Children Rights in India

Child Rights: A Gist

They are abandoned. They do not get a chance to step in a school. They are left to fend for themselves on the streets. They suffer from many forms of violence. They do not have access to even primary healthcare. They are subjected to cruel and inhumane treatments every day. They are children – innocent, young and beautiful – who are deprived of their rights.

In the history of human rights, the rights of children are the most ratified. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) defines Child Rights as the minimum entitlements and freedoms that should be afforded to every citizen below the age of 18 regardless of race, national origin, colour, gender, language, religion, opinions, origin, wealth, birth status, disability, or other characteristics.

These rights encompass freedom of children and their civil rights, family environment, necessary healthcare and welfare, education, leisure and cultural activities and special protection measures. The UNCRC outlines the fundamental human rights that should be afforded to children in four broad classifications that suitably cover all civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of every child:

Right to Survival:
• Right to be born
• Right to minimum standards of food, shelter and clothing
• Right to live with dignity
• Right to health care, to safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy

Right to Protection:
• Right to be protected from all sorts of violence
• Right to be protected from neglect
• Right to be protected from physical and sexual abuse
• Right to be protected from dangerous drugs

Right to Participation:
• Right to freedom of opinion
• Right to freedom of expression
• Right to freedom of association
• Right to information
• Right to participate in any decision making that involves him/her directly or indirectly

Right to Development:
• Right to education
• Right to learn
• Right to relax and play
• Right to all forms of development – emotional, mental and physical

Further, The Rights As Described In The Convention Have Been Summarised Into The Following Fundamentals With References To Various Articles.

Children are entitled to a name, legally registered with the government, and a nationality (to belong to a country). Further, they must have the right to an identity, in the form of a public record. This ensures national support, as well as access to social services.

Medical care, nutrition, protection from harmful habits (including drugs) and safe working environments are covered under the right to health, and articles 23 and 24 enumerate access to special care and support for children with special needs, as well as quality health care (including drinking water, nutrition, and a safe environment) respectively.

Right to free primary education is critical for helping children develop discipline, life skills while finding a safe and healthy environment to nurture a child’s physiological development. This includes freedom from violence, abuse or neglect.

If not family members, then children have the right to be looked after by caretakers. Children must live with their parents until it is harmful to them. However, ‘family reunification’, i.e. permission for family members living in different countries to travel to renew contact between family members is critical. Under the ward of a caretaker or family, they must be provided privacy against attacks on their way of life and personal history.

Children who do not have access to a family life, have a right to special care and must be looked after properly, by people who respect their ethnic group, religion, culture and language. Refugee children have a right to special protection and help. In the case of misdemeanours, children have the right to seek legal counsel under a juvenile justice mechanism, with the fair and speedy resolution of proceedings.

Protection from violence extends even to family members, and children must not suffer ill-treatment or sexual or physical violence. This includes use of violence as a means of discipline. All forms of sexual exploitation and abuse are unacceptable, and this Article takes into view the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

All children deserve the right to voice their opinions, free of criticism or contempt. In situations where adults are actively deciding upon choices on behalf of children, the latter are entitled to have their opinions taken into consideration. While children’s opinion may not be based on facts, it is nonetheless an important source of insight for parents, and should be considered. However, this depends on the child’s level of maturity and age. Children have the freedom of expression, as long as they are not harming others with their opinions and knowledge.

Armed conflict converts innocent children into refugees, prisoner, or participants in armed conflicts, and these are all circumstances which contravene with the spirit of War or any armed struggle can severely damage a child’s morale as well as perceptions of ethics, and this must be corrected in a nurturing safe environment. While seeking to rehabilitate children affected by war, the government must also ensure that children are not forced to participate in any armed struggle.

As exploitation is usually achieved through violent means, protection from violence is critical for freeing children from exploitation. This extends to abuse, negligence and violence by parents, even if it is justified as an instrument of achieving discipline at home. Further, children cannot be made to work in difficult or dangerous conditions. Children can only volunteer to work doing safe chores that do not compromise their health, or access to education or play. Sexual exploitation, another dimension of exploitation, is also prohibited, as an activity that takes advantage of them. Survivors of neglect, abuse and exploitation must receive special help to enable recovery and reintegration into society. Children also cannot be punished cruelly, even if it is under the ambit of the justice system. Death or life sentences, as well as sentences with adult prisoners, are not permitted.

Conclusion

All children deserve equality, despite their difference. They are entitled to all of these rights, no matter what race, colour, religion, language, ethnicity, gender or abilities define them.

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