In recognition of International Migrants Day (December 18), we reflect on the movements of people across borders–the myriad issues that drive people from “home” to new lands in which they take on the new identity of the “other.” With a particular focus on children, Jacqueline Bhabha explores this issue through the multilidiscplinary lens of human rights in her book Child Migration and Human Rights in a Global Age, published earlier this year. An excerpt:
“…the approach to ‘otherness’ in our societies is ambivalent–caught between an identification of the other as “human like me” and a hostility or indifference toward the other as separate or dispensable or threatening. This is particularly so for migrant children, where perceptions of vulnerability (“poor and innocent children”) and otherness (“not really like our children”) coalesce. So, economic and self-interested demands for the cheap labor of migrant children are in tension with uncontroversial rights that all children, including these children, now have as a matter of both law and popular belief. That is why the exploitation of migrant children in factories, farms, and sweatshops in industrialized countries continues, as does the vulnerability of the relevant industries to rights-driven lawsuits and human rights campaigns. It is an uneasy but continuing balance, reflecting society’s ambivalence.”
Bhaba also contributed to 2014 report of the Global Migration Group: Migration and Youth: Challenges and Opportunities.
Bhabha discusses this work on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fumVjHbJiZU#t=10.
Photo: International Labour Organization/Marcel Crozet