Author – Ganesh Arora
The ‘Child Rights’ is a constitutional and crucial term that our society requires the most. Child rights are a subset of human rights with special attention to the rights of protection and care afforded to minors. The UN and the Government of India have specified the rights and policies for children. These are some basic rights that should necessarily be granted for the survival, protection, and development of children. According to the UN Convention on child rights – that India ratified in 1992 – all children are born with fundamental rights. The Constitution of India assures all children specific rights, such as the Right to free and compulsory elementary education [Article 21 (A)], the Right to be protected from any dangerous job (Article 24), the Right to be protected from being abused and forced by economic necessity to enter occupations unsuited to their age or strength [Article 39(e)], Right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and conditions of freedom and dignity [Article 39 (f)], etc.
Due to a lack of social knowledge and awareness, they are the most vulnerable part of society and their rights have been violated every single day. Anyone can put them in child abuse by misusing their innocence. The infringement of child rights in India cannot be attributed to just one factor as it is an interplay of many. Firstly, child trafficking is one of the major issues existing in India. Every few minutes, a child is either kidnapped or sold by his/her parents due to rampant poverty and is trafficked to various parts of the country and abroad. Secondly, one of the most important factors leading to violation of child rights in India is the sexual offenses committed against minors, and the most alarming fact is that in about 94.8 percent of cases, the children were assaulted by somebody who was known to them. Thirdly, India is home to the largest child labor population in the world. This is primarily due to a lack of accountability in labor laws, forced displacement, and intense poverty.
The incidences of child rights violations in India are reflective of the fact that society is becoming more self-centered. There has been a loosening of societal barriers that restrict an individual’s behavior in society, and this has led to an increase in the crimes against the most vulnerable section of society — children. Child rights violation in India is an issue that needs to be addressed at the national as well as the local level and requires cooperation from various NGOs, government bodies, school administration, and parents.
The incidences of child abuse which earlier used to happen behind closed doors and went largely unreported have now started coming into the limelight — thanks to the media coverage they receive. It is also important to introduce new laws protecting child rights in India along with the stricter implementation of the already existing ones so that no child, irrespective of his/her caste, religion, sex, monetary or social status is kept out of the purview of these laws. The child must be put in a position to earn a livelihood and must be conserved against every form of exploitation.
Some of the major legislations for protecting child rights are the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, juvenile justice act 2015, POSCO act 2012, etc. The POCSO Act is a comprehensive law to provide for the safety of children from the offenses of pornography, sexual assault, and harassment, while safeguarding the interests of the child at every stage of the judicial process by incorporating child-friendly mechanisms for reporting, recording of evidence, investigation, and speedy trial of offenses through designated Special Courts. Before POSCO Act 2012, Goa Children’s Act, 2003 was the only specific piece of child abuse legislation and child sexual abuse was prosecuted under section 375 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code.
However, the IPC could not effectively safeguard the child due to various loopholes. Child sexual abuse laws in India have been legislated as part of the child protection policies of India. the judiciary and the Supreme Court to have played an effective role in upholding the rights of the child. Some of the most important examples of social action litigation for children are Laxmikant Pandey vs. Union of India, M.C. Mehta vs. State of Tamil Nadu, Unni Krishnan vs. State of Andhra Pradesh, Miss Mohini Jain vs the State of Karnataka, and Vishal Jeet vs. Union of India. Each of these has been a milestone in the process of guaranteeing children’s rights.
India has done commendable work for child rights but the challenge is in implementing the laws due to inadequate human resource capacity on the ground and quality prevention and rehabilitation services.
ANGER AND SHOCK AT CHILD ABUSE ARE NOT ENOUGH. WE ALL NEED TO COME TOGETHER TO #ENDVIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN.
Author – Ganesh Arora is studying at Amity Law School.