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Full Access “Acting Like a Rich Bully”?: Madonna, Mercy, Malawi, and international children’s rights law in adoption

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“Acting Like a Rich Bully”?: Madonna, Mercy, Malawi, and international children’s rights law in adoption

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Although it may seem ironic that a policy affecting so few children should engage so much political and social attention, the symbolic significance of intercountry adoption far outweighs its practical import. A recent reminder of this fact on the African continent is the 2009 Madonna adoption case. This note considers Madonna’s second adoption of a child from Malawi in the light of international children’s rights laws. Although human rights groups have alleged that Madonna was “acting like a rich bully” in the main, Madonna’s adoption can withstand the scrutiny of children’s rights, and in fact, has contributed towards helping the discourse of children’s rights in Malawi “stumble” forward.

Affiliations: 1: Mellon-Research Fellow, Community Law Centre Part-Time Lecturer, Faculty of Law <institution xmlns:xlink="">University of the Western Cape</institution>, <country>South Africa</country>, Email:, URL:


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