In India, we have many laws regarding children, which actively work for preventing child labor in India. There are not only laws, there are NGOs who are working for the protection of child rights in India. How many of these are actually working? There needs to be a ground-level reality check. We have laws regarding child rights from the very beginning but we can still find children working in tea shops etc.
Analyzing the Convention, the rights which have been provided to children are:
Right to Survival:
- Right to be born – This is basically for the girl child, who is killed even before she is born, due to her gender.
- Right to minimum standards of food, shelter and clothing – Where they should be provided with these minimum standards and all the right amenities with which a child can grow up in a proper environment.
- Right to live with dignity – They should have a right to live with dignity where they should be protected from any sort of exploitation.
- Right to health care, safe drinking water, nutritious food, a clean and safe environment, and information to help them stay healthy – This should be ensured by the Government.
Right to Protection:
- Right to be protected from all sorts of violence, right to be protected from physical and sexual abuse, right to be protected from dangerous drugs.
These are the rights which are provided by the laws yet problems persist. The ground reality speaks of poverty in India poverty that the parents of these children, themselves, send them to work because the extra earnings help to maintain the family. The main problem is a lack of awareness where these people do not have a proper place to live but they have many children and no source of income because of which they need to send their children to work. If any NGO approaches them to help them send their children to school or to provide them with proper basic facilities, the parents oppose any changes because then it would become difficult to maintain the entire family, without the extra income.
Child protection is thus, the means through which all other rights of a child can be upheld. For example, a child has a right to live a normal childhood in a family environment, but sometimes even the parents are not providing them with these. The child protection framework needs to first take steps to ensure families are able to survive by providing them with health, education, and food for free or at minimal cost. The next step is to address the needs of the children who have fallen through the cracks such as destitute, abandoned, and orphan children. Only if the effort is made to increase awareness and improve livelihoods, there is a possibility for change, otherwise I do not feel that child labor and other such practices can be successfully eradicated in India.
“But Child Protection is more than a right. It is a framework or system by which the rights of a child can come to be. The framework consists of various duty bearers such as the departments of the government, police, school, civil society, who all have roles to play to ensure that a child’s rights are met, and in the case that a child’s rights are violated, that the violator be brought to justice and care be provided to the child.”
Hence, for successful upholding of child rights, it is essential that the government supports the awareness system of the parents and takes further steps to eradicate poverty.
By: Piyali Pan