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  • Writer's pictureChild Rights Centre, CNLU

Rights in Crisis: Children and Women in India

By Rishika Verma* & Anik Majumder**

 

The second wave of COVID-19 wreaked devastation throughout India, with a peak of over 400,000 cases being recorded at one point in time, leading to a countless number of families losing their loved ones. According to reports, The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights informed the Supreme Court that the pandemic had led to orphaning of 1,742 kids, along with which at least 140 were deserted, and 7,464 kids had lost at least one parent. The majority of these kids are from weaker sections and therefore lack a guardian that would look after their necessities. Bihar recorded 1,327 such instances. COVID-19, in actuality, has the potential to undo most of the gains in the world of gender equality that advocates for the same cause have spent their entire careers looking into.


Considering the ephemerality of the viruses’ impact as well as the time period it would persist, including the ecosystem's fledgling insight of just how beneficial or efficient the approach has been, it is critical to consider COVID-19's protracted influence on the women in India. According to some assessments, its protracted consequences may be severe enough to reverse decades of progress towards women's empowerment across the globe, seeing as, in a frenzy to handle the growing public safety emergency, numerous countries neglected preparation of responses with gender in mind.


The pandemic has had a protracted influence on mental well-being. It, therefore, has led to a rise in the occurrence of repressive gender bias expressions like abuse against women. The National Commission for Women has reported a twofold increase in domestic abuse claims while women and children seek safety from their abusers; the elimination in work for women holding a bulk of unstable, unorganised, and low-paying jobs; along with the danger taken by nurses are overwhelmingly female. Almost 83 per cent of such frontline employees remain to be female nurses who have been risking their lives on a routine basis.


Nevertheless, numerous households with such victims of domestic violence, involving both women and children, do not always feel secure in their own homes. The virus has wreaked havoc on the economy. It has cut countless people from social services and help networks, sparking tremendous fear and terror. Similar circumstances might potentially encourage aggression within households where it did not initially exist, as well as aggravate circumstances in households where maltreatment and aggression were a norm. Furthermore, although the orphans of the virus have grabbed national attention, India's kids are secretly subjected to a slew of additional threats, notably starvation, school dropout, child marriage, and child prostitution. Children represent society's most fragile demographic. Since they are reliant upon others, exercise the lowest amount of power, and hold almost no influence within their lives.


Any infringement of the laws would be considered a crime. Teenagers get confronted with law enforcement authorities as they are being charged for the crimes committed by them. Boys or girls under 18 who have been charged with the crime are imprisoned under the framework of juvenile justice in India.


Throughout every district within the country, a Juvenile Justice Board has been established that exercises authorities and performs tasks pertaining to juveniles/children facing a dispute with legal authorities. The Juvenile Justice Board typically conducts a primary investigation to decide if a juvenile offender should have been transported into rehabilitation or be prosecuted as a person with the age of majority. Likewise, the Child Welfare Committee deals with youngsters that are "in need of care or protection," that is, youngsters who are from disadvantaged or marginalised areas of the social system, including the ones with specific requirements or weaknesses; it aims to determine organisational treatment as well as rehabilitative services for youngsters that require safety and security.

The Indian Juvenile Justice System has been based upon the Constitutional mandates of Articles {15(3), 39 (e) & (f), 45 and 47}[1], and various regional and global stipulations such as the 'United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child' or the 'United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice'. Throughout India, everyone under the age of eighteen is referred to as “a child." The Juvenile Justice system considers its legislative approach aiming at two aspects of the minor participants: minors who are "in violation law" and minors that" lack safety as well as treatment."


The revised legislation enhances its juvenile justice system's precautionary stance concerning minors in dispute with legal authorities and youngsters who require support and assistance. The Juvenile Justice Act of 2015 reclassified the "Juvenile" in violation of legal authorities as a "child in conflict with law" Minor, severe, and egregious acts have also been classified. During the initial examination by the Juvenile Justice Board, minor's aged between sixteen and eighteen might be prosecuted as adults in situations of severe crimes. The State Government could, through a notification in the Official Gazette, establish more than one Child Welfare Committees at each constituency or district as specified within the notice to exercise the authority granted through this Law concerning minors who need safety or protection. Child Welfare Committees is essentially created for evaluating allegations concerning juvenile abuse or minors who are likely to be hurt as well as to seek assistance.

Child welfare committees at every constituency are vital for the development of a child-friendly society. A juvenile in need of safety and protection is frequently brought before child welfare committees seeking relocation in some kind of a safe setting. This Committee does have an ultimate say in issues involving rehabilitation, development, and treatment of minors, including the availability of necessities including protection of human rights.


Based upon the National Crime Records Bureau's latest Report, Bihar possesses quite a significant prevalence of child trafficking with the frequency of more than once a day, thereby making it amongst the nation’s deadliest. Based on the National Crime Records Bureau, Bihar finished third in 2017[2], right after Rajasthan & West Bengal, with 362 minor boys and 33 minor girls being rescued from the hands of traffickers.


Slave labour, as well as human trafficking, wreaks havoc on the state's poorest and vulnerable households. Most of these individuals are one's experiencing a lack of social stability; a majority of these individuals engage in daily pay labour and seasonal agriculture work. Throughout the vast majority of situations, parents voluntarily push their kids forth into work. In fact, without a proper rehabilitative strategy, minors who end up being rescued and sent home are all at risk of being targeted repeatedly. The government's reply period remains inordinately long. It will save many if all young kids who are at risk of being trafficked are recognised at the grassroots with the help of the child protection committee.


Orphaned youngsters are a rapidly expanding portion of the society that legislators continue to overlook. It is indeed necessary to analyse and diagnose psychological issues in such confined youngsters to develop appropriate management strategies keeping them in mind at the appropriate time. So as to determine what services and amenities improve child welfare, iterative method research should be undertaken in areas affected by the pandemic.


Youngsters are highly susceptible, and one single traumatic experience involving any maltreatment can significantly affect them. Gender-based abuse has been on the rise as the COVID-19 virus continues to cause more and more economical and social hardship, along with restrictions on travel accompanied by alienation. Countless females are now compelled to work around their households while accompanying their perpetrators while programmes to help victims continue to be interrupted or deemed unavailable. COVID-19 is particularly tough upon women since the Indian economy is also particularly tough upon women. At the same time, the virus specialises in escalating pre-existing conflicts.


Minor's, as well as human rights, need to be specifically tailored for the concerns, desires, and general well-being of youngsters. Authorities need to consider their vulnerability, unique characteristics, including age-appropriate needs. Child rights attempt to reflect the importance of a youngster's upbringing accurately. Human rights arise because they guarantee that individuals are treated fairly and efficiently throughout the globe so as to enhance their quality of life. However, the rights of a minor go further than that. Owing to some special demands arising from particular weaknesses, minors, regarded as anyone below the age of eighteen, require more than merely human rights.


It is simply impossible not to emphasise the importance of families or guardians and friends in the administration and the fulfilment of minor's rights. Initiatives within the field of rights of minors are almost entirely focused upon changing national policies and amending legislation, with little regard for social structures. Giving minors human rights alone is not enough. They must understand their rights and how to seek assistance when in danger. Minors should be informed of their rights and how to exercise them through social awareness programmes, as well as counselling.


References

[1] THE JUVENILE JUSTICE (CARE AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN) ACT, 2015. NO. 2 OF 2016 [2] National Crime Records Bureau Statistics Volume I



 

*/** 2nd-year students at Symbiosis Law School, Noida

 

(Disclaimer- The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Child Rights Centre.)

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1 Comment


Muskan
Muskan
Sep 13, 2021

Appreciate the critical analysis done by the authors! They have meticulously looked into the aspects of Child Rights, under the lens of Covid-19. Kudos to them!

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