CHILD RIGHTS IN INDIA
Special Rights for the children is found in the Constitution of India and states have equally enacted laws for the protection of the rights of the children. The Child Rights which is provided for in the Constitution of India is in accordance with the UN’s Convention on the Rights of a Child as Fundamental rights. Several persons and groups have approached the Supreme Court for the restoration of child rights.
It is the responsibility of the government to take appropriate measures to ensure the complete implementation of the child rights. The Directive Principles of State Policy promotes the economic and social rights that have been deemed necessary in the governance of the country of which states must apply.
Based on these directives, the judiciary has provided some important judgments that promote the rights of the child which led to the 86th amendment of the constitution which included the right to education among the fundamental rights.
WHAT ARE CHILD RIGHTS?
A right is a contract or an agreement that exists between individuals that hold the right and the person or institution with responsibilities that results in the realization of the existence of the rights.
Child Rights are special human rights that are only applicable to persons below 18.
The UNCRC defines Child rights as the minimum freedom and privileges that should be enjoyed by persons below 18 irrespective of the colour, race, language, gender, opinions, wealth, religion, wealth, birth status, origin and is applicable to people everywhere.
According to the UN, these rights are indivisible and interdependent: which implies that they must be exercised in concurrence with other existing rights.
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has outlined the basic rights that should be enjoyed by every child. These rights are classified into four groups which covers political, economic, civil, social and cultural rights of a child.
WHAT ARE THE UNCRC CHILD RIGHTS?
- RIGHT TO SURVIVAL: The right to survival starts before the child is born. The government of India articulates that the life of a child begins after 20 weeks of the pregnancy. Thus, this right contains the right to be born, right to clothing and shelter, right to the list feeding standard and the right to live with dignity.
- RIGHT TO PROTECTION: The child must be protected from neglect, abuse at home or elsewhere and exploitation.
- RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION: It is the right of the child to be partake in the making of decisions that will affect him directly or indirectly. However, the age and maturity of the child determines his level of participation.
- RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT: The child is entitled to all forms of development which include physical, emotional or mental developments. Physical development is fulfilled by recreation, good food and play. Emotional development can be fulfilled by proper care, support and love while mental development is fulfilled through education and other means for acquiring knowledge.
WHAT IS CHILD PROTECTION?
According to UNICEF, Child Protection is the act of preventing the occurrence of violence, neglect, abuse and exploitation of a child. This includes child labour, trafficking, commercial sex exploitation and other traditional practices which include child marriage and female genital mutilation which are harmful to the child.
The protection ensures that the children can access other rights such as right to survival, growth, development, and participation.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE ABSENCE OF CHILD PROTECTION?
According to UNCIEF, where child protection fails the child is at risk of:
- Poor physical and mental health
- HIV/AIDS infection
- Educational problems
- Poor parenting skills at adulthood.
The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) defines Child Protection as the act of keeping children free of any danger or perceived danger to their livelihood. Child Protection is the understanding of the vulnerability of a child and ensuring that they are secured by providing a security net which they can depend and if they fall, there is a system where the child can always fall back on for the necessary rehabilitation and care.
WHAT ARE THE THREE STAGES OF CHILD PROTECTION?
The three stages of child protection include:
- Law and policies
- Processes and protocols
- Mechanism and systems
- Sensitization and awareness
- Laws and policies
- Access and Assistance
- Immediate attention during crises
- Restitution of rights
- Punishment of offenders
- Laws and policies
- Prolonged care until 18
- Skills and training
WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHILD RIGHTS AND CHILD PROTECTION?
It is necessary that you understand the difference between the concept of child rights and child protection.
Child rights consist of ideals or entitlements which can be given a legal interpretation although they cannot be felt by the hand.
Child protection, on the other hand, is more than just a right; in the sense that it is the system or mechanism by which all the rights of the child can be upheld.
The system consists of various government’s department, police, civil society, schools and everyone that is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the rights of the child are met, and adequate punishment is proffered where the child’s right is found to have been violated.
Child protection involves both prevention and treatment. In any given circumstances, the risk of violation of a child’s rights should be properly managed to prevent such from taking place.
WHAT ARE THE STEPS TO BE TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ARE PROTECTED?
Under child protection, steps must be taken by the relevant agencies to ensure the survival of families by providing them with food, education, and health at an affordable cost.
In addition to this, the needs of destitute, orphaned, and abandoned children should be addressed.
WHAT ARE THE FRAMEWORK TO ENSURE CHILD PROTECTION?
The framework for ensuring child protection include:
- Mechanisms for the relocation of less privileged children into families and foster homes where they can be loved and protected.
- Access to educational services
- Access to health services.
The framework is an interlink of functional ministries and sectors that are established to ensure the implementation of child rights.
WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF THE CONVENTION OF CHILD RIGHTS?
The international legislation on human rights that resulted in the Convention of the Rights of the Child has been regarded as a landmark achievement in its handling of issues that involves the children at a global scale.
These rights as documented in the convention has been instrumental in the campaign for the development of the child all over the world.
The convention was an initiative that resulted in the adoption of Child Right globally.
Before now, there had been efforts and activities to promote positive and constructive attitudes on a child as well as the improvement of their wellbeing.
The implementation of the Convention and the way the children have been affected by it have varied from country to country over the last 20 years or more.
Analysis have showed an increasing improvement in the way issues that involves a child have been addressed globally.
These improvements include access to education and health services and the enactment of legislations that are geared towards the survival of the child.
Although progress has been made, most developing countries including India are still lagging in the achievement of the goals of this Convention.
The polices have been framed already; but the enforcement has become the issue at stake.
Presently the condition of underprivileged children and youths in India are getting poorer because of the relatively low success in the implementation of child rights.
There is need for an increased effort in the implementation of the child’s welfare and the Convention at all levels.
THE CHILD RIGHT AND THE GLOBE
Different people across the world who are of the view to improving the welfare and the development of children are often been engaged in charitable works as a framework to ensuring the protection of children.
Notable among these persons are Princess Diana, Grace Abbot Nobel Laureate winner Ms. Malala Yousafzai. These persons have sacrificed their energy and resources to improving the lives of the most vulnerable in the society.
The 2014 winners of the Nobel Peace Prize Ms. Malala Yousafzai and Mr. Kailash Satyarthi have kept us in a constant remembrance of the need to advance opportunities that will affect the lives of the children positively. These opportunities are to allow them to learn and acquire the skills that will empower and develop them and their society at large.
Mr. Satyarthi has struggled to save children out of child labour camps and this has attracted several life’s threats to him from people who exploit young children for economic gain. Many illegal factories and camps have been raided by him and his team where children who have been forced into labour were rescued. So far, his movement has been on for 30 years with the slogan of ending child slavery.
Ms. Malala Yousafzai have been actively involved in the education of the female child. In 2009, aged 11, she wrote BBC of the dangers of banning the education of the girl child in the Taliban controlled province of Afghanistan. She started her fight through the article which received a global appeal but attracted more death threats to her and her family.
WHAT ARE THE GUARANTEE IN THE CONSTITUTION THAT ARE MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR CHILDREN?
- Right to free and compulsory education for persons aged 6 to 14 years under Article 21 A.
- Right to be free from any employment with the likelihood to cause hazard until the age of 14 under Article 24.
- Right to be protected from being abused or forced by the situation of the economy to be involved in an occupation that is beyond their age and strength under Article 39e.
- Right to equal facility and opportunities to develop in a manner that encourages freedom and dignity and guaranteed protection against material/moral abandonment and exploitation during childhood and youth under Article 39f.
- Right to early childhood education for all children until after the age of six under Article 45.
Other rights that the children in India have alongside with adults include:
- Right to equality
- Right not to be discriminated against
- Right to personal liberty and legal processes
- Right to protection against tracking and forced labour
- Rights to the protection of minority interest
- Rights for the weaker groups in the society to be protected from exploitation and social injustice.
- Right to health, nutrition and improved standard of living.