Participation of “Walled” Children Begins When Adults Listen—The Right to Participation of Children in Conflict with the Law in India


  • Alankrita S



This paper presents the art series “Walled”, in which I depict my reflections on the experiences of children in conflict with the law in state-run facilities—how and why they might feel walled. The walls in the six paintings symbolize barriers to children’s participation. They are dark and seemingly insurmountable, yet make way for windows and light that represent children’s agency. In doing so, I draw on my experience of working with children in conflict with the law as a practitioner in India, my artistic construction of them feeling “walled” and my qualitative research on their right to participation.

To situate my work experience and reflections in theory and academic literature, I conducted research to identify challenges to participation rights that these children face. The key finding from my research is that children are viewed by adult practitioners as future becomings, hence, incapable and incompetent to participate. However, when adult practitioners listen to children, their knowledge and practice is informed by children’s views and perspectives. Listened-to children feel empowered and more able to participate. Thus, the onus is on adult practitioners to create safe spaces for children to share and contribute to decision making.

Keywords: children in conflict with the law; right to participation; Article 12 UNCRC; juvenile justice; India.


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Visual Law