If we are ever to have real peace in this world we shall have to begin
with the children
. - Mohandas K. Gandhi
There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There
is no duty more important than ensuring that their rights are respected, that
their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want and
that they can grow up in peace. - Kofi Annan
Brief about Children’s Rights in India
There are 472 million children in India under the age of 18 years, representing
39% of the country’s total population. A large percentage, 29% of that figure
constitute children between the ages of 0 to 6 years. In addition, 73% of
children in India are living in rural areas, often have limited access to
fundamental needs such as nutrition, access to healthcare, education, and
The high percentage of children living in rural areas often result in negative
repressions in terms of children accessing fundamental rights. India’s
commission for the protection of children’s rights (act 2005) (amended in 2006),
has had some impact in promoting children’s rights in India.
Notably eliminating child labour, protection of children, and young persons. The
commission’s mandate is:
to ensure all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in
line with the Child Rights perspectives as enshrined in the constitution of
India and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989. It is
clear that in India promoting children’s rights is a government priority, that
is enshrined within the constitution and protected in legislation.
Despite this, children in India continue to face challenges in attaining these
rights, particularly those related to access to education, forced labour, and
child marriage. Given that children make up 39% of India’s 1.21 billion
population, it is imperative that the rights of these children are met.
Right to Health Addressing access to health is a key indicator of attaining children’s
rights. In India, nearly 1 million children die under the age of five, an
estimated 39 deaths per 1,000 live births. Women and children are most
likely to suffer disadvantages related to accessing health services such as
maternal and newborn coverage.
Only 1 in 3 Indian women benefit from regular monitoring of their pregnancy.
In rural areas, barely 37% of births are assisted by qualified health
personnel. India has more than 204 million undernourished people and Indian
children remain the most affected. Children in India often face a high
prevalence of stunting with rates as high as 39%.
As a response, the government started a large awareness campaign in order to
educate the population about the importance of a varied and balanced
diet. Children also face other challenges including a high incidence
of HIV infections: 3700 new infections among children, a lack of safe
drinking water, and adequate sanitation. The latter, as a result of uneven
distribution of comprehensive health services to women and children in rural
Right to Education Access to education in India remains a very problematic and key barrier to
realizing children’s rights. India continues to have the largest number of
illiterate people in the world at 287 million adults, the largest population
globally, and 37% of the world’s total. Although India’s literacy rate
increased by 15% between 1991 and 2006, subsequent population growth had
meant that the total number of illiterate people remained high.
Despite India’s efforts to devote 10.5% of its total government expenditure
on education, its decentralized nature means that rich states can spend much
more on education than poorer states. For example, a rich state like Kerala
spent $685 per person per year on education while a poorer state like Bihar
only spent $100. This unequal distribution of education further
marginalizes children especially those living in rural area. Discrimination
linked to the caste system as well as discrimination against woman also
remains, marginalizing millions of young Indians in the educational system.
Despite this, the Indian government is trying to find solutions to allow all
Indians, young or old, to benefit from high-quality education in order to
fight against illiteracy. In spite of the continuing problems, India can be
very proud of itself for having made considerable progress in its
Since 2009, Humanium has collaborated with local partners in India to
implement children’s rights, by opening residential special training
centers for former child labourer’s, promoting both “child-friendly
villages”, and various higher education aid projects. The aim of these
projects is to end child labour through education, improve the living of
whole villages in rural areas, and provide financial assistance projects
which enable young people from disadvantaged families to pursue higher
Right to life The Indian constitution of 1950 asserts that “everyone has the right to
life, liberty and the security of persons, and that “no person shall be
deprived of his life or personal liberty…”. Despite this fundamental right
enshrined in the constitution, life, survival, and child development remain
areas of concern in India. Thousands of children lose their lives each day,
not only because of poverty but also because female infanticides are
practiced with impunity.
The main threat to Indian children’s right to life stems from these female
infanticides, a cultural practice that persists. In fact, each day,
thousands of small Indian girls either die before being born or lose their
lives because they are not desired or accepted by their family. There are
several factors which contribute to the practice of female infanticides,
including the dowry system which makes daughters “an unaffordable economic
burden”. To deal with this problem, many Indian families turn to selective
abortion of the female fetus (feticide).
Even more alarming, when the birth of the child is unavoidable, families
kill the babies by drowning, poison, suffocation, or deliberate negligence
leading to the death of the child. The reality is even more frightening:
globally 117 million girls demographically go missing due to selective
sex-abortions, and in India, every minute, 9 abortions of female fetuses
will take place. Furthermore, as a result of sex-abortions India ranked
number four among countries with the most skewed sex ratio at 112 males for
every 100 females.
Right to protection, and freedom of expression In India, a child has the right to be protected from neglect, exploitation,
and abuse at home and elsewhere. Children have the right to be protected
from the incidence of abuse, exploitation, violence, neglect,
commercial sexual exploitation, trafficking, child labour, and harmful
traditional practices to name a few. Yet according to a study conducted by
the government in 2007, more than 69% of children aged 5 to 18 years old are
victims of abuse. There are many who must face humiliation and violence
More than half of the abuses inflicted upon children are committed by a
close group of people who have a relationship of confidence and authority
with the child. In Indian families, parents have absolute authority over
their children. Furthermore, this strict discipline is also found in
academic areas, a study found that 65% of school-going children have faced
corporal punishment at the hands of academic staff.
A contributing factor to the neglect of children is a result of cultural
values which does not have high esteem and standing for the words and
opinions of children. As such, no Indian legislation specifically mentions
this right, and education focuses on the respect children must show to
To fully realize children right to protection, it is important to adopt a
different attitude towards children and their needs. It is also necessary to
invest in educating and training caregivers on children’s fundamental right
to protection, and prosecuting those who neglect it.
Despite the fact that the second article of the UN convention of the right
of the child ensures the right not to be discriminated against including
sexual orientation. Historically, in India, the LGBTQ+ community has been a
target of discrimination. Mainly, as a result of a 157-year old colonial-era
law (Section 377) which criminalizes certain sexual acts that are punishable
by a 10-year jail term. This law not only deprived LGBTQ+ children of their
fundamental rights, but subjects LGBTQ+ children and youth to bullying,
harassment, isolation, and violence.
In a historical decision, India’s Supreme Court has ruled that gay sex is no
longer a criminal offense, overturning a 2013 judgment which upheld the law
known as section 377. The court has now ruled discrimination on the basis
of sexual orientation is a fundamental violation of rights.
Further, the court asserted:
the state had no right to control the private lives of LGBT community
members and that the denial of the right to sexual orientation was the same
as denying the right to privacy”.
In India, this ruling represents a huge victory for the LGBTQ+ community,
and globally, serves as inspiration that change is possible for countries
which still criminalizes homosexuality.
Right Identity Another important factor for realizing children rights is realizing their
right to identity and registration. India suffers from one of the highest
non-registration rates for children in the world. Only 41% of births are
registered. There is a big urban-rural difference in registration with 59%
of urban children under five being registered versus only 35% in rural
areas. This leads to serious difficulties for these people because they
cannot benefit from child-sensitive social protection services and
programmes, as such are invisible in the eyes of society.
Problems Of Children in India
Child labourIn the last years, India has put efforts in programs to fight against
child labour. Major factors which contribute to this problem are the lack
of food, high poverty, as well as social and economic circumstances. Other
contributing factors include the lack of awareness about the harmful effects of
child labour, as well as the lack of access to basic and meaningful quality
education and skills training. A recent analysis of census data in the country
shows an overall decrease in child labour of only 2.2 percent yearly, over the
last 10 years. Also, it has revealed that child labour has grown by more than 50
percent in urban areas.
Children under 14 often work full days in hacking
cobbles stones, stitching shoes and footballs, rolling cigarettes and incense
sticks, embroidery work on clothing, crafts, packing, and sticking labels to
name a few. Child labour is often the result of adult unemployment or low
parental wages forcing children to contribute to home production.
Children forced in labour rather than education are not given the opportunity to
develop physically, intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically. India has
one of the youngest populations in the world, yet more than 42.7 million
children are out of school.
Child AbuseChild sexual abuse is a dark reality that is highly prevalent in India and
adversely impacts the health and wellbeing of children. Statistics show that
every 15 minutes one child is sexually abused. According to research, child sex
offenders can be distinguished into two groups. The first group account for
about 60% of officially known offenders and show no sexual preference disorder,
but who, for different reasons, sexually abuse children.
The other groups are
those showing a sexual preference disorder, namely pedophilia. Individual
factors such as poor socio-economic status, the death of a parent or husband,
and being born to a commercial sex worker are pathways to initiation into
commercial sex work. Early childhood experience because of sexual abuse was also
documented as a risk factor for re-victimization as well as initiation into
commercial sex work.
The lack of proper family support, family and personal
history of mental health pathologies, and family exposures to sexual images were
some of the other potential risk factors.
Moreover, the lack of sanitation and
poor safety of women were also found to be community-level factors which
increased the risks for sexual abuse. The health outcomes of child sexual abuse
can be grouped into mental health, physical health, behavioral, and
interpersonal. Children who experience sexual abuse have a high risk for
psychiatric disorders including obsessive-compulsive disorders, suicidal
behaviors, and depression.
Child MarriageIn India, there was a decline in the percentages of girls getting married under
the age of 16 as well as below 18 over the 20-year period 1992–2012. In
addition, the mean age at marriage is 16.6 years old. There is some evidence
from that child labour may in itself increase the risk of child marriage.
Furthermore, girls who married as children were less likely to have been
enrolled in secondary school. By the age of 15 years, only 40 percent of the
girls who were child brides continued to be enrolled in school, compared to 86
percent of the girls who were unmarried when they turned 18.
Not only India but the whole world has laid great emphasis on the development of
its children. The governments of all the countries are working at their level to
promote the childhood and mental development of children, just as the child gets
the right to live from the 20th week of pregnancy in India. Children are that
part of society which lacks social knowledge and awareness. Anyone can misuse
their innocence and put them in child abuse. They are the most vulnerable, hence
are most affected by the society which can destroy their childhood as well as
their life completely.
We have witnessed it many times in our society that some mentally unhealthy
parents put their child in a very deplorable situation due to their inability or
desire to work. These children don't get what they need or deserve and forcibly
work to feed themselves and their family. It is sometimes when children raise
their voice for what they need, but the society ignores them.
The child rights like the right to education, right to expression and right to
survive will yield them the power they should have to build a strong future for
them. Child Right is important to establish the foundation of a nation. All
children deserve equality, despite their difference. They are entitled to all of
these rights, no matter what race, colour, religion, language, ethnicity, gender
or abilities define them.