India, with its vast population and diverse demographics, is home to millions of children who are facing grave violations of their human rights.
Despite being a signatory to various international conventions and having a legal framework in place, India continues to grapple with persistent issues such as child labor, child marriage, child trafficking, and child abuse, among others, which result in a silent crisis that demands urgent attention. In this article, we will explore the current state of violations of the human rights of children in India, delve into the latest statistics, and discuss the need for addressing this pressing issue.
Almost in every city in hotels and dhabas, children are employed as staff. Despite being minors they have to work like adults. Though there exist enough provisions of law making it illegal to employ children, it has failed to prevent this illegality.
In the small town of Ramgarh, there is a hotel. Deep in the heart of the hotel, in its dark and cramped basement, lived a young boy named Ravi. Ravi was only 10 years old but had been forced to work at the hotel for as long as he could remember. His parents were poor and couldn’t afford to send him to school, so they had no choice but to send him to work in the hotel to earn a meager income.
Ravi’s days started before dawn as he was responsible for cleaning the hotel’s corridors and sweeping the floors. He would work tirelessly, often skipping meals and enduring harsh treatment from the hotel staff. He was also responsible for fetching water, running errands, and doing any other menial tasks assigned to him. Despite his young age, Ravi was treated as a servant and was often subjected to verbal and physical abuse.
Ravi’s and his kind dreams of going to school and playing with other children still seem like a distant fantasy. They are trapped in a cycle of exploitation, working long hours without any breaks and facing harsh consequences if they don’t meet the demands of the hotel staff.
Child Labour in India: A Persistent Problem
Child labor is a chronic issue in India, which continues to be a grave violation of the rights of children. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), there are an estimated 10 million child laborers in India, which constitutes the highest number of child laborers in the world. These children are often engaged in hazardous occupations such as brick kilns, mines, fireworks factories, and agricultural fields, where they are exposed to dangerous working conditions, denied access to education, and exploited by unscrupulous employers.
The latest statistics on child labor in India are alarming. As per the Census of India 2011, there were 10.1 million child laborers in the age group of 5-14 years, and out of them, 5.6 million were boys and 4.5 million were girls. According to the National Sample Survey (NSS) 2011-12, the number of child laborers in India increased from 10.2 million in 2001 to 10.1 million in 2011, indicating that the problem persists despite efforts to combat it.
Child labor not only deprives children of their right to education, health, and safe and healthy childhood but also has long-term consequences on their physical, psychological, and emotional well-being. Child laborers are often trapped in a cycle of poverty, and their exploitation perpetuates intergenerational poverty and inequality. Efforts to eliminate child labor in India need to be intensified, with a focus on addressing the root causes, such as poverty, lack of access to education, and weak enforcement of labor laws.
Child Marriage: A Violation of Children’s Rights
Child marriage is a prevalent issue in many parts of India and constitutes a severe violation of the rights of children. Despite the legal age for marriage being 18 for girls and 21 for boys, child marriage continues to be practiced in several communities, especially in rural areas.
According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4) conducted in 2015-16, nearly 27% of girls in India are married before the age of 18, and 7% are married before the age of 15.
The latest statistics on child marriage in India highlight the magnitude of the problem. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20, the prevalence of child marriage among girls aged 20-24 has declined from 26.8% in NFHS-4 to 22.3% in NFHS-5. However, the practice of child marriage is still prevalent in several states, such as Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, and Jharkhand, among others.
Child marriage has serious implications for the health, education, and development of children, particularly girls. Child brides are often forced to drop out of school, face early pregnancies, and are at higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. They are also more vulnerable to domestic violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation. Efforts to combat child marriage in India should focus on changing social norms and practices, improving access to education, raising awareness about the harmful consequences of child marriage, and enforcing existing laws more rigorously.
Child Trafficking: A Growing Menace
Child trafficking, a form of modern-day slavery, is a grave violation of the rights of children and is on the rise in India. Children, particularly those from marginalized communities, are trafficked for various purposes such as labor exploitation, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, and organ trade, among others. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 3,600 cases of child trafficking reported in India in 2019, a significant increase from the previous years.
The latest statistics on child trafficking in India are alarming. According to a report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), between 2016 and 2018, there were 19,223 children reported missing in the country, out of which 12,609 were not traced. The report also highlighted that there were 4,067 registered cases of child trafficking during the same period, with 2,900 children being rescued. These numbers indicate the magnitude of the problem and the urgent need for action to prevent and combat child trafficking.
Child trafficking has severe and long-lasting consequences for the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of children. Trafficked children are often subjected to physical and sexual abuse, exploitation, and trauma. They are denied their basic rights, including the right to education, health, and protection. Efforts to combat child trafficking in India should focus on strengthening law enforcement, addressing the root causes such as poverty and lack of social protection, and providing comprehensive support and rehabilitation services to the survivors.
Child Abuse: A Hidden Crisis:
Child abuse, including physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, is a hidden crisis in India and constitutes a grave violation of the rights of children. Children are vulnerable to abuse in various settings, including homes, schools, communities, and institutions. According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, there were 3,27,394 reported cases of child abuse in India in 2019, a significant increase from the previous years.
The latest statistics on child abuse in India are concerning. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there were 89,423 reported cases of crimes against children in 2019, including rape, kidnapping, and assault, among others. Out of these cases, 66,172 cases were related to child sexual abuse. These numbers are likely to be underreported as child abuse often goes unnoticed or unreported due to social stigma, fear, and lack of awareness.
Child abuse has serious and long-term consequences for the physical, psychological, and emotional well-being of children. It can have a detrimental impact on their mental health, self-esteem, and overall development. Efforts to prevent and address child abuse in India should focus on raising awareness, strengthening child protection mechanisms, providing support and counseling services to the survivors, and ensuring stringent legal action against the perpetrators.
Conclusion: Addressing the Silent Crisis
The violations of the human rights of children in India, including child labor, child marriage, child trafficking, and child abuse, among others, constitute a silent crisis that demands urgent attention. The latest statistics on these issues highlight the magnitude of the problem and the need for concerted efforts to address the root causes and provide comprehensive support to the survivors.
Efforts to combat violations of the human rights of children in India should be multi-faceted and focus on a combination of legal, policy, and programmatic interventions. There is a need for effective implementation of existing laws and conventions, as well as stringent enforcement mechanisms to hold perpetrators accountable.
Alongside legal and enforcement measures, there is a need for raising awareness, changing social norms and practices, improving access to education, healthcare, and social protection, and providing comprehensive support