This article was written by Toshan Chandrakar a student of H.N.L.U. Raipur.
Every human being walking on this planet has been bestowed with some natural rights which are called human rights. In other words, it’s a right which is believed to belong to every person. This set of rights is inalienable, inseparable and fundamental and no other person walking this earth can infringe with it. These rights exist from the moment when a baby is conceived in the mother’s womb. So, one can conclude that every child born has rights which are availed to him for his protection even before he is born. But these rights, many people fail to recognize and hence this results in human rights violation.
The issue of Human Rights is very sensitive as it contains many rights and can be called as a huge cluster of many undefined, unimaginable and fundamental rights. Within its domain it includes the right to life, equality, freedom from discrimination and slavery, equality before law, opinion and information, education and what not and hence infringement of one right may mean infringement of many others as well. Do we avail ourselves of these ‘n’ number of rights? Does the weaker sections of the society enjoy these rights? And especially children, do they enjoy the benefits of the rights which they are unaware of? Do children need special assistance for getting availed their rights? Is there a need to sensitize people of the rights availed to a child?
The development of a society is approached through the development of its children. A new born child is unaware of the hurdles he will have to face in the future. Though he will be protected and nurtured by his loving parents, one cannot always have the safety available. Hence, there arises a need to teach a child about his rights, to let him know and discover the ways he can protect himself to his maximum efforts. However, this does not mean that only the child is to be made aware of the provisions he is entitled to. The society at large, the adults responsible for his future is also to be sensitized about the child’s rights. The first thing to acknowledge the rights of the children is to know who is a child. Article 1 of Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) defines a child as “For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”That is a ‘child’ is a person below the age of 18, unless the laws of a particular country sets the legal age for adulthood younger. The Committee on the Rights of the Child, the monitoring body for the Convention, has encouraged States to review the age of majority if it is set below 18 and to increase the level of protection for all children under 18.
According to the 2011 Census, there are 444 million children in India under the age of 18 years. This constitutes 37% of the total population in the country and out of every 100 children, only 32 children finish their school education age-appropriately. This describes a very little part of a very harsh reality. Moreover, there are 10.13 million child labourers between 5-14 years in India. The health indicators of children in India are among the worst in the world – only around half (54%) of the infants in India are fully immunised. More than half the births in the country continue to remain home-births.
Governments have a responsibility to take all available measures to make sure children’s rights are respected, protected and fulfilled. Yet somehow the children get exploited. The right to education, livelihood, protection from unnatural offences are some ‘kinds’ to be mentioned. According to UNICEF, violence against children can be physical and mental abuse and injury, negligent treatment, exploitation and sexual abuse. Violence may take place in homes, schools, orphanages, on the streets, in the workplace, in prisons and in places of detention. In India, it is estimated that 15 crore girls and 7.3 crore boys under 18 have been subjected to forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence.
Sexual violence results in the children losing their sense of security and find themselves unable to lead healthy and productive lives. It is a known fact that children who have faced sexual violence is vulnerable to broad range of mental, physical and emotional problems like anxiety, depression, addiction, low self-esteem, self-harm, eating disorders, depression, nightmares, flashbacks, attachment problems etc. The statistics show a surprising rate of increase in sexual abuse and yet many countries fail to recognize this evil. It becomes very important, hence, to counsel and help the children, the victims of this type of abuse. Creating awareness and prevention programs for clients, students, and parents is one logical course to prevent child sexual abuse. In India, ‘The protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012’ provides for a variety of offenses under which an accused can be punished. It recognizes forms of penetration other than peno-vaginal penetration and criminalizes acts of immodesty against children too. Though it is needed to make the laws more strict and pressing and also it is needed to redefine ‘sexual exploitation of child’.
Another act for the betterment of the children apart from ‘The protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012’ is the ‘The Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) act 2000’.With the advancement of industrialization and urbanization, juvenile delinquency is emerging as a major problem in all the developing countries of the world. Children are being misled by a perverted system. The act, hence, was brought in compliance of the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which repealed the earlier Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 after India signed and ratified the UNCRC in 1992. The act is applicable the entire territory of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. A separate petition titled Deepika Thusso Versus State of Jammu and Kashmir is also pending consideration before Supreme Court on implementation of Juvenile Justice Act, 1997 which is applicable in the State of Jammu & Kashmir.