Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Adoption of COVID-19-orphaned children

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CARA

Mains level : Child Adoption

The Supreme Court has directed the States and Union Territories (UTs) to take stringent action against private individuals and NGOs who invite people to illegally adopt children orphaned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Also read

Legal issues involved in adoption pleas for Covid-19 orphans

SC ruling against illegal adoption

  • The court ordered the government to step in and prevent private entities from revealing the identities of COVID-19 affected children, usually on social media and inviting people to adopt them.
  • No adoption of affected children should be permitted contrary to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015 the court-ordered.
  • It was illegal to invite strangers to adopt children, already traumatized by their personal losses, without the involvement of the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).

About CARA

  • Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) is an autonomous and statutory body of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It was set up in 1990.
  • It functions as the nodal body for the adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the 1993 Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, ratified India in 2003.
  • It primarily deals with the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated and recognized adoption agencies.
  • In 2018, CARA has allowed individuals in a live-in relationship to adopt children from and within India.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Child labour in India

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Challenges in dealing with child labour

The article highlights the risk posed by pandemic to the gains made by India on reducing the child labour in India.

Child labour in India

  • A Government of India survey (NSS Report No. 585, 2017-18) suggests that only 79.6%. of the children in the age group of 14-17 years are attending educational institutions (formal and informal).
  • The Census of India 2011 reports 10.1 million working children in the age group of 5-14 years.
  • Out of whom 8.1 million are in rural areas mainly engaged as cultivators (26%) and agricultural labourers (32.9%).
  • UNESCO estimates based on the 2011 Census record 38.1 million children as “out of school” i.e.18.3% of total children in the age group of 6-13 years.
  • A Rapid Survey on Children (2013-14), jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development and UNICEF, found that less than half of children in the age group of 10-14 years have completed primary education.

How policies and initiatives helped reduce child labour in India (2001-11)

  • Child labour in India decreased in the decade 2001 to 2011.
  • Policy interventions such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) 2005, the Right to Education Act 2009 and the Mid Day Meal Scheme have paved the way for children to be in schools along with guaranteed wage employment (unskilled) for rural families.
  • Efforts towards convergence of government schemes is also the focus of the implementation of the National Child Labour Project.
  • Ratifying International Labour Organization Conventions Nos. 138 and 182 in 2017, the Indian government further demonstrated its commitment to the elimination of child labour.
  • The Ministry of Labour and Employment-operated online portal allows to share information and coordinate on child labour cases at the national, State and local levels for effective enforcement of child labour laws.

Challenges ahead

  • The economic contraction and lockdowns have worsened the situation, posing a real risk of backtracking the gains made in eliminating child labour.
  • With increased economic insecurity, lack of social protection and reduced household income, children from poor households are being pushed to contribute to the family income.
  • With closure of schools and challenges of distance learning, children may drop out leaving little scope for return unless affirmative and immediate actions are taken.
  • As many schools and educational institutions are moving to online platforms for continuation of learning, the ‘digital divide’ is a challenge that India has to reconcile within the next several years.
  • The NSS Report titled ‘Household Social Consumption on Education in India’ suggests that in 2017-18, only 24% of Indian households had access to an Internet facility.
  • The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 survey highlights that a third of the total enrolled children received some kind of learning materials from their teachers during the reference period (October 2020) as digital mode of education was opted for.

Way forward

  •  It is through strategic partnerships and collaborations involving government, employers, trade unions, community-based organisations and child labour families that we could make a difference building back better and sooner.
  • We need a strong alliance paving our way towards ending child labour in all its forms by 2025 to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8.7.

Consider the question “What are the policy measures and programmatic intervention implemented to reduce the child labour in India. How Covid-19 threatens the gains made on reducing the child labour?”

Conclusion

To deal with the child labour challenge, we need the right level of commitment among all the relevant stakeholders and the right mix of policy and programmatic interventions are present.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Lend a helping hand to children the right way

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.

Mains level : Paper 2- Dealing with orphaned children

The article highlights the need to be aware of the legal provisions while helping a orphan child.

Helping orphaned children

  • Social media is flooded with requests to adopt children who have lost their parents in the pandemic.
  • However, before handing over an orphan child to any agency, family or person, it is important to be aware of the laws.
  • If an orphan child is kept by someone without lawful authority, he or she may land themselves in trouble.
  • According to the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, 1956, the father, and in his absence the mother, is the natural guardian.
  • Not even a close relative can look after the child without authorisation.

What are the options to help

  • First option is any individual who finds an orphan child or even any child who needs care and protection under the circumstances, should immediately call the toll free Childline number 1098.
  • It is an emergency phone outreach service managed by the Women and Child Development department’s nodal agency, the Childline India Foundation.
  • The second option is to intimate the district protection officer concerned whose contact details can be found on the National Tracking System for Missing and Vulnerable Children portal.
  • The third alternative is to approach the nearest police station or its child welfare police officer who is specially trained to exclusively deal with children.
  •  jOne can always dial the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) which is a pan-India single number (112) based emergency response system for citizens in emergencies and seek the necessary help.
  • The non-reporting of such children is also a punishable offence under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJA).

Procedure after a child reaches outreach agency

  • Once an orphan child is recovered by the outreach agency, it is the duty of the said agency to produce the child within 24 hours before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of the district.
  • The CWC, after an inquiry, decides whether to send the child to a children’s home or a fit facility or fit person.
  • If the child is below six years, he or she shall be placed in a specialised adoption agency.
  • The State thus takes care of all such children who are in need of care and protection, till they turn 18 years.
  • In Sampurna Behrua vs Union of India (2018), the Supreme Court of India directed States and Union Territories to ensure that all child care institutions are registered.

Procedure for adoption

  • Once a child is declared legally free for adoption by the CWC, adoption can be done either by Indian prospective adoptive parents or non-resident Indians or foreigners, in that order.
  • Another important feature of the JJA is that it is secular in nature and simple in procedure.
  • While the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 is religion specific but also relatively cumbersome in procedure.
  • Second, the procedure of adoption is totally transparent and its progress can be monitored from the portal of the statutory body, the Central Adoption Resource Authority.

Directives to the police

  • The Supreme Court in Bachpan Bachao Andolan vs Union of India directed all Directors General of Police, in May 2013, to register a first information report as a case of trafficking or abduction in every case of a missing child.
  • At least one police officer not below the rank of assistant sub-inspector in each police station is mandatorily required to undergo training to deal with children in conflict with the law and in need of care and protection.
  • They are not required to wear a uniform and need to be child-friendly.
  • Similarly, each district is supposed to have its special juvenile police unit, headed by an officer not below the rank of a Deputy Superintendent of Police.
  • The Supreme Court in Re: Exploitation of children in Orphanages in the State of Tamil Nadu (2017) inter alia, specifically asked the National Police Academy, Hyderabad and police training academies in every State to prepare training courses on the JJA and provide regular training to police officers in terms of sensitisation.
  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recently wrote to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Union Territories on the issue of children orphaned due to COVID-19.

Conclusion

Following the Covid surge and subsequent increase in request for adoption of children, the laws and procedure for the protection of children must be noted.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Legal issues involved in adoption pleas for Covid-19 orphans

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Juvenile Justice law

Mains level : Paper 2- Child adoption procedure

The Covid pandemic has orphaned many children. As a consequence there has been an increase in pleas on social media for adoption. However, such pleas go against the legal provisions. The article deals with the issue.

Legal provisions for protection of children

  • Today, some people are offering infants for instant adoption by stating how the children have lost their parents to pandemic.
  • However, such adoptions are illegal.
  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) law was enacted in 2015.
  • The Juvenile Justice Act is a secular law, all persons are free to adopt children under this law.
  • The Juvenile Justice Rules of 2016 and the Adoption Regulations of 2017 followed to create the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA).
  • CARA is a statutory body for the regulation, monitoring and control of all intra-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA also grants a ‘no objection’ certificate for all inter-country adoptions, pursuant to India becoming a signatory to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoptions.
  • India is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
  • Thus, protections afforded to children became a legal mandate of all authorities and courts.
  • Persons professing the Hindu religion are also free to adopt under the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act of 1956.
  • Rehabilitation of all orphaned, abandoned and surrendered children is regulated by the strict mandatory procedures of the Adoption Regulations.

Procedure for adoption

  • The eligibility of prospective adoptive parents living in India, duly registered on the Child Adoption Resource Information and Guidance System (CARINGS), irrespective of marital status and religion, is adjudged by specialised adoption agencies preparing home study reports.
  • The specialised adoption agency then secures court orders approving the adoption.
  • All non-resident persons approach authorised adoption agencies in their foreign country of residence for registration under CARINGS.
  • Their eligibility is adjudged by authorised foreign adoption agencies through home study reports.
  • CARA then issues a pre-adoption ‘no objection’ certificate for foster care, followed by a court adoption order.
  • A final ‘no objection’ certificate from CARA or a conformity certificate under the adoption convention is mandatory for a passport and visa to leave India.

Way forward

  • CARA must conduct an outreach programme on social media, newspapers and TV, warning everyone not to entertain any illegal adoption offers under any circumstances whatsoever.
  • The National and State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights must step up their roles as vigilantes.
  • Social activists, NGOs and enlightened individuals must report all the incidents that come to their notice.
  • Respective State Legal Services Authorities have the infrastructure and machinery to stamp out such unlawful practices brought to their attention.
  • The media must publicise and shame all those involved in this disreputable occupation.
  •  At the same time, the police authorities need to be extra vigilant in apprehending criminals.

Conclusion

Tough times call for tough measures. This business of criminal trading of children must be checked with an iron hand.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[pib] Child Beggars and their protection

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Various provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act

Mains level : Child rights and their protection

The Union Minister of Women and Child Development has given important information regarding the protection of child beggars in India under various acts and ministries.

Q.What are the various legislatures aimed at protecting Child Beggars in India? Discuss their efficacy in the prevention of child begging as well as abuse.

Protection of Child Beggars

(A) JJ Act, 2015

  • The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) is the primary law for children in the country.
  • The Section 2 (14) (ii) of the Act, 2015, considers a child being in force or is found begging, or living on the street as a “child in need of care and protection”.
  • As per Section 76 of JJ Act, whoever employs or uses any child for the purpose of begging or causes any child to beg shall be punishable with imprisonment.
  • The Act provides a security net of service delivery structures along with measures for institutional and non-institutional care, to ensure the comprehensive well being of children in distress situations.
  • The primary responsibility of execution of the Act rests with the States/UTs.

(B) Child Protection Services (CPS)

  • The Ministry implements a centrally sponsored scheme CPS under the umbrella Integrated Child Development Services scheme.
  • It supports the children in difficult circumstances including child beggars and destitute children.
  • Under the scheme, institutional care is provided through Child Care Institutions (CCIs), as a rehabilitative measure.
  • The programmes and activities in CCIs inter-alia include age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counselling etc.
  • The scheme supports 24×7 emergency outreach/ helpline service for children in distress conditions.
  • The service is accessible through a dedicated toll-free number, 1098 from anywhere in India.

(C) Rehabilitation measures

  • The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, has undertaken a pilot project for Comprehensive Rehabilitation of Persons engaged in the act of begging.
  • It is currently held in ten (10) cities; namely Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Ahmadabad, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Lucknow, Patna, Nagpur and Indore.
  • The initiative aims for identification, rehabilitation, counselling, skill development of beggars.
  • It includes education of children engaged in begging/children of persons engaged in the begging.

The children of today are assets of tomorrow. Yet education, which is a fundamental right to every child in our country, is still a dream for many children in India, especially the ones who are poor, downtrodden and in dire need.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Future for the World’s Children Report 2020

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Future for the World’s Children Report 2020 and indices mentioned

Mains level : Ensuring sustainable development worldwide

The Future for the World’s Children Report 2020 was recently released.

About the report

  • The report was released by a commission of over 40 child and adolescent health experts from around the world after assessing 180 countries.
  • It was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and The Lancet medical journal.

What is Flourishing Index?

  • Flourishing is the geometric mean of Surviving and Thriving.
  • For Surviving, the authors selected maternal survival, survival in children younger than 5 years old, suicide, access to maternal and child health services, basic hygiene and sanitation, and lack of extreme poverty.
  • For Thriving, the domains were educational achievement, growth and nutrition, reproductive freedom, and protection from violence.

Threats to Children

  • The report highlights the distinct threat posed to children from harmful marketing.
  • Evidence suggests that children in some countries see as many as 30,000 advertisements on television alone in a single year, while youth exposure to vaping (e-cigarettes) advertisements increased by more than 250% in the U.S. over two years, reaching more than 24 million young people.
  • Studies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and the U.S. — among many others — have shown that self-regulation has not hampered commercial ability to advertise to children.
  • Children’s exposure to commercial marketing of junk food and sugary beverages is associated with the purchase of unhealthy foods and overweight and obesity, linking predatory marketing to the alarming rise in childhood obesity.
  • The number of obese children and adolescents increased from 11 million in 1975 to 124 million in 2016 — an 11-fold increase, with dire individual and societal costs, the report said.

What is Sustainability Index?

  • Under the Sustainability Index, the authors noted that promoting today’s national conditions for children to survive and thrive must not come at the cost of eroding future global conditions for children’s ability to flourish.
  • It ranks countries on excess carbon emissions compared with the 2030 target.
  • This provides a convenient and available proxy for a country’s contribution to sustainability in future.

Highlights of the SI

  • The report noted that under realistic assumptions about possible trajectories towards sustainable greenhouse gas emissions, models predict that global carbon emissions need to be reduced from 39·7 gigatonnes to 22·8 gigatonnes per year by 2030 to maintain even a 66% chance of keeping global warming below 1·5degrees C.
  • No country in the world is currently providing the conditions we need to support every child to grow up and have a healthy future alarmed the report.

India’s performance

India ranked 77th on a sustainability index that takes into account per capita carbon emissions and ability of children in a nation to live healthy lives and secures 131st spot on a flourishing ranking that measures the best chance at survival and well-being for children.

Performance of nations in SI

  •  Norway leads the table for survival, health, education and nutrition rates – followed by South Korea and the Netherlands.
  • The central African Republic, Chad and Somalia come at the bottom.
  • However, when taking into account per capita CO2 emissions, these top countries trail behind, with Norway 156th, the Republic of Korea 166th and the Netherlands 160th.
  • Each of the three emits 210 per cent more CO2 per capita than their 2030 target, the data shows, while the U.S., Australia, and Saudi Arabia are among the 10 worst emitters.
  • The lowest emitters are Burundi, Chad and Somalia.
  • According to the report, the only countries on track to beat CO2 emission per capita targets by 2030, while also performing fairly — within the top 70 — on child flourishing measures are Albania, Armenia, Grenada, Jordan, Moldova, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, Uruguay and Vietnam.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Treat the disease

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Paedophilia

Mains level : Child sexual abuse - the disease behind it

Context

In matters of sexual crime and criminals, where there is a social revulsion towards the perpetrators, the law is blunt and the public discourse is vitiated by a collective desire for revenge. 

Paedophilia

  • Paedophilia has been classified by the WHO as a disease. 
  • There are few mental health professionals in India equipped to deal with it. 
  • Over 300 people suspected of having paedophilic tendencies have reached out to a network of psychologists and psychiatrists based in Mumbai and Pune, seeking help.
  • There are severe legal consequences for those who sexually assault and target children under the POCSO Act. 
  • But doctors in Mumbai attempt to treat paedophilia through counseling and antidepressants. 
  • This is especially for those who are “at the lower threshold of the disease” and have not been booked under the Act. 
  • According to Klaus Beier, director of the Institute of Sexology and Sexual Medicine, at least 1% of the male population suffers from paedophilia. 
  • Given India’s population, it cannot be left unaddressed and untreated.

Welcome move

  • The initiative to treat people who want to deal with their paedophilic tendencies is welcome.
  • Often, the fear of the stigma that comes with articulating such feelings leads to horrifying consequences. 
  • A section of mental health professionals are taking a series of steps — from anonymous helplines to expanding the number of doctors capable of managing the disorder.

Conclusion

  • Any society cannot leave the well-being of its children outside the ambit of the law. Once acts of sexual violence are committed, they must be prosecuted.
  • It is also important to deal with those who seek treatment with compassion and sympathy.
  • It is important to treat the disease, not merely punish the diseased.

 

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Deep traps

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Borewell deaths

Context

The intensive operation in Tamil Nadu to rescue a child who slipped into an abandoned borewell in Trichy district ended in failure. 

Issues in the event

    • No technology or protocols – No breakthrough method has emerged, in terms of technology or protocols to rescue small children who have fallen into deep holes that are less than a foot wide. 
    • Repeat of similar events in the past – The disaster is no different from the one that took the life of another two-year-old in Punjab’s Sangrur district earlier this year. 
    • Huge cost to NDRF – the agency deployed its teams no less than 37 times until 2018, mostly in Maharashtra, but also in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. 
    • Increase in the number – More such disasters are bound to occur, since there are many disused and uncovered well holes scattered in farms in several States. 
    • Lack of rules – No time can be lost in implementing the safety rules relating to wells issued in the past.

Laws/ existing mechanisms

    • Tamil Nadu Act – Tamil Nadu issued the Regulation of Sinking of Wells and Safety Measures Rules 2015, incorporating measures ordered by the Supreme Court in 2010. 
    • Provisions of TN law – There is a provision requiring the holder of a permit or well to fill up an abandoned hole up to the ground level using clay, sand or boulders.

Way ahead

    • Onus on the local body – Meaningful implementation of this provision requires that the onus should rest with the local body, and not the owner of the borewell who is often a farmer of poor means. 
    • Closing an abandoned well would not be seen as a wasteful expenditure by farmers as they would not be charged for it. Also, panchayat personnel would execute the closure rather than merely certify that action has been taken.
    • Time-bound capping of open wells will eliminate the intensive, high-cost rescues that the NDRF has to attempt. 
    • Urban areas – Deep borewell accidents have also occurred in cities that rely heavily on groundwater. Supreme Court pointed out that it should be the task of the municipal and public health authorities to eliminate the issue.

Conclusion

It is time the State governments took safety seriously, came up with a census of well structures in need of attention, and capped the problem forever.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Global threats to children

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Various threats to children across the world

  • The UNICEF has enlisted eight growing challenges for the children across globe.

Children at risk

  • Protracted conflicts, the worsening climate crisis, a decline in mental health, mass migration and online misinformation are some of the most concerning emerging global threats to children.
  • Majority of children will grow up as natives of a digital environment saturated with online misinformation.
  • For example, so-called ‘deep fake’ technology uses artificial intelligence techniques to create convincing fakes of audio and video content, relatively easily.

Threats to the future of world’s children as highlighted by UNICEF

  • Access to clean water, clean air and a safe climate
  • Conflict and disaster zones
  • Mental illness
  • Migration
  • Need for Twenty-first century skills for a twenty-first century economy
  • Protecting their Digital footprint
  • Vulnerability for being the least trusting generation of citizens

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] A point to ponder over in the POCSO Bill

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing much

Mains level : Analysis of POCSO Amendment

The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Parliament. 

Specific provisions

  1. It defines what ‘child pornography’ is; ‘using a child for pornographic purposes’ and for ‘possessing or storing pornography involving a child’ is punishable.
  2. It has also widened the ambit of ‘Aggravated sexual assault’
  3. It introduced the death penalty for the rape of minors
  4. The Bill is gender neutral and provides for the death penalty for “aggravated penetrative sexual assault of a child” and not just a girl child.

Problems

  1. The introduction of the death penalty may backfire in cases of child sexual abuse and even have a catastrophic effect. Often, perpetrators of abuse are family members and having such penalties may discourage the registration of the crime itself.
  2. It may threaten the life of the minor as the maximum punishment for murder is also the death sentence.
  3. Justice J.S. Verma Committee was against the imposition of the death penalty in rape cases. The 262nd Report of the Law Commission of India also provides for the abolition of the death penalty except in terror cases.
  4. The death penalty diverts attention from the core issues of infrastructural apathy, procedural lapses and trial delays.
  5. It is the certainty of punishment rather than its severity which has deterrence in real sense.
  6. Even a year-and-a-half after the passage of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2018, which introduced the death penalty for rape of a minor girl, such incidents have not been under check.
  7. Robin Conley in his book, Confronting the Death Penalty, has observed that the death penalty may seem just and appropriate in abstract but once analysed, it is less appealing practically.
  8. Deterrence has to be supplemented by exhaustive measures including an overhaul of the criminal justice administration.
  9. As per Supreme court data, 24,212 FIRs were filed across India this year. According to NCRB data of 2016, the conviction rate in POCSO cases is 29.6% while pendency is as high as 89%. The prescribed time period of two months for trial in such cases is hardly complied with.

Supreme court has recently directed the Central Government to set up special courts in each district having more than 100 pending cases under the Act.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Finding the data on missing girls

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Definitions of Sex Ratio at Birth; Sex Ratio

Mains level : Data problems in addressing skewed sex ratio in India

CONTEXT

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) has been dropping continuously since Census 2011, coming down from 909 girls per thousand boys in 2011-2013 to 896 girls in 2015-2017 as per the SRS Statistical Reports. 

Facts

  • Female foeticide continues to increase at an alarming rate, as per the Sample Registration System (SRS) data released for the period 2015-2017
  • In the 2014-2016 period, of the 21 large States, only two — Kerala and Chhattisgarh — had an SRB of above 950 girls per 1000 boys. Thus at present, about 5% of girls are ‘eliminated’ before they are born

Data problem

  • Niti Aayog acknowledged the seriousness of the problem in its latest report.
  • Despite all the officially acknowledged facts, WCD Minister claimed in the Lok Sabha that SRB has improved from 923 to 931 girls. She was quoting data from the Health Management Information System (HMIS), a fundamentally flawed source that largely considers home deliveries and births in government institutions.
  • Data from the HMIS are incomplete and not representative of the country as a whole as births happening in private institutions are under-reported. 
  • The report itself acknowledges that based on the estimated number of births, the number of reported births is much less in both the years considered — 2015-16 and 2018-19.

Different data sources

  • The differences among the three points of delivery become evident when SRB is calculated using data from National Family Health Survey-4 (NFHS-4). Of the 2.5 lakh reported births in the 2010-2014 period, the distribution of births at home, government hospitals and private hospitals was 21%, 52% and 27% respectively and the corresponding SRB figures were 969, 930 and 851
  • Thus, private hospitals had a disproportionate excess of male children births, which the HMIS sample excludes
  • Sources in the Niti Aayog confirmed that they did consider HMIS data but found after statistical examination that it was unreliable and therefore used SRS.
  • Even when we only consider institutional deliveries in government hospitals, the SRB is falling. 
    • The worst regional SRB for government sector was for Northern India (885 girls per thousand boys). 
    • The picture was somewhat better for Central India (926) Southern India (940) while the performance of Eastern India (965) and Western India (959) was even better.
    • In the Northeast, where the government is the dominant health-care provider, the government sector SRB rivaled that of the private sector (both are 900).
  • That data for the private sector are more skewed has not been articulated in the NFHS reports or adequately dealt with by the Health Ministry. For two decades, in private hospitals, too often, there were more male children even when the total number of births was small in number.
  • In the special neonatal care units (SNCU) set up by the government, there was an excess of about 8% of male children in several States. The government has prioritized the expansion of SNCUs rather than deal with the issue of the ‘missing girls’. 
  • Protecting the integrity of birth statistics will help the people, governments and health professionals to focus on ameliorating the gender gaps at birth

Bias over first-born child

  • An analysis of the NFHS-4 data also revealed a bias when it comes to the first-born child — the SRB is among first-born children was 927, meaning that 2.5% of first-born girls are eliminated before birth
  • Field visits in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar revealed a massive expansion of ultrasound clinics even in remote corners. And in the absence of stringent implementation of the PCPNDT Act, practically anyone who wants to determine the sex of the foetus is able to get it done illegally. 

Insights

  • Increased deterrence in States like Maharastra, Haryana and Rajasthan in recent years has been undermined by the laxity of the biggest States.
  • Central Supervisory Board established under the PCPNDT Act has not met for over one-and-a-half years. It should have ideally met at least thrice during this period.

Supreme Court has been continuously reminding medical associations since 2002 of their obligation to follow the law, its latest reminder being the 92-page judgment against the Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecological Societies of India (FOGSI) earlier this year. The Indian Medical Association (IMA) has to ensure that private hospitals don’t profit from discrimination against girls before birth.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[pib] Death Penalty provisions for Sexual offences against Children

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : POCSO Act, Definition of Child

Mains level : Preventing child abuse

Stringent punishments under POCSO Act

  • In a historic decision to protect the children from Sexual offences, the Union Cabinet chaired by PM Modi has approved the Amendments in the Protection of Children from Sexual   Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012.
  • It will make punishment more stringent for committing sexual crimes against children including death penalty.
  • The amendments also provide for levy of fines and imprisonment to curb child pornography.

Other amendments

  • An amendment has also been approved to Section 4 of the POCSO Act so as to increase the minimum punishment to ten years, from the existing seven years.
  • For ‘penetrative sexual assault’ of 16 to 17 year olds and if the child is below the age of 16 years the punishment extends to a minimum of 20 years.
  • The maximum term of life imprisonment in such cases has been retained.
  • Moreover, the definition of ‘sexual assault’ has now been expanded to include administration of hormones to children to make them appear more sexually mature for the sake of commercial sexual exploitation.

Why such move?

  • As per the last available data from the National Crime Records Bureau 2016 of child rape cases came up before the courts under the POCSO Act read with Indian Penal Code Section 376.
  • Less than three per cent cases ended in convictions, pointing to the need for better access to justice for all, and not just more stringent conviction in a small percentage of cases.

Impact

  • The amendment is expected to discourage the trend of child sexual abuse by acting as a deterrent due to strong penal provisions incorporated in the Act.
  • It intends to protect the interest of vulnerable children in times of distress and ensures their safety and dignity.
  • The amendment is aimed to establish clarity regarding the aspects of child abuse and punishment thereof.

About POCSO Act

  • The POCSO Act, 2012 was enacted to Protect the Children from Offences of Sexual Assault, Sexual harassment and pornography with due regard for safeguarding the interest and well-being of children.
  • The Act defines a child as any person below eighteen years of age, and regards the best interests and welfare of the child as matter of paramount importance at every stage.
  • The act aims to ensure the healthy physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of the child.
  • The act is gender neutral.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Commercial surrogacy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Commercial surrogacy in India

CONTEXT
The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared a Bill to prohibit commercial surrogacy in India, allowing only altruistic, ethical surrogacy to the needy infertile married Indian couples, including NRIs.

Provisions

  • The Bill lists conditions requiring couples seeking surrogacy service to have been married for five years and a medical certificate for infertility for either of the spouse at the end of that period in conformity with the stated age group.
  • Surrogacy services will be banned for persons of Indian origin, overseas citizens of India, members of the LGBT community, single parents and live-in partners.

Concerns with commercial surrogacy

  • The concern over the commercialisation of surrogacy is justified with chances of its misuse.
  • Procreation is not just about furthering the family lineage, but also about succession, tradition and legality.
  • Having a child is about putting a biological system in place, not just caring for societal mores.
  • There is therefore a need to define the legality and ethicality of the practice.
  • Commercial surrogacy can lead to complaints of exploitation of women, especially those from the economically weaker section, because it would involve financial compensation, the adequacy of which can always be challenged.
  • Pregnancy remains a biological phenomenon, with its attendant complications, necessitating proper medical care, the grossness of which could be open to challenge in case something goes wrong.
  • Children born out of surrogacy can also face the problems of citizenship, abandonment and abuse, another aspect that needs to be taken care of.
  • There is also the problem of jurisdiction because not all countries permit it. Couples wanting a surrogacy arrangement may travel to a country that permits it.

Conclusion

Perhaps keeping this in mind, the Bill clearly lists the category of persons eligible for this. Considering our penchant for observing rules more in spirit than in letter, it will have to be ensured that the avowed aims of the Bill do not go awry.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Starting at three: On RTE progress

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing Much

Mains level : Amendment in RTE

CONTEXT

Extending the right to education to younger children would be a welcome step.

New Proposal

  • India’s far-sighted Right to Education Act is making slow progress in mainstreaming equity, in the absence of a strong political commitment in several States.
  • The proposal to extend its scope to younger children through early childhood education is, however, wholly positive.
  • The move suggested in the draft National Education Policy to put children three years and older in a stimulating nursery environment is a welcome logical measure.
  • The pedagogical view is that the pre-school phase is crucial to stimulate a child’s curiosity and help her prepare for schooling at age six.
  • The NEP proposal to infuse the existing child development schemes, which are primarily nutrition-oriented, with a learning component is in line with this thinking on holistic development.
  • An extension of the RTE would be a big step forward, but in the absence of measures that will deepen equity, the law cannot be transformative.
  • The Centre has to guarantee that in its totality, the Right to Education will encompass all schools bar those catering to minorities.
  • This is necessary to achieve its moral goal of bringing quality schooling to all in the 6-14 age group; adding the early childhood section, now under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, will then be meaningful.

Challenge

Unfortunately, the evidence indicates that only 12.7% schools comply with the law’s requirements, and at the pace seen since RTE became law in 2010, it will take decades to achieve full coverage.

Ways to achieve it

More financial resources

  • Giving all children aged three and above the right to an education can become a reality only if the state is willing to live up to its promise of devoting more financial resources.
  • An expenditure of 6% of GDP on education could have transformed the sector, given the large wealth generated since economic liberalisation. But far less is spent — for instance, 2.7% in 2017-18.
  • The lost years have cost millions a brighter future, but the draft NEP provides an opportunity to make amends.
  • Bringing more children into the formal stream needs a well-thought-out road map.

Centre’s Role

  • The Centre has to play a leadership role to ensure that States, some of which have done a poor job of implementing the RTE Act, are persuaded to implement urgent reform.
  • The NEP’s proposal to have well-designed school complexes, where pre-primary to secondary classes will be available, is in itself an ambitious goal that will require mission-mode implementation.

State’s Government’ Role

Shortcomings in anganwadi centres must be addressed in the expansion plan. State governments will have to fill teacher vacancies and ensure that the training of recruits is aligned to scientific, child-oriented teaching methods. Education reform is vital to prepare for a future in which cutting-edge skills will be necessary for continued economic progress.

Conclusion

Changes to the RTE Act that will prepare all children for a more productive schooling phase can help make India’s educational system morally fair and more egalitarian.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Saving childhoods

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nothing

Mains level : Eliminating Child Labour from India

CONTEXT

On World Day Against Child Labour (June 12) in 2017, India ratified two core conventions of the International Labour Organization on child labour. It now has to double its efforts to ensure that the benefit of those conventions reaches the most vulnerable children.

Data regarding Child labours

  • As per the 2011 Census, in the age group 5-14 years, 10.1 million of 259.6 million constituted working children.
  • The decline rate is grossly insufficient to meet target 8.7 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is to end child labour in all forms by 2025. India therefore needs to embark on new and innovative approaches in its fight against child labour.

Impact of ratifications

The ratification of the core conventions on child labour gives rise to a range of priorities such as strengthening policy and legislative enforcement and building the capacities of government, workers’ and employers’ organisations as well as other partners at national, State and community levels..

Steps Forward

1. Investment in research

  • India should invest in enhancing its body of knowledge on child labour, emphasising quantitative information.
  • While there are many common factors across the spectrum, each sector and each demographical segment will have its own set of factors and drivers that push children into the labour market.
  • Such factors and drivers can only be identified and analysed through proper research, surveys and assessments.

2. Complementing SDGs

  • Eliminating child labour is firmly placed within Goal 8 of the SDGs.
  • A stronger nexus between the discourse on SDGs and the discourse on eliminating child labour can take the advantage of complementarities and synergies of a wide range of actors engaged in both areas of work.

3. Participation of Private Sector

  • The growing interest of the private sector is a great opportunity that has to be further utilised, particularly to leverage key influencers in domestic and multinational supply chains.
  • It is also a matter of competitive advantage for multi-nationals to ensure that child labour is effectively eliminated in their supply chains.
  • A sector-wide culture of child labour-free businesses has to be nurtured.

Conclusion

As the world of work is transforming and new actors are emerging, one cannot underestimate the importance of creating a sound and vibrant platform to bring together these actors. The fight against child labour is not just the responsibility of one, it is the responsibility of all.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Not keeping record of pre-natal tests is commission of offence of foeticide

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Particulars of the act

Mains level : PCPNDT Act

  • In a significant judgment, the Supreme Court upheld provisions in the anti-pre-natal sex determination law which ‘criminalises’ non-maintenance of medical records by obstetricians and gynaecologists and suspend their medical licence indefinitely.
  • The particular provisions in the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) PCPNDT Act of 1994 were necessary to prevent female foeticide in the country.

Apex court rulings

  • The main purpose of the Act is to ban the use of sex selection and misuse of pre-natal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortions and to regulate such techniques.
  • The court dismissed averments made by doctors that the provisions in the law criminalise even the smallest anomaly in paperwork which is in fact an inadvertent and unintentional error.
  • The sections have made obstetricians and gynecologists vulnerable to prosecution all over the country.
  • It is a responsible job of the person who is undertaking such a test i.e., the gynecologist/medical geneticist/radiologist/ pediatrician/director of the clinic/centre/laboratory to fill the requisite information.
  • In case he keeps it vague, he knows well that he is violating the provisions of the Act.

Back2Basics

PCPNDT Act

  • Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to stop female foeticides and arrest the declining sex ratio in India.
  • The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.

Why such an act?

  • In the early 1990s ultrasound techniques gained widespread use in India . Foetal sex determination and sex selective abortion became rampant.
  • There was a tendency for families to continuously produce children until a male child was born.   Social discrimination against women and a preference for sons have promoted female foeticide in various forms skewing the sex ratio of the country towards men.

Features of the Act

  • The Act provides for the prohibition of sex selection, before or after conception.
  • It regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, like ultrasound and amniocentesis by allowing them their use only to detect:
  1. genetic abnormalities
  2. metabolic disorders
  3. chromosomal abnormalities
  4. certain congenital malformations
  5. haemoglobinopathies
  6. sex linked disorders
  • No laboratory or centre or clinic will conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
  • No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, will communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  • Any person who puts an advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities can be imprisoned for up to three years and fined Rs. 10,000.Any subsequent conviction entails upto 5 years imprisonment and upto Rs.50,000 fine.
  • The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.
  • Metropolitan Magistrate or 1st class Judicial Magistrate will try any offence punishable under this law . According to Section 27 every offence is cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.

Recent Amendments

  • The 1994 Act was amended in 2003 to The Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition Of Sex Selection) Act to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection.
  • Amendment of the act mainly covered bringing the technique of pre conception sex selection within the ambit of the act.
  1. Bringing ultrasound within its ambit
  2. Empowering the central supervisory board, constitution of state level supervisory board.
  3. Provision for more stringent punishments
  4. Empowering appropriate authorities with the power of civil court for search, seizure and sealing the machines and equipments of the violators
  5. Regulating the sale of the ultrasound machines only to registered bodies

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

Explained: Age of consent & age gap under POCSO Act

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : POCSO Act, Definition of Child

Mains level : Read the attached story

  • While acquitting a young accused of sexual assault charges under the POCSO Act, Madras High Court made two significant suggestions that:
  1. the age for the definition of a “child” be taken as 16 rather than 18, and
  2. the Act account for the difference in age between the offender and the girl involved in consensual sex

Madras HC Judgement

  • The definition of ‘Child’ under Section 2(d) of the POCSO Act can be redefined as 16 instead of 18.
  • Any consensual sex after the age of 16 can be excluded from the rigorous provisions of the POCSO Act and such sexual assault, if it is so defined can be tried under more liberal provision.
  • The Act can be amended to the effect that the age of the offender ought not to be more than five years or so than the consensual victim girl of 16 years or more.
  • While legal experts and child rights activists welcomed the redefinition of “child”, some of them called for further discussions on the suggestion for an amendment that would factor in the age difference.

Why decriminalizing the consensual act?

  • A senior Supreme Court advocate called for decriminalization of consensual sex between those aged between 16 and 18.
  • This provision denies young person falling in this age bracket consensual sexual agency, and subjects them to the control of families which motivated by casteist, communal or orthodox and regressive views lodge false criminal complaints.
  • Various studies tell us in the age group between 16-18, there is a lot of experimental consensual sexual acts that take place.
  • However in most of the cases, the parents of the girl lodge a complaint against the boy that it was non-consensual.
  • The judgement will help eliminate the unwarranted criminalisation of consensual or romantic sexual relations.

Enabling more scope for fair trial

  • The issue of consent would have to be decided from the circumstances rather than putting the victim on the stand and asking her if she gave consent.
  • In consensual sex both are offenders or both are victims.
  • Many activists feel that consensual sex cannot be criminalised at an age when sexual exploration is common, but argued against singling out the boy.
  • Normally the boy is tried under JJ and the girl is sent to CWC. They are equal partners.

Way Forward

  • There can always be a discussion on what should be the age gap between alleged offender and victim.
  • It is important to acknowledge that the law at present on this subject is very harsh and does not leave any scope for details and dynamics of a relationship to be taken into account by courts.

Child Rights – POSCO, Child Labour Laws, NAPC, etc.

[op-ed snap] Left out, abused: on the state of child care institutions

Note4students

Mains Paper 2: Governance| Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of the vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Basic aspects of JJ Act, NCPCR.

Mains level: The newscard discusses issues, related to the Child Care Institutions(CCIs)/Homes, in a brief manner.


Context

  • The study of the Mapping Exercise of the Child Care Institutions(CCIs)/Homes throws light on a critical component of the Juvenile Justice System i.e. functioning of CCIs/Homes across the country, in the context of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and the Rules framed there under.

Background

  1. The Juvenile Justice Act’s Section 66 mandates a CCI to get registered in the state where it functions even if it has not been recognized as Specialized Adoption Agency (SAA).
  2. A CCI is required to ensure all orphans; abandoned or surrendered children under its care are reported, produced and declared legally free for adoption.
  3. The CCIs are supposed to develop formal linkages with nearby SAA and furnish details of the children declared legally free for adoption. Violation of Section 66 invites 50,000 penalty.

Insight Given by Central government committee

  1. It studied 9,589 Child Care Institutions and Homes, mostly run by NGOs, that come under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act.
  2. Only an emergency measure to address the serious lacunae can bring some semblance of order to these faceless shelters.
  3. Most of the inmates are orphaned, abandoned, sexually abused, trafficked or victims of disasters and conflict. Among them are 7,422 children in conflict with the law, and 3,70,227 in need of care and protection, including 1,70,375 girls.
  4. That they often have to live in facilities without proper toilets, secure compounds or the opportunity to vent their grievances as provided for under law underscores the painful reality that they remain virtually invisible.
  5. As per the recently disclosed study, only 32% of Child Care Institutions or Homes were registered under the JJ Act as of 2016, while an equal number were unregistered, and the rest were either empanelled under other schemes or awaiting registration.
  6. Some States obviously have too few homes, giving authorities little incentive to take up cases of children in distress. Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Kerala together account for 43.5% of all shelters.
  7. A few States do not have even one home of every category, such as child care, observation and adoption.
  8. The Ministry’s study lays bare the disconnect between civil society and the welfare system for children, and the poor engagement elected representatives have with such a vital function.

Way Forward

  1. Reform of this depressing system, as the Ministry of Women and Child Development seeks, can be achieved only through systematic scrutiny by State governments.
  2. This could be done by appointing special officers whose task it would be to ensure that all institutions register under the JJ Act, account for funds received by each, and enforce mandatory child protection policies during adoption.
  3. The priority should be to bring about uniformity of standards and procedures, evolving common norms for infrastructure, human resources, financial practices and external audits.
  4. The imperative now is to turn the findings of the Ministry’s committee into a blueprint for action. Credentialed NGOs should take a greater interest in this effort, holding the authorities to account.
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