Sex with wife below 18 years is rape, rules SC; underlines girl’s right to choose

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Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Indian Penal Code, The Prohibition of Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), Juvenile Justice Act, The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, Article 15(3) of the Constitution, Criminal Procedure Code, National Family Health Survey

Mains level: Various aspects related to marital rape and their status in SC and HC’s


News

SC Judgement

  1. The Supreme Court has criminalized sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife who is under 18 years of age
  2. The decision applies to all faiths and is expected to act as a deterrent against child marriage, which, although prohibited under the law, is still prevalent in many parts of the country

Contradictory provisions

  1. Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code, which defines the offense of rape, has an exception clause that says intercourse or sexual act by a man with his wife, not below 15 years, is not rape
  2. However, the age of consent is 18 years

What SC said on these?

  1. SC Judges read down this exception arguing that it was inconsistent with other statutes dealing with children such as The Prohibition of Prevention of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), Juvenile Justice Act and The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act — all these have fixed the minimum age of the girl child for sexual relations at eighteen
  2. It was also contrary to the philosophy and ethos of Article 15(3) of the Constitution as well as contrary to Article 21 of the Constitution and our commitments in international conventions and to the philosophy behind some statutes, the bodily integrity of the girl child and her reproductive choice
  3. Child marriages not only violated human rights, it also affects the health of the child
  4. SC also pointed to the need for amending PCMA as a lot of child trafficking is taking place under the garb of marriage including child marriage

Will previous cases of child marriages/rape be reconsidered?

  1. The judgment will have “prospective effect” meaning it will not apply to past cases
  2. Cognizance of such offenses can be taken only in accordance with the provisions of section 198(6) of the Criminal Procedure Code
  3. The provision says that court shall not take cognizance of an offense under Section 376 IPC “if more than one year has elapsed from the date of commission of the offense”

Does this judgment apply to women above 18 years of age also?

  1. The SC bench clarified that it was not making any observation on “marital rape” of a woman who is 18 years of age and above as the issue was not before the court
  2. The question whether marital rape should be criminalized is pending before the Delhi High Court where the Centre has filed an affidavit opposing this saying that doing so may destabilize the institution of marriage apart from being an easy tool for harassing husbands

Statistics related to Child marriages/rape (Can be quoted in Mains)

  1. The National Family Health Survey-4, 2015-2016 found that at the time of carrying out the survey in 2014, amongst women in the age group of 20-24 years, almost 26.8% women were married before they attained the age of 18 years
  2. This means more than one out of 4 marriages was of a girl child
  3. A report based on the 2011 Census reveals a shocking aspect that girls below the age of 18 years are subjected to three times more marital rape as compared to the grown-up women

[op-ed snap] For The Children’s Sake

Image result for Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

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Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Mains level:  Should India join Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction? Critically comment


News

Context

  1. Child custody disputes that sometimes erupt when a marriage dissolves create challenging and disruptive environments for children
  2. 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, a vital international instrument that works to protect children from the harmful effects of international parental child abduction

Why should India  join the Hague convention?

  1. Disputes are resolved within months, allowing parents and children to move on with their lives.
  2. The Convention offers multiple safeguards to ensure that the rights of all parties are protected
  3. This begins with a focus on preventing parents from unilaterally removing children.
  4. The Convention encourages all parties to seek mutually acceptable child custody arrangements in accordance with the laws of the country they are living in.
  5. If a parent unilaterally removes the child to another country, the Hague Convention sets forth a process to resolve the issue.

Criticism

  1. Joining the Convention will force abuse victims to return to their abusers.
    • However, Article 13 of the Convention allows courts to decide not to return abducted children if the return would expose them to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place them in an intolerable situation.
  2. Further, many resources exist for victims of domestic violence in Convention countries.
    • Example, US laws criminalise domestic violence and protect all victims.
    • More than 10,000 American organisations and agencies provide support and services to victims of crime, and these services are available to people regardless of national origin or immigration status.

Back2basics

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

  1. It is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH) that provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another.
  2. The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983.
  3. The Convention was drafted to ensure the prompt return of children who have been abducted from their country of habitual residence or wrongfully retained in a contracting state not their country of habitual residence.
  4. Recently, US has urged India to join the ‘Hague Abduction Convention’ to create a more effective response to deal with such cases.
  5. Almost a hundred children born to Indian-American couples are facing an uncertain future due to the trauma of separation of their parents and the complex legal issues involved

 

Healthy children build healthy nations I

  1. Source: Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Prize laureate
  2. Issue: India is home to the largest child population in the world. A substantial 41%, around 450 million, are children
  3. But for their education, health and protection a paltry 4% of the gross domestic product (GDP) is being spent
  4. On health, it has been observed that among the general category of patients in public hospitals, about 70% were once child labourers
  5. By letting manufacturers exploit them as inexpensive labour, the government is inheriting an army of sick and invalid persons in the years to come

Healthy children build healthy nations II

  1. Future problems: The working children of today are virtually the liabilities of tomorrow
  2. A large portion of the government’s budgetary allocation will have to be accorded for health care and reparations in the foreseeable future
  3. This will have a crippling effect on the development agenda
  4. The health indicators of children in India are among the worst in the world with only 65.3% of the under-five children fully immunised
  5. 80% of the children under three years of age are anaemic and every 3 out of 5 children are malnourished

Healthy children build healthy nations III

  1. Suggestions: The Ministry of Health needs to forge stronger partnerships with the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Labour, Education, and other agents involved with children
  2. Warranted within the law should be a provision for treatment of poor children at zero cost at all hospitals
  3. Schools should facilitate regular health check-ups, vaccination programmes and provide easy medical access to students
  4. One of the most powerful preventive measures to ensure a long and healthy life for children is immunisation

Law Commission suggests changes in govt. draft Bill on child abduction II

  1. According to the Commission: The principles of best interest of the child can be found in the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which came into force on September 2, 1990
  2. And also the Preamble and object of the Hague Convention, 1980
  3. Previous recommendation: The Law Commission had, in its 218th report, examined the same issues
  4. It had advised the government to sign the Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Law Commission suggests changes in govt. draft Bill on child abduction I

  1. 21st Law Commission in its first report has recommended a series of changes in the draft Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill-2016
  2. The changes included one-year jail term for wrongful retention or removal of a child from the custody of a parent
  3. The Bill has been proposed by the Women and Child Development Ministry.
  4. The Commission is of the opinion that the present Bill needs revision to suitably harmonise its provisions with the Hague Convention

Idea behind online portal for child abuse

  1. The children are confounded as they do not know about whom to approach to lodge a complaint
  2. The idea is to reach out to every child victim of sexual abuse and extend help under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 and ensure that the abuse does not continue
  3. Facts: It has been found that most offenders were close relatives or acquaintances who repeated the offences over a period of time affecting the psyche of a child for the entire life
  4. In India, about 53% of children surveyed had admitted to facing one or the other form of sexual abuse in a survey conducted in 2007

Now, children can report sexual abuse online

  1. Maharashtra Govt has asked schools to circulate information about an online complaint lodging system
  2. It is developed by the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights against child sexual abuse
  3. On the website of www.ncpcr.gov.in, the government has started a POCSO e-box, which could be clicked to lodge a direct complaint about abuse
  4. A child need not explain what she/he went through
  5. The task has been made simple by just clicking one of the pictures on the site, to express the kind of abuse faced

Hotline to curb child pornography

  1. The country’s first-ever hotline to curb sexual abuse of children through the Internet and to remove child pornographic content online is set to be unveiled soon
  2. Aarambh Initiative, a network of organisations and individuals working on child protection in the country, has collaborated with the U.K.-based Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which is an industry watchdog and is the most successful hotline in the world at removing child pornography
  3. The hotline in India will be hosted on aarambhindia.org and will enable users to report child sexual abuse images and videos in a safe and anonymous environment
  4. While the hotline will initially be in English and Hindi, it will be available in 22 regional languages

Way ahead: UNICEF

  1. UNICEF urged authorities to end the detention of children migrating or seeking refugee status, abstain from separating families
  2. Also, allow child refugees and migrants access to health services and to promote measure that combat xenophobia, discrimination and marginalization
  3. It will take up the issue of migration in two late-September meetings on the sidelines of this year’s U.N. General Assembly
  4. Would like to see some clear commitments and practical measures
  5. The burden sharing of this crisis is not fair: the greatest burden is supported by neighboring countries or the poorest countries
  6. Upcoming summits are not enough to solve the problem, but they remain critical
  7. It is a chance to get the world to look at this crisis

Child refugees: UNICEF

  1. Children are also increasingly crossing borders on their own
  2. More than 100,000 unaccompanied minors applied for asylum in 78 countries last year, tripling 2014’s numbers
  3. Children also account for a disproportionate and growing proportion of people seeking refuge outside their birth countries
  4. Children make up about a third of the world’s population but about half of all refugees
  5. In 2015, about 45 per cent of child refugees under the U.N. refugee agency’s care came from Syria and Afghanistan

Nearly 50 million children ‘uprooted’ worldwide: UNICEF

  1. Uprooted: Forcibly displaced from their home countries by war, violence or persecution
  2. 28 million of these children were displaced by violence and conflict, including 10 million child refugees
  3. There were also one million asylum seekers whose refugee status is pending
  4. Also, approximately 17 million children displaced within their own countries lacking access to humanitarian aid and critical services
  5. Some 20 million other children have left their homes for various reasons including gang violence or extreme poverty
  6. Many are at particular risk of abuse and detention because they have no documentation, have uncertain legal status, and there is no systematic tracking and monitoring of their well-being — children falling through the cracks

Bengal has most cases of missing children

  1. Context: Data released by the National Crime Records Bureau
  2. West Bengal has largest number of missing children in the country
  3. It contributes 21% of total missing children from country
  4. Also 70 per cent of the children who went missing from West Bengal in 2014 were girls & many of the victims were forced into the sex trade
  5. West Bengal is followed by Maharashtra

Rajasthan HC notice to govt. on death of infants

  1. Context: A public interest litigation petition was filed in the Rajasthan High Court on death of infants
  2. Issue: The recent death of 16 newborn babies in Ajmer’s Jawaharlal Nehru Government Hospital
  3. Petitioner claims 165 babies had died in the hospital in the past six months because of negligence
  4. Reason: Negligence of doctors and paramedical staff
  5. The JLN Hospital has appointed a three-member committee to probe the deaths and to conduct ‘death audits’ of infants

Central nodal agency to curb human trafficking planned

  1. Context: Union govt.’s campaign to rescue and rehabilitate those trafficked
  2. The news: Union govt has decided to set up a central nodal agency to strengthen the fight against human trafficking
  3. Challenge: Siliguri and N-E India are vulnerable to trafficking due to distress in tea gardens
  4. Initiatives: Operation Smile and Operation Muskaan have rescued/rehabilitated large number of children
  5. Future: An inter-State co-ordination will go a long way in curbing trafficking

SC wants separate law to deal with child rape

  1. The SC said that crimes against children was an indication of the abysmal depths to which society is falling.
  2. Rape of infants and children below 10 years was nothing but brutal perversion.
  3. It asked Parliament to enact a separate law providing for harsh punishment.
  4. Increasing instances of rape of children have caused alarm among all sections of society.
  5. This is the first time the SC has distinguished infants and children below 10 from the general description of “minors” given by law to anyone below the age of 18.

Ministry of Women and Child Development launches e-office

  1. Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has introduced e-office, an initiative which will help provide efficient services to people by digitizing more than 12,000 files.
  2. It was formally launched on the lines with the spirit of Good Governance initiative of Union Government.
  3. Various modules of this e-office are Knowledge Management System, File Management System, Leave Management System and Tour Management System.
  4. The e-office will result in substantial decrease of processing time which will directly affect the delivery mechanism of the WCD Ministry.

How Operation Smile will rescue children?

  1. The trained police personnel will screen all children residing in shelter homes, platforms, bus stands, roads, religious places, etc.
  2. During the operation, the particulars of such identified children will be uploaded on the ‘Missing child‘ portal.
  3. Govt. will recognize and reward policemen, in order to motivate them to take up such causes with sincerity and empathy.
  4. Govt. has also laid emphasis on public awareness by way of national campaign, advertisement on national media, etc.

To put an end to abuse of children, HC suggests castration of rapists

  1. Madras HC has suggested that the Central govt. consider castration as an additional form of punishment for child sex abusers.
  2. This is in backdrop of recent happenings of horrible blood-curdling gang rapes of children in various parts of India.
  3. The judge said that though the suggestion of castration looks barbaric, barbaric crimes should definitely attract barbaric models of punishment.

Operation Vatsalya to trace missing children


 

  1. Operation Vatsalya, an intensive programme organised jointly by the police and Social Justice Departments to trace missing or abandoned children, has been launched in Wayanad district.
  2. The project was launched in the State following the success of Operation Smile, a similar project implemented in Ghaziabad.
  3. It will visit orphanages, children’s homes and other places in the district where missing children from other districts find refuge from October 2 to October 30.
  4. Once such children are identified, they will be produced before the District Child Welfare Committee and efforts will be made to find their parents.


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