The position of child rights in India.

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It is high time to be committed to the end of child abuse in India. All of us need to ensure that these poor children get their due : a sound and well protected childhood. After all it must be our prime duty.

Submitted: October 02, 2012

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Submitted: October 02, 2012

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As we all know that India got freedom on 15th of August, 1947, but India could not yet achieve a satisfactory position in the field of child rights. It was hoped that with the advent of freedom in 1947 the evil of child abuse would be eradicated, but it is a subject of great regret and disappointment that millions of Indian children are yet to be freed from bloody claw of child trafficking, malnutrition, child labor, lack of education, lack of medication and all other forms of child abuse. These marginalized and ignored children are still waiting to enjoy their childhood and realize their full potential seems to be getting longer with every passing day.

A look at where the children of India stand today leaves much to be desired. We cannot even claim to have provided bare minimum food, education and protection for millions of children during all these years of freedom. Unfortunately, the issues do not seem to figure as high on the national agenda as they should.

After 65 years of freedom, child malnutrition has assumed epidemic proportions. Almost every second child in India faces some level of malnourishment. Almost 40 per cent of Indian children are underweight, and 45 per cent are stunted due to malnourishment, according to the National Family Health Survey-3. The survey also reported that six out of every 10 children from the poorest households are stunted, and almost as many are underweight. Children from the SC and ST communities are also more likely to be malnourished, according to this report. The ministry of health and family welfare states that more than 55 per cent of the under-5 mortality occurs from complications resulting from malnutrition.

Neither has enough been done to make life easier for children who somehow survive malnutrition. They work in factories, handling hazardous chemicals, losing their childhood even before having a glimpse of it. Many are employed for household work  and agricultural work in our cities, towns and villages.

 

According to the NSSO’s 66th round survey (2009-10), there are 49.84 lakh child laborers across the country.  About 13.3 per cent of children in the 10-18 age group are employed or engaged in some income earning activity. Of these, 42 per cent comprised casual wage workers and another 42 per cent were unpaid helpers in household enterprises.

Fortunately, millions of children now manage to go to school, thanks to the implementation of the Right to Education Act and several other schemes as Mid Day Meals, Scholarships etc. by government agencies and civil society, but ironically, this has led to more challenges. Going to school may not be the most pleasant experience for a child in India. In fact, it is a nightmare especially if a child belongs to a marginalised section of the society. Imagine children staying in school for eight hours without even a drop of drinking water, no toilets and in crowded classrooms where teachers teach two different classes of 80 to 100 students each. The growing number of enrolments which brings a smile to our faces doesn’t reveal these aspects.

 

The annual economic survey released this year informs us that 16.6 per cent of schools have no provision for drinking water, 45 per cent do not have even their own boundary wall and more than half of Class 2 and Class 4 classes sit together with another class.

In addition, 56 per cent of schools still have no separate toilets for girls, 28.6 per cent do not have libraries, 60 per cent do not comply with the teacher-pupil ratio of 1:30 as stipulated in the RTE Act and 28 per cent have no playground.

India is also increasingly becoming unsafe for children. According to the National Crime Record Bureau Statistics, a total of 5,484 cases of child rape were reported in 2010 as compared to 5,368 in 2009. Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of cases (1,182) followed by Maharashtra (747). These two states accounted for 35.2 per cent of the total child rape cases reported in the country.

A total of 10,670 cases of kidnapping and abduction of children were reported during the year as compared to 8,945 in the previous year — a significant increase of 19.3 per cent. Delhi (2,982) has accounted for 27.9 per cent of the total cases reported in the country.

Around 100 cases of infanticide were also reported in the same year, up from 63 in 2009. The NCRB records and other studies done by non-government bodies show that child trafficking is rampant. We do not even have a central database of missing children which is updated in real time. Thousands of cases have been registered for trafficking of children. There are known ‘hubs’ of child trafficking across the country and we are not able to shut them down effectively.

The conviction rate for such heinous crimes against children stands at a meager 34%. This indicates how poorly not only our social, but also legal system — the “last line of defence” for a child — is equipped.

In the light of these facts, it is high time to be committed to the end of child abuse in India.  All of us need to ensure that these poor children get their due: a sound and well protected childhood. After all it must be our prime duty.


© Copyright 2019 Saeed Khan Falahi. All rights reserved.

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