Voice of the Children sheds light on stateless children in Malaysia

Non-government children’s organisation Voice of the Children and Geometry Global have launched a new programme called “Bring the Light” to raise awareness on the issue of stateless children in Malaysia.

These stateless children are denied access to education, healthcare and protection under the law making them vulnerable to poverty, violation, exploitation and trafficking. The ultimate goal of this campaign is to reduce the number of stateless children in Malaysia, and to raise awareness on the need for birth registration. It is also to educate parents that children may risk becoming stateless if they are not registered at birth.

According to the National Registration Department (NRD), a child’s citizenship status is determined by the parents’ marital status and their citizenship status at the time of birth. The NRD also mentions that having a birth certificate is not an indication that someone is a Malaysian citizen. Child activists have long condemned this regulation. Currently, there are between 50,000 to 150,000 unregistered children in Malaysia.

Hartini Zainudin, Vice President of Voice of the Children said: “The fight to give stateless children a country to call home resonates strongly with me, not just as a child activist, but particularly as a mother.”

The campaign encourages the public to shine a light on the plight of stateless children in Malaysia, turning their dark existence into a bright future. To communicate this message and symbolize the cause, Voice of the Children worked with Geometry Global to design a pledge in the form of an electronic canvas.

Attendees were invited to sign their name on a succession of black canvases in solidarity of the cause. A special pen containing conductive ink linked two ends of a circuit together and completed it, enabling the face of a stateless child to ‘come out of the darkness’ in LED lights. These works of art are being auctioned and proceeds from the sales will go towards efforts to get stateless children registered and on the path to citizenship.

The public can also add their signatures in support of the campaign via the Bring to Light mobile website at www.bring2light.net. Users simply sign with their finger to make the face of a child light up and appear from the darkness. The signed portrait of the child can be shared on social media to show how powerful each signature can be in helping these children become visible.