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Gender bias caused ‘excess’ deaths of girls under 5: Lancet study

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Skewed Sex Ratio, U5 Mortality in India

Mains level: Increasing concerns due to male child preferences in society and its impacts


News

Highlights of Lancet Global Health Journal

  1. There have been 2,39,000 “excess deaths” per year of girls under the age of five in India, and 29 out of
    35 States contributed to this mortality, according to a study in the online, open access, peer-reviewed
    journal
  2. That works out to about 2.4 million deaths in a decade, and the additional deaths were found in 90% of
    districts in the country
  3. Around 22% of the overall mortality burden of under-five females is therefore due to gender bias
  4. Excess mortality is the difference between observed and expected mortality rates in both genders

Issue of Concern

  1. The worst affected areas were all rural, agricultural areas with lower levels of education, high population
    densities, low socio-economic development and high levels of fertility
  2. Many deaths of females under five are partly due to unwanted childbearing and subsequent neglect
  3. The sustained fertility decline currently observed in north India is likely to lead to a reduction in
    postnatal discrimination
  4. Unless son preference diminishes, lower fertility, however, might bring about a rise in gender-biased sex selection as was observed 20 years ago in western India

Inter-country child abduction: Central panel questions key principle of Hague Convention

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: IR | Effect of policies & politics of developed & developing countries on India’s interests, Indian diaspora

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee

Mains level: Legislations and safeguards in India for child safety and their impact


News

Questioning basic principles of the Hague Convention

  1. A committee set up by the Centre to prepare a report on the issue of inter-country parental child abduction has questioned one of the basic principles of the Hague Convention
  2. The committee has argued that the return of the child to his or her habitual residence may not necessarily be in the best interest of the child
  3. There is immense pressure on India from the U.S. to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee recommendations

  1. The Justice Rajesh Bindal Committee was set up last year to suggest a model legislation to safeguard the interest of the child as well those of the parents when an NRI (Non-Resident Indian) marriage goes sour and one of the parents flees from one country to another with the child
  2. It recommended that returning a child to the place of habitual residence may result in sending the child to an inharmonious set-up as well as overlook the fact that a mother is the primary caregiver of the child
  3. The panel has also prepared a draft law to safeguard the interest of the children, as well as those of the parents, particularly mothers

Proposed legislation

  1. The proposed legislation lays various exceptions under which a child will not be returned to the country of habitual residence which are:
  • the best interest of the child
  • domestic violence or mental or physical cruelty
  • harassment against the parent who fled with the child
  • the parent claiming the return of the child was not exercising the custody rights at the time of removal
  • if there is a grave risk that the child would be exposed to physical or psychological harm

Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority

  1. The report also requires the setting up of an Inter-Country Parental Child Removal Disputes Resolution Authority
  2. It will be the nodal body to:
  • decide on the custody of the child
  • mediate between the warring parties
  • order the return of the child to the country of habitual residence

Back2Basics

Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

  1. Hague Abduction Convention 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 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
  3. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16
  4. The Convention requires that a court in which a Hague Convention action is filed should not consider the merits of any underlying child custody dispute, but should determine only that country in which those issues should be heard
  5. The Convention mandates return of any child who was “habitually resident” in a contracting nation immediately before an action that constitutes a breach of custody or access rights
  6. The Convention provides special rules for admission and consideration of evidence independent of the evidentiary standards set by any member nation
  7. The Convention was concluded 25 October 1980 and entered into force between the signatories on 1 December 1983

Death for rapists of minors: Centre to move amendment to make POCSO Act gender-neutral

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: POCSO Act, Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code

Mains level: Vulnerability of children against sexual offenses and security measures that can be taken


News

Ensuring equal justice

  1. A formal amendment to the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO Act) making death sentence gender neutral is being moved
  2. The Centre will amend the POCSO Act to provide death sentence for rape of boys under the age of 12
  3. There will be same punishment as that for the rape of girls in this age bracket

IPC amendment

  1. The ordinance promulgated for POCSO amendment seeks to amend Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code to enhance the punishment of rape and gangrape of minors under two different age groups – “woman” under 12 years and 16 years

President nod to ordinance providing death penalty for rape of girls below 12

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Powers of the president to promulgate ordinance

Mains level: Role of government in ensuring women & child safety


News

Curbing child rapes

  1. President has given his assent to an Ordinance permitting the death penalty for those convicted of raping girls below the age of 12 years
  2. The Ordinance provides for death sentence, imprisonment for life or a minimum sentence of 20 years for the rape of a child below 12 years

Provisions for speedy trials & conviction

  1. The Ordinance provides that investigation of all cases of rape shall be completed within two months
  2.  A six-month time limit for the disposal of appeals in rape cases has also been prescribed
  3. The sentence for the rape of a girl below 16 would be a minimum of 20 years but extendible to life imprisonment, while that for gang- rape of a girl below 16 would be imprisonment for life

Child rights body warns media against identification of a minor victim

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Juvenile Justice Act, 2015

Mains level: Abuse of child rights and ways to ensure proper implementation


News

Violations of rules by media outlets

  1. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has issued a notice warning media houses
  2. This was done after violations by media outlets of rules that prohibit identification of a minor victim
  3. The offense is punishable with imprisonment of up to six months and/or a fine of up to Rs 2 lakh under the JJ Act 2015

Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015

  1. Publication of photographs of rape victims or sexually-abused children is prohibited under section 74 (1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015
  2. JJ Act 2015 applies to even deceased minors

Back2Basics

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)

  1. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005, an Act of Parliament
  2. NCPCR is a statutory body under the CPCR Act,2005 under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development, Government of India
  3. The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  4. The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group

NCRB to collate data on online child sexual abuse

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NCRB, IT Act, CCTNS, Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children

Mains level: Rising threat of cybercrimes against children


News

Data on online child sexual abuse

  1. In a first, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has started collating data on online child sexual abuse in the country
  2. Till now no repository of such crimes was available at the national level

Under-reporting of crimes

  1. The move comes after a parliamentary standing committee on home affairs pulled up officials for not reporting the cases
  2. There was severe under-reporting of crimes related to online child sex abuse in India
  3. NCRB was collecting data on cases registered under Section 67B of IT Act (publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in a sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form, on annual basis)

Separate mechanism for data collection

  1. The panel recommended that starting 2017, NCRB should collate all the instances of online child sex abuse and other cyber crimes against children under a separate category
  2. After the parliamentary panel’s observations, NCRB has started segregating the data where children have been abused online

Other initiatives to control child abuse

  1. The home ministry informed the panel that the Crime & Criminal Tracking Network & System (CCTNS), once operational, will generate details with regard to child victims reported under cyber crimes
  2. The home ministry said that it has approved a Central Sector Project, namely Cyber Crime Prevention Against Women and Children (CCPWC)
  3. It will set up online cybercrime reporting platform, a national level advanced cyber forensic laboratory and provide support to 36 states and Union Territories for police training institutions

Back2Basics

Crime & Criminal Tracking Network & System (CCTNS)

  1. CCTNS is a project under Indian government for creating a comprehensive and integrated system for effective policing through e-Governance
  2. The system includes nationwide online tracking system by integrating more than 14,000 police stations across the country
  3. The project is implemented by National Crime Records Bureau
  4. CCTNS aims to integrate all the data and records of crime into a Core Application Software (CAS), which is presently spreading across 29 states and 7 union territories of India
  5. The project also involves training of police personnel and setting up of citizen portal to provide services to citizens

India’s child marriage numbers drop sharply, driving down global rate, says UNICEF

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UNICEF, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals

Mains level: Rising awareness regarding child marriages in India


News

Decline in child marriages 

  1. The proportion of girls getting married at an early age in India has nearly halved in a decade
  2. This has contributed significantly to a global decline in child marriage
  3. This was revealed in the recent report of United Nations children’s agency UNICEF
  4. UNICEF’s conclusions on India came after comparing data from its 2006 and 2016 health survey

Effects of child marriage

  1. Child marriage adds to health, education and abuse risks
  2. It increases the chance of intergenerational poverty

Why drop in the number of child marriages?

  1. Better access to education for women
  2. Increased public awareness on the negative impact of child marriage

Provisions related to child marriage

  1. The legal age of marriage in India is 18 for women and 21 for men
  2. Last year the Supreme Court ruled that sex with an underage wife constituted rape
  3. India’s Prohibition of Child Marriage Act imposes a fine of ₹1,00,000 and two years in prison for parents caught trying to marry off their underage children

Child marriages across the world

  1. UNICEF estimates that 12 million girls a year are married globally at a small age
  2. Under the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals a  target is set to end the practice by 2030

Back2Basics

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

  1. It is a United Nations (UN) programme headquartered in New York City
  2. It provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and mothers in developing countries
  3. It is a member of the United Nations Development Group
  4. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly on the 11th of December 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II
  5. In 1950, UNICEF’s mandate was extended to address the long-term needs of children and women in developing countries everywhere
  6. UNICEF relies on contributions from governments and private donors
  7. UNICEF’s programs emphasize developing community-level services to promote the health and well-being of children

What is the Kuthiyottam ritual and why is it in the news?

Image source

Note4students

Mains Paper 1: Arts & Culture | All syllabus

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kuthiyottam ritual, Pongala festival

Mains level: Violation of women and child rights across religious institutions


News

Complaint registered in connection with the Kuthiyottam ritual

  1. The Kerala State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights has registered a suo moto case in connection with the Kuthiyottam ritual
  2. The commission would examine if the ritual, reportedly involving piercing children’s sides with a hook, violated child rights in any manner

What is the Pongala festival?

  1. The Kuthiyottam ritual is usually performed every year during the Pongala festival at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
  2. Pongal, which means ‘to boil over’, is a ritual in which women prepare a pudding made from rice, jaggery, coconut and plantains cooked together, and offer it to the goddess
  3. The ritual can only be performed by women
  4. The Attukal Pongala festival is the largest congregation of women for a festival in the world

What does the Kuthiyottam ritual involve?

  1. Nearly 1,000 young boys undertake a seven-day penance before Pongala day
  2. These boys are said to represent the wounded soldiers of the goddess
  3. The boys have to observe strict discipline and stay inside the temple for seven days
  4. The rigors include sleeping on the floor, strict diet restrictions, and bathing three times a day
  5. They also have to prostrate 1,008 times before the deity
  6. The ritual reportedly involves piercing the child’s side with a small hook and knotting a thread through it to symbolize their bond with the Goddess

[op-ed snap] Halving the syllabus, squaring knowledge

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Burgeoning school level curriculum and need for its reduction


Context

Government’s plan to halve NCERT syllabus 

  1. In a bid to provide relief to school students, the NCERT syllabus will be reduced by half from the 2019 academic session
  2. This is being done so that students get time for other activities for their all-round development

Bringing back examinations

  1. Government plans to bring back the system of “detention and examinations” in lower classes
  2. Scrapping of exams was done under the impression that the sight of lighter school bags and an exam-free childhood would miraculously output happier children

View of judiciary on this matter

  1. The Bombay High Court, last June, suggested that mathematics be made an optional for 10th standard students as lots of students were failing them and those in arts programmes didn’t need maths in their programmes

Inference

  1. An enormous workload is the cause of stress among schoolchildren
  2. Halving the syllabus would translate into fewer hours of coursework and cramming

Research related to academic anxiety

  1. There’s a research to show that academic anxiety, the attendant stress, and the volume of course load are disconnected
  2. While schoolwork induced “negative subjective states”, those who spent more time in leisure activities noted feeling happier but also registered “higher academic anxiety and lower scholastic achievement”

Why syllabus would never reduce

  1. The global economy is geared towards knowledge production
  2. New discoveries and the re-interpretation of old knowledge continuously filter their way from research papers to graduate level dissertations to undergraduate curricula and eventually school textbooks

Way forward

  1. In the age of the Web, the ability to memorize facts is a vestigial skill
  2. Given that knowledge is so much more contested and multi-faceted, it stands to reason that school students need to be trained to apply facts to real-world problems
  3. They should be evaluated in their abilities to critique, seek out information and produce knowledge of their own

Govt. not for noose for child abusers, rapists and paedophiles

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: POCSO Act

Mains level: Rising cases of sexual assault against children and ways to reduce them


News

Death penalty is not an answer for everything

  1. The Union government has expressed its objection to prescribing the noose (death penalty) for child abusers, rapists and paedophiles
  2. The government was responding to a public interest litigation which asks to change the punishment for a child rapist to the death penalty

Current provisions

  1. The POCSO Act classifies child abuse into sexual harassment, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault
  2. The law metes out varying levels of punishment for each crime against children
  3. For child harassment, it is imprisonment of up to three years, five years’ imprisonment for sexual assault and 10 years to life imprisonment for aggravated sexual assault

Pendency of POCSO cases

  1. The court has initiated a review of the pendency of cases currently under the POCSO Act
  2. It decided to look into the larger issue of disposal of POCSO cases within a prescribed deadline and strict punishment
  3. The POCSO Act calls for the setting up of special courts to fast-track trial in cases of child assault

Crackdown on child porn, rape videos with ISP norms, portal

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hash value, Information Technology Act, 2000

Mains level: Child pornography and measures to deal with this problem


News

Centralised reporting of complaints against child pornography and rape videos

  1. The Union Home Ministry will issue guidelines for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and set up an online portal by next month for centralized reporting of complaints against child pornography and rape videos
  2. The move follows directions from the Supreme Court on setting up such a portal by January 10
  3. The Home Ministry is also expected to write to DGPs/IGs of all states and Union Territories, directing them to ensure reporting of such videos on social media or other online platforms

How will this be done?

  1. Ministry will generate a hash value (a code) of all such videos and child sexual abuse material and share it with the content service provider, which will be used to identify such videos online
  2. A list of 500 keywords used in searching for such videos has also been compiled and will be shared with the ISPs, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, WhatsApp and Microsoft
  3. The Home Ministry has also sanctioned Rs 80 crore for setting up forensic labs in all states and Union Territories for Cyber Crime Prevention against Women and Child (CCPWC)

Changes sought in rules by states

  1. The states urged the Centre to bring amendments to the Information Technology Act, 2000 and authorise a sub-inspector (SI)-level officer to investigate such cases
  2. At present, only an inspector-level officer can investigate IT-related offences

Suggestions by expert committee

  1. Committee was headed by Ajay Kumar, then additional secretary, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology
  2. It suggested that the government must ensure that Search Engines other than those already implementing URL blocks for identified child porn/rape and gang rape content initiate similar processes
  3. Internet companies should consider providing support to Indian NGOs to help bring awareness
  4. WhatsApp should make further improvement in their reporting process
  5. This would enable easier reporting of contents in the app while maintaining the integrity of the contents and metadata available on phone at the time of reporting
  6. Content hosting platforms, social media platforms, and search engines should provide links for reporting child porn and rape imagery as a specific category, which must be more prominently displayed on their pages

Solution of the problem

  1. The solution lay in proactively identifying rogue sites by an independent agency which can identify sites that contains child porn and rape and gang rape content and blocking these sites
  2. To prevent the circulation of subject imagery, the government can block any additional sites/applications if they do not remove such contents of their own

Courts can turn down child repatriation, says Supreme Court

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Polity | Structure, organization & functioning of the Executive & the Judiciary

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Hague Convention of “The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”

Mains level: Child rights and various provisions related to it


News

Indian courts can deny repatriation of children

  1. A Supreme Court judgment accorded courts in India unlimited discretion to determine which parent should have the custody of minor children involved in international parental child abduction
  2. The verdict holds that Indian courts can decline the relief of repatriation of a child to the parent living abroad even if a foreign court, located in the country from where the child was removed, has already passed orders for the child’s repatriation

Reason behind the judgement

  1. SC bench held that the welfare of the child was the “paramount and predominant” consideration when such a case came up before the court
  2. Also, India was not a signatory to the Hague Convention of “The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”
  3. The principle of comity of courts is not to be accorded a yielding primacy or dominance over the welfare and well-being of the child

Back2Basics

Hague Convention of “The Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction”

  1. It is a multilateral treaty developed by the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH)
  2. It provides an expeditious method to return a child internationally abducted by a parent from one member country to another
  3. The primary intention of the Convention is to preserve whatever status quo child custody arrangement existed immediately before an alleged wrongful removal or retention thereby deterring a parent from crossing international boundaries in search of a more sympathetic court
  4. The Convention applies only to children under the age of 16
  5. The Convention does not alter any substantive rights
  6. The Convention requires that a court in which a Hague Convention action is filed should not consider the merits of any underlying child custody dispute, but should determine only that country in which those issues should be heard

Finalising policy against drug abuse, govt. tells SC

Note4students

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

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: New Education Policy, Fundamental rights

Mains level: Policies related to children


News

National Policy on Drug Demand Reduction

  1. The Centre informed the Supreme Court that it is finalising a National Policy on Drug Demand Reduction to combat the rising menace of drug and alcohol abuse, especially among children
  2. 18 States have responded to an advisory sent by the Centre to formulate an action plan for combating drug abuse

Survey being conducted

  1. The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre under the All India Institute of Medical Sciences is conducting a national survey on the extent and pattern of substance use
  2. The December 14, 2016 judgment of the Supreme Court ordered the Centre to complete within six months a national survey and generate a national database on substance abuse

Make it a part of school curriculum

  1. The court had said the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco abuse among children should be made a specific content in the school curriculum under the aegis of New Education Policy proposed by the Centre
  2. The verdict quotes from the Census 2011 that 24 crore children, constituting 24% of the population of the country, are adolescent
  3. They constitute a vulnerable age group for social, educational, moral and physical development
  4. Protecting children from wide-spread prevalence of substance abuse is one of the biggest policy challenges facing India

About the judgment

  1. The December 2016 judgment was based on a petition filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan highlighting that the fundamental rights of children, especially those suffering from and involved in substance use and abuse, were violated
  2. This was due to non-compliance with the government’s action plan for reduction in drug demand and supply

WHO releases guidelines on responding to child sex abuse

Image source

Note4students

 Mains Paper 2: mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WHO, IAP

Mains level: Child sexual abuse and how to prevent it


News

Recommendations to be followed by frontline healthcare providers

  1. The World Health Organisation has formulated clinical guidelines on responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused
  2. The guidelines put forward recommendations for the frontline health care providers — general practitioners, gynaecologists, paediatricians, nurses and others — who may directly receive a victim of sexual abuse or may identify sexual abuse during the course of diagnosis and treatment

More than just guidelines required

  1. The victims and their families face the worse in terms of investigation and its outcome
  2. The government needs to adopt a policy that will streamline all the other aspects as well

Other such initiatives

  1. In 2010, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) released similar guidelines on ‘recommendations on recognition and response to child abuse and neglect in the Indian setting

Similarity between the two guidelines

  1. Like the IAP guidelines, the new WHO guidelines too focus on the recommendations and good practice suggestions
  2. This is in terms of disclosure made by the child, obtaining medical history, conducting physical examinations and forensic investigations, documenting findings, offering preventive treatment for HIV post exposure, pregnancy prevention, and other sexually transmitted diseases, psychological and mental health interventions

Health impacts of child sexual abuse

  1. The guidelines highlight that child sexual abuse has a short-term as well as long-term mental health impact
  2. These may be lifetime diagnosis of post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression, externalising symptoms, eating disorders, problems with relationships, sleep disorders and suicidal and self-harm ideation and behaviours
  3. Health consequences of the abuse include the risk of pregnancy, gynaecological disorders such as chronic non-cyclical pelvic pain, menstrual irregularities, painful periods, genital infections and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV

[op-ed snap] Complete the justice

Image source

Note4students

 Mains Paper 2: mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternal, neonatal and infant mortality, National Family and Health Survey-4, National Plan of Action for Children, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, Muslim Personal Law

Mains level: Law preventing child marriage has been in place since 1929 bu the problem still persists all over India- reasons? measures that can be adopted to curb this menace


Context

  1. Supreme Court recently gave a judgment making sex with a girl between 15 and 18 years even within marriage a criminal offense
  2. In its order, the apex court said that it is removing the distinction between an unmarried and married child

Consequences of the judgment

  1. The immediate consequence of this order will be for proponents of child marriage who take cover under the garb of “tradition” and “belief”
  • They will now face a severe deterrent
  • At last count, there were 23 million child brides, with approximately 30 per cent of marriages in 2016 being child marriages
  • A child bride is often bought by old men looking for sexual and domestic servitude
  • The court has snatched away one of the primary motives for child marriage by making it criminal to have sex with child brides

2. A major consequence of this judgment is also its potential towards reducing India’s burden of maternal and infant mortality

  • There is a close causative link between child marriage and maternal, neonatal and infant mortality along with stunting and malnutrition
  • Early marriage generally leads to early pregnancy
  • A child’s body is not adequately prepared for pregnancy or child birth, and risks to both the mother and infant’s survival are much higher
  • Underweight mothers tend to give birth to underweight babies
  • Nearly 50 percent of newborn deaths are caused due to complications arising out of low birth weight and premature delivery
  • According to the National Family and Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4), nearly 50 per cent pregnant women in the age group 14 to 59 are anemic
  • This has severe consequences for both maternal and infant mortality

Other factors involved

  1. There is a link between early marriage and the physical and mental well being of both mother and infant
  2. The National Plan of Action for Children recognizes that the early marriage of girls is one of the factors for neonatal deaths
  3. Early marriage poses various risks for the survival, health, and development of young girls and to children born to them
  4. Unfortunately it is also used as a means of trafficking

Anomalies in present law

  1. Despite laws against child marriage being in place since 1929, and the legal age of marriage being declared as 18 for girls and 21 for boys under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006, there are still 23 million child brides in the country
  2. The law which does not, in fact, ban child marriage outright but says that it is voidable at the option of the contracting party who is a child at the time of marriage
  3. Child marriage is void only in certain circumstances
  4. Child marriages continue to be valid under the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 and Muslim Personal Law

What needs to be done?

  1. Child marriage is deeply entrenched in society and cannot be removed by the law alone
  2. It is time to re-examine the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act
  3. Also, to work together to get a definitive position from the government and the legislature to ensure that there is, in fact, a complete legal ban on child marriage

Supreme Court asks govt to set up cell to fight child porn

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: Not much

Mains level: The article touches an important issue of children rights.


News

Direction from the SC

  1. The SC has asked the Centre to implement the proposal of a high-powered committee to set up a cell within the CBI or the Ministry of Home Affairs to deal with such crimes
  2. The committee was constituted to devise a plan to check circulation of child pornography and sexual violence videos on the Internet
  3. The SC has said it “expected” the government and social media platforms and Internet service providers, to “abide by the recommendations on which there is consensus and to try and implement them at the earliest”

Status report

  1. The bench asked the government to file a status report on the implementation of the recommendations and submit it in a sealed cover before December 11

Some important recommendations of the committee

  1. According to the committee, the solution lay in “proactively identifying rogue sites by an independent agency which can identify sites that contains child porn and rape and gang rape content and blocking these sites”
  2. It added that “to prevent the circulation of subject imagery, government can block any additional sites/applications if they do not remove such contents of their own”

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.

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.

Ending child labour by 2025 farcical

  1. Global leaders will this month pledge to end by 2025, as part of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to improve the lives of the poorest.
  2. India has introduced laws to protect children and ensure their schooling, as well as a range of social welfare schemes.
  3. Census data shows there were 4.35 million labourers aged between five and 14 in 2011 against 12.66 million a decade ago.
  4. International Labour Organization (ILO) report puts the number of child workers in India aged between 5-17 at 5.7 million, out of 168 million globally.
  5. More than half are in agriculture, toiling in cotton, sugarcane and rice paddy fields where they are often exposed to pesticides and risk injury from sharp tools and heavy equipment.
  6. Children who help their family or family businesses can work outside school hours, and those in entertainment or sports can work provided it does not affect their education.
  7. The government said the exceptions are aimed at striking a balance between education and India’s socio-economic reality.
  8. Allowing children to help parents in family work also provides skills development for the child and succour for the child as well as the poor parents.

Child labour increased by 53% in urban India: CRY Report

  1. Analysis by Child Rights and You (CRY) – There has been a significant increase in working children in the age group of 5-9 years.
  2. In urban areas while the number of working girls rose by 240%, it increased by 154% for working boys.
  3. But why? Attributed to increased migration – seasonal migration for employment as well as trafficking of unaccompanied minors.

Child Labour in the garment sector – 70% girls

“It is perturbing and shameful that children’s engagement in informal labour, including in the garment industry, which has also contributed to the rising rate of school drop-outs, continues to be a sad reality in the national capital.”

Over 8000 children are employed in the garments industry in the National Capital alone, and 70% of them are girls.

[cd explains] Catchup on the Child Labour Law ammendments

 

[op-ed snap] Right to have a childhood

  1. Case in point – Cabinet’s approval of a set of amendments to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986.
  2. One of the amendments proposes to ban the employment of children < 14 years in all occupations except family enterprises.
  3. This is in contradiction with Article 21-A & the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
  4. The law potentially opens loopholes that will sustain or even encourage child labour, creating a regulatory nightmare.
  5. ‘Family enterprises’ fall in the unorganised sector.
  6. May adversely affect girl children who are often forced into domestic work.

Cabinet clears changes to Child Labour Act

  1. Children below the age of 14 allowed to work in select ‘non-hazardous’ family enterprises.
  2. The prohibition on child labour would not apply if they were helping the family in fields, forests and home-based work after school hours or during vacations.
  3. Child right activists, however, have opposed the move, saying the proposal could be used to deny education to the girl child.
  4. Family businesses have been given a wide definition and cover any job, profession, or business performed primarily by family members.
HT

Contradictions in law – Who is a child?

  1. Different Acts continue to define “child” differently.
  2. While the RTE Act 2009 & CLPRA 2012 define a child as 14-year-old, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 considers this to be 18 years.
  3. CPLRA = Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.

New Bill for total ban on child labour

  1. Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment (CLPRA) Bill is pending since December 2012.
  2. The proposed amendments to the Act will for the first time ban employment of children below 14 years in any occupation.
  3. This will bring the law in consistency with the Right to Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009.
  4. The 1986 law prohibits employing children only in certain occupations such as mines, work in hazardous process and with inflammable substances or explosives.


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