A child is any human being who is below the age of eight years. Children are a gift to society and it is very important for the society to look after the children of the country because children have a big hand in furnishing the overall growth of the society. The government of the country is responsible for providing protection and care to every child. Children are an important asset which is very crucial for our future. It is said that if the roots are strong, the flowers blossoms similarly it is necessary for us to provide our children the best facilities and amenities which gives us a fruitful outcome and help them to lead a jovial life. The constitution of India provides children with some certain rights which includes their right to association with parents, right to avail basic needs such as food, health care etc. , right to be physically,mentally and emotionally free from abuse, freedom from discrimination on the basis of race,gender, color etc. In this paper we will be discussing about the rights which are available to the children. We will also discuss about the child sexual abuse laws in India which has been enacted with the view to protect the children in the protection of children from sexual offences act (POCSO). This paper also includes the various legislations/acts and their amendments which have been enacted by the parliament of India. We will also focus upon the rights available to the children along with the role of judiciary and its elucidation. A venture would also be made to make some recommendations for the legislators and executives.
Key words- rights of children, child sexual abuse laws, the protection of children from sexual offences, judiciary.
“Harassment in form of harm or injury by coercing the woman for any unlawful demand,Causing harm or injury by physical or mental means,By causing a threat to life,health or safety via sexual abuse,mental abuse,verbal abuse or emotional abuse.”
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) defines a child as any human being below the age of 18 years. The development of the society always depends upon the citizens of the country. Children have their respective roles in uplifting the society and making it grow all together. To make a country grow it is very important for the citizens to feel secure. As we have read about the Maslow’s need hierarchy theory in psychology, Maslow tells us about the five tier model of human needs among which he specifies that it is one of the significant needs of the person to feel secure relating to his personal security, employment, resources, health etc. Every human being passes through the beautiful phase of his life which is Childhood and every child grasps different experiences in his childhood. All the children have the right to be protected from abuse and exploitation as they are very much vulnerable to it as children are not seen as people who have the capacity to make any choices, or the talent of deciding things, so a special surveillance is required for the children.
There are many rights available to children some of which are as following:
- -Article 21(A) of the Indian constitution states that children in the age group of 6-14 have the right to free and compulsory elementary education.
- -Article 24 of the Indian constitution states that every child has the right to be procured from any hazardous employment till the age of 14 years.
- -Article39(e) of the Indian constitution states that every child has the right to be protected from being abused and forced to enter occupations which are inapt to their age and strength.
- -Article 14 of the Indian constitution states that every child has the right to be treated equally.
- -Article 15 of the Indian constitution states that every child has the right against discrimination.
- -Article 23 of the Indian constitution states that every child has the right to be procured from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour.
Children need extra protection and guidance from adults and need to be provided with some special rights of their own. The rights of the children are determined by the Constitution of India and United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (CRC).
CRC is a convention which is based on the principles ‘best interest of the child’ ‘no discrimination’ ‘the right to life’ and ‘survival and development.
It incorporates full range of human rights which includes civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The major goal of this convention is to provide the children an environment which is healthy for their growth and development. It aims to provide children just and equal treatment in the society. It includes both boys and girls up to the age of 18 years.
The paper is based on the primary and as well as secondary data. The data has been collected from various websites of government and non-governmental bodies. This study follows doctrinal research method in the compilation, organization, interpretation and systematization of the secondary source material.
Government has taken several legislative measures to protect the child rights in the country. The government is implementing several policies, statues, laws and various programmes for protecting the rights of the children. therefore, the role of government in providing awareness to all citizens is positive and is helping in the development of the children.
Judiciary and its scope have expanded remarkably in recent times because of tremendous growth of statutory intervention in the present era. Judiciary plays a crucial role in protecting the fundamental rights of citizens which also includes rights of children. Protection of children against assaults and crimes is an important for growth of society as children play a vital role for the development of a country as they are the future of the country.
1. There have been many policy measures launched by the government some of which are as following.
- The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act,2006.
- The Protection of children from sexual Offences Act,2012.
- Child Labour (prohibition & regulation) Amendment Bill,2012.
- The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act,2009.
- National Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Policy,2013.
- The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
2. The Government of India has also implemented following schemes to protect child rights.
- Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in 2009.
- Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyogYojana (IGMSY), 2010.
- Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (Sabla), 2010.
- Restructured Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), 2012.
- Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme
- Childline and Track Child.
- Multi-sectoral programme to address Maternal and Child under nutrition
- BetiBachao, BetiPadhao
3. Talking about the present situation of children in India.
India is a country in South Asia consisting of 1.21 billion people in 29 states which makes it the second most populous and seventh most extensive country in the world. There are 472 million children jn India which are below the age of 18 years, representing 39% of the country’s total population. Around 73% of children in India lives in rural areas which have limited access to fundamental requirements such as nutrition, healthcare, education and protection. The protection of children’s right act 2005 has brought some impact in promoting the children’s right but still there’s a long way to go. Promoting child rights is the utmost priority of the government of India as the children are the upcoming future and for such growth of children there are many laws which have been enshrined in the constitution and protected in the legislation. In India nearly 1 million children die under the age of 5 due to the insufficient healthcare facilities. There’s an estimate of 39 deaths per 1000 live births.
India has more than 204 million undernourished people as a result of which the government started a large awareness campaign in order to educate the population about the importance of a balanced diet. Education is a key barrier to realise the children’s rights. India consists of the largest number of illiterate people in the world. The government of India spends 10.5% of the total government expenditure on the education. The indian government is trying to find solutions to allow all the Indians whether it be young or old to to get benefit from high quality education in order to fight against illiteracy. The other major concern of India islife, survival and child development, a fundamental right is embedded in the constitution “no person shall be deprived of his personal liberty...” but still thousands of children lose their lives each day because of the female infanticides and also thousands of girl child either die before being born or lose their lives after being born because they are not desired by their family. Also, globally 117 million girls demographically go missing due to selective sex-abortions and in India every 9 minute 9 abortions of female foetuses takes place
After realising all these facts we come to a conclusion that India has shown a tremendous growth but still has a long way to go to protect the rights of the children.
This is the graphical representation of children’s right index
GOVERNMENT’S PROTECTIVE MEASURES ON CHILDREN’S RIGHTS.
There have been many schemes which have been implemented by the government to protect the children from sexual harassment, child trafficking, child abuse and so on are as follows-
Integrated child Protection scheme (ICPS).
This scheme was proposed in 2006 and was implemented in 2009. It is a programme where the government puts emphasis on the security of the children and specially concentrates on the children who are in the need of care and protection, juveniles in conflict etc.
Indira Gandhi MatritvaSahyog Yojana (IGMSY).
The government has started this scheme in October 2010, to provide pregnant and lactating women maternity benefits with the aim to improve their health. Cash incentives are to be given to such needy women.
Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (Sabla),2010.
This scheme was initiated on April 1st in 2011. The aim of this scheme is to improve the nutrition and health status of the adolescent girls. It also focuses upon educating the girls regarding the health, hygiene, nutrition, sexual health. It put emphasis upon upgrading the home based skills, life skills etc.
ROLE OF JUDICIARY
It is the paramount duty of the judiciary to act as a protector of human rights and also act as a guardian to protect them from any kind of infringement. The judiciary plays an important role in protecting the child rights firstly, it acts as a protector and guardian of the child rights. secondly, it acts as an interpreter of the fundamental rights. Thirdly, it integrates the directive principles with the fundamental rights.
1. The Indian penal code also have some specific sections which narrate about the laws that are specifically made for the children, they are-Section 82
t says that no child below the age of seven years can be criminally held guilty for an action.Section 83
It says that nothing is an offence done by a child Who’s maturity level is insufficient to understand the nature and the consequences of his/her act and is above seven years and under twelve years.
2. The International covenant on civil and political rights is a treaty that came into effect on 23rd march 1976. The rights conferred in this treaty are universal and accepted by all the nations on the Earth as ICCPR is a multilateral international covenant. The rights of ICCPR includes everybody and applies to children as well.
Some of the general rights available to the children under ICCPR are :
- The right to security of a person
- The right to be separated from adults when charged with a crime.
- The right to speedy adjudication
- The right to be treated according to their age
- The right to be free from cruelty, inhuman & degrading treatment.
3. In Convention on the rights of the child
The rights of the children are outlined as the 3 P’s which are as follows:
Protection : children have an adequate right of protection from exploitation,discrimination,abuse etc.
Provision : children have the right of living a standard life, they are also given the right of having adequate heath services, education services etc.
Participation : children have the right to participate and involve themselves into the community activities and have are also eligible to participate in the programs and services which are organised for them.
4. The protection of children from sexual offences (POCSO) Act 2012.
A sexually abused child needs special care and supervision.This act was enacted to construct a systemised legal framework for protecting the children (who are below 18 years) from being sexually assaulted. The offences under this act are as follows
• Penetrative sexual assault
It refers to any insertion of penis/object or any other body part in child’s vagina/urethra/anus/mouth or asking the child to do so with them or with another person.
• Sexual harassment
It refers to making any sexual gestures or passing any sexually coloured remarks and flashing or following any child.
• Sexual assault
It refers to touching the child or making the child touch the other person.
• Child pornography
It refers to watching the child pornography or keeping a collection of porn which involves children content.
It safeguards the interest of the children by making the reporting easy, it also eases the recording of the evidences, enquiring about the case and providing a speedy trial for the same. And for all such purpose, special courts have been constructed. A special child welfare committee is fabricated and it is the duty of police to inform the committee about the case within 24 hours after which the committee can however appoint a person who will take care of the psycho-socio well being of the child and also inform the child’s family about the information related to the case.
Some of the landmark cases which lead to many amendments related to child rights in India are as follows-
1. In, Sheela Barse v. Union of india
The petitioner was a social worker who petitioned for releasing the children who were illegally detained in jails. And in this case the court observed that the child in the jails are entitled for special treatment in the jail as they are the assets for the future and should be given special treatment and protection. The court decided to make juvenile homes for children who were in jail.
2. In, MC mehta v. State of tamilnadu
Match industries was situated at Sivakasi (Tamil Nadu) where there were children working in the industry. In this case the supreme court held that children below 14 years are not eligible to be employed in the hazardous jobs in factories or industries which affects the health of the children and positive steps must be taken for the children for their welfare and development and steps must be taken to improve the quality of their life.
3. In Gaurav jain v. Union of India
The supreme court issued specific guidelines to protect the children born to prostitutes from victimisation. Court also held that these child have the same rights as the other children have and for the protection of rights of such children the supreme court constituted a committee which will ensure in securing the rights of such children..
4. In Sangeeta Punekar v. State of Maharashtra (2001)
Rev Alfred was the director of the Prem Sagar who many a times attempt to rape the children in the institution.The petition was filed by a social worker and a member of forum against child sexual exploitation (FACSE) who worked upon the issues related to children and pleaded the court to keep a check upon the institutions dealing with the young children and it must be ensured that they don’t function if they don’t have the appropriate license under the Women’s and children’s institution (license) Act 1955 and also the juvenile justice (care and protection children Act 2000.
5. In Unnikrishnan’s v. State of Andhra pradesh
The court held that every child below the age of 14 years has the right to obtain free education (as stated under article 21A of the constitution) and after the age of 14 years it depends upon the economic conditions of the state to provide the education.
6. In SampurnaBehrua v. Union of India
This judgment made emphasis upon optimistic performance by the National Commission for protection of child’s rights (NCPCR) and also upon the State commission for protection of child rights (SCPCR) and this would be done by the central and state governments. Court gave the order that the police is to be comprehended by the state child protection society and district child protection units. The court also endorsed every state to provide food,shelter,healthcare facilities and education to the children. The court also made the registration mandatory (provision to JJ Act)by the individuals or NGO’s to avoid incidents of trafficking or sexual abuse of the children.
From the above observations we can conclude that government plays a positive role in ensuring safety of the children with the help of various acts and incentives. This proves that the hypothesis of the paper is true. Government is trying its best to protect children but all these efforts go worthless if the people of the country are not abiding by it and are violating the rules and regulations. Due to Lack of initiatives by the people, these provisions have not been able to spread its benefits. Some people are still unaware about the Rights available to them and to their children even after so many workshops and campaigns being conducted by the government. There should be awareness among people about the value of children as they are the future of the country and children shall also be made aware about their rights available to them and should be told how to exercise them.
The parents/guardians or the children themselves shall come out with their grievances and shall raise their voice which is a power to make the change in the society and seek redressal rather than keeping mum. Lately, There is lack of cooperation between the legislation and executives which makes judiciary to work in a better and more efficient manner. As there are times due to political pressure the police inspectors and SHO’s refuse to even file a F.I..R. and don’t even act on the complain, bury the evidences and act as a shield for the accused and offers outside the court settlement. Once the gaps will be filled, the country will be able to grow and develop more than it is now.
Although Indian judiciary and legislations are playing active role on the safety and security of children and their rights as well using various laws and legislations, schemes and incentives, but still there is room for some improvements. Here are some suggestions to improve the implementation on Child’s safety and for the protection of their rights.
1. Providing the children with more education.
Educating the communities about the ills attached to child labour and discouraging them from sending their children to work. Increasing enrolment rates and improving education quality so that more children reach school and they gather up more education which could help them protect themselves from being misused.
2. Focus on building more help groups
Mostly children on’t speak up as they’re afraid and at times didn’t get help from anyone. NGO’s and help groups should be established throughout the country providing adequate help to the children to look up to their grievances and provide them with the required aid.
3. Survivor not a victim
Children after anything wrong has happened should be not treated as a victim, but as a survivor. The same amount of respect be given to them and society should accept them rather than neglecting them and focus more on protecting the rights of children.
4. Generating more welfare schemes
The government must make several welfare schemes which support the rights of the children and protect them as well. The government must also generate strict laws which helps to keep the children to get the uprightness.
5. Opening more rehabilitation & counselling centres
Rehabilitation and counselling centres must be opened by the government so that the children facing the problems could come up with their grievances and the officials could provide them with succour.
Above suggestions can help judiciary and other government authorities to implement women safety in an effective way.