Roma Rights 3, 2000: Rights of the Child

The classical human rights doctrine posits that every human being, born free and equal in dignity and rights, endowed with a free will, is capacitated to make free choices. The free will is a transparent, self-reflective agency, expressing the individual’s interest. The individual subject, a bearer of rights, is in principle an indivisible and autonomous entity, interacting only with other, equally free subjects of rights. Thus, the classical human rights paradigm leaves out of consideration the whole process of “becoming” a conscious bearer of rights. Its point of departure is the terminal point at which the process of achieving rights capacity is already accomplished. As to women, children, and the various categories of incompetent persons, their “personhood” is deemed incomplete, their rights and capacity to choose rationally - restricted. They are in need of custody - by fathers, husbands, parents, guardians, doctors, and other mature subjects.

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