and Convention on the Rights of the Child

Read a more simple version here.

 

Need help teaching children about their rights? Use these helpful audiovisual tools provided by the United Nations

Cartoons to help you illustrate rights to children

 

ARE YOU OLD ENOUGH?

We compare what the Convention of the Rights of the Child has to say about children’s ability to carry out certain roles and do certain activities with what the laws of Jamaica has to say about it. diGJamaica asks, Are You Old Enough To...

 

….Go to war

The United Nations says....

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child says that no one under the age of 15 should have to fight in a war. An optional protocol, or formal addition, to the Convention pushes that age up to 18. Voluntary recruitment of under-18s is not forbidden by this protocol, but under-18 recruits must have the consent of their parents or guardians and should not be involved in combat. So far, this protocol has been signed by 111 countries and ratified – given legal force – by 54 of those countries.”

 

Jamaican law says...

Jamaica as a sovreign state has not engaged in war, so diGJamaica looked at the age limits for joining the armed forces.

To join the Jamaican military, the Jamaica Defense Force one must be between the ages of 18 to 25 for men and 18 to 23 for women.

To join the Jamaican police force, the Jamaica Constabulary Force, you must be over the age of 18 as well.

 

….to Work?

The United Nations says…

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child makes it clear that if you are under 18 you should not have to do work that harms or exploits you.

Harmful work is defined as work that:

• damages your health and development
• causes you physical or emotional stress
• prevents you from getting an education
• prevents you from having time to rest and play.

Exploitative work is work that:

• you are forced to do
• involves buying or selling you (child trafficking)
• involves being prostituted or used in pornography
• takes away your dignity and self-esteem
• doesn't pay fairly.

The International Labour Organization Convention says that you should be able to do light work from the age of 13 (or as young as 12 in countries at a lower level of development) as long as it does not interfere with your education."
 

Jamaican law says…

[Child Care and Protection Act, 2004]

33. No person shall employ a child under the age of thirteen years in the performance of any work.

34. - (1) No person shall employ a child who has attained the age of thirteen years, but who has not attained the age of fifteen years, in the performance any work other than in an occupation included on the over list of prescribed occupations referred to in thirteen.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), the Minister shall maintain a list of prescribed occupations –

(a) consisting of such light work as the Minister responsible for labour considers appropriate for

the employment of any child of the age referred to in that subsection; and

(b) specifying the number of hours during which and the conditions under which such child may be so employed.

 

(3) No person shall employ a child -

(a) in the performance of any work that is likely to be hazardous or to interfere with the child's

education or to be harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual or social

 

…To have sex

The United Nations says...

There aren't any international laws or guidelines on the age of consent, though the Convention on the Rights of the Child says that you have the right to be protected from all forms of sexual abuse and exploitation. In addition, the Committee on the Rights of the Child argues that countries with a low legal age of consent should raise it.

If you are living in some parts of the United States, or in Egypt, it's 18; in Northern Ireland, it's 17; in Namibia, 16; in Sweden, 15; in Canada, 14; in Korea, 13; in Mexico, 12. But 16 is by far the most common age of consent.

 

Jamaican law says…

[Offences Against the Person Act]

Section 48 : Carnally knowing girl under twelve

(1) Whosoever shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any girl under the age of twelve years shall be guilty of felony, and, being convicted thereof, shall be liable to imprisonment for life.

Section 50: Above twelve and under sixteen.

Whosoever shall unlawfully and carnally know and abuse any girl being above the age of twelve years and under the age of sixteen years shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years:

 

…To Vote

The United Nations say...

"The age at which you can vote in government elections (sometimes called 'the age of majority' – when you are no longer considered a minor) also varies quite a lot from country to country, though 18 is by far the most common voting age.

A few examples: In Iran, the voting age is 15; in Cyprus and Cuba, 16; in Indonesia, 17; in Bolivia, it's 18 if you are married but 21 if you are single; in Austria and Jordan, it's 19; in Cameroon and Japan, 20; in Côte d'Ivoire, Kuwait and Sierra Leone, 21."

Jamaican law says…

Every Jamaican citizen who possesses the following qualifications is entitled to register to vote;
• Is a Jamaican citizen of eighteen years or over and resident in Jamaica or
• Is a commonwealth citizen who is eighteen years of age or older and who is resident in Jamaica at the date of registration and who has been resident for at least twelve months prior to the date of registration.

 


Sources

Who can register? Electoral Office of Jamaica website. http://www.eoj.com.jm/content-73-76.htm

Are you old enough?  http://www.unicef.org/rightsite/433_457.htm

 

Legislation cited in the Article

Child Care And Protection Act

 
 

The Sexual Offences Act of 2009

 
(replaces sections 44 to 67 of the Offences Against the Person Act)