Do not let her fantastic title fool you! Diamond IS an acrobatic child wonder with an extraordinary gift for acrobatics. However, the story of her life is not all that glamorous. She is the fifth child born to penniless parents who would have preferred that she’d been born a boy. Her birth name is Ellen-Jane Potts. She and her siblings had not been able to go to school and get an education as her parents had been too poor to afford to send them all to school. She lost her mother at a very young age after which her father then sold her for a measly 5 Guineas to be a circus performer for the Tanglefield’s Travelling Circus. Diamond soon discovers the dangers of life behind the curtains. Her greedy master, Beppo, changed her name. He also forces her to attempt daring and dangerous tricks and threatens to beat her if she does not do them. Sounds terrible right? It definitely is, however, in Wales the law endeavours to protect children from circumstances or situations like Diamond’s. This article looks at how the law in Wales would protect you if you were ever in cases similar to Diamond’s.
The law on your identity.
Beppo changed Diamond’s name because it was not catchy enough.
From birth, you have the right to a name and an identity. According to article 8 and 9 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), your state (This being Wales) must provide you with protection and assistance in restoring your identity if you have illegally been deprived of any element of your identity. This could be your name, nationality and family relations. This convention has been incorporated into Welsh law. This means that the Welsh Government must uphold your rights and protect you in a situation like this where an element of your identity is taken from you.
The law says that you have to be registered when you are born, and the name that you are given can only be changed if certain rules are followed. However, you can still legally have your name changed if you are under 18. .. To do this, you’ll need the consent of everyone with parental responsibility for you. When you are born, your mum automatically has parental responsibility for you, and your dad does if he is married to your mum when you are born. If your parents are in a same sex relationship – you have 2 mums or 2 dads, then both parents can have parental responsibility if they make an application to court. A step parent (someone who marries your mum or dad later on who isn’t your biological parent) can also apply for parental responsibility. If your parents have died and asked someone to look after you as a Guardian in their will, the guardian will have parental responsibility. For more information see this section of the website: https://childrenslegalcentre.wales/how-the-law-affects-me/relationships/my-family-life/
If you can’t get consent, then a court order can be made. If you’re 16 or 17, you can choose to make your own deed poll instead. You can look at this further by following this link: https://www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/change-a-childs-name
The law on your Guardianship
Diamond is sold to Beppo by her father for 5 Guineas. Your parents or guardians are NOT allowed to sell you for any price. Article 26 and 27 of the UNCRC state that your parents are responsible for providing for you in their financial capacity. Your country can also take appropriate measures to help your parents provide for you through financial help or social security. If your parents still cannot look after you, the state can look for close family members that could look after you. If that cannot be the case, you could be put into foster care. The state and local authorities will definitely assess your situation to help find the best solution for you. You cannot be sold like a box of chocolates! That could be considered as Trafficking as she was also being exploited for her talent. Human Trafficking in the UK is illegal. You can read more about this here https://www.ecpat.org.uk/FAQs/what-are-the-existing-legislative-frameworks-to-protect-children-against-transnational-child-exploitation.
In Diamond’s situation, once Beppo had bought her, he forced her to do dangerous stunts and threatened to beat her if she did not do them. You have the right to protection against all forms of abuse, whether physical or mental. Article 19 of the UNCRC talks about this right. In Wales parents and guardians cannot use the “Reasonable punishment”, defence to justify hitting a child unlike in other parts of the UK.
In conclusion, If you ever found yourself or even a friend in a situation similar to Diamonds’, you have the law to protect you. Hopefully that never happens😊.
About Author – Chanda
I am a final year law student. I am particularly interested in Human Rights law and hope to pursue a career in it. Growing up I read everything I could get my hands on. I enjoyed writing this blog because as a child (even now) I would put myself in the character’s shoes. It is very comforting to discover that in very bad situations in reality… the law is there to protect us.