20 Years of CRC-A Balance Sheet reveals violation of Child Rights

NEW DELHI, November 19, 2011

Despite 60 years of Constitutional guarantees and two decades after the signing of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, India's children still continue to face grave violation of their basic rights, an independent social audit has revealed.

“We do not have a National Policy for Children defining the ‘child'. In fact, the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) has time and again recommended that a uniform definition of the ‘child' be adopted in the policy and laws,” says the report on the social audit conducted by 172 organisations, campaigns and networks across the country of the laws and Constitutional guarantees for children in the country, and brought out by HAQ-Centre for Child Rights.

There are no measurable goals and targets and no reliable data on child reliability. Shifting of goals and irrationality in setting out targets to be achieved is clearly visible.

“We have crossed the deadline for ensuring registration of births, deaths and marriages by 2010 as a result of which targeted schemes for children such as conditional cash transfers cannot be accessed by the most needy due to lack of a birth certificate and proof of residence. School admissions are not possible and children in conflict with law are found languishing in adult jails. These are just a few problems. Lack of right to name and nationality implies denial of every right,'' says the social audit report, “20 Years of CRC – A Balance Sheet”, released here.

Listing out 57 laws and 60 legal provisions, nine policy documents, a separate plan of action for children and many goals and targets set out under five-year plans, 73 budgeted programmes and schemes of the Central government – all for children – from nine Ministries, a full-fledged Ministry to cater to children's rights and a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the report points out “yet there is no respite for children”.

Child labour, abuse

Problems arising from high incidence of malnutrition, the highest number of child labourers across the globe and topping of the ranks of child sexual abuse could not be explained as an offshoot of population explosion, the report said. “Even 20 years after ratification of the CRC, we are not ready to remove the declaration made on Article 32 of the Convention regarding elimination of child labour progressively. Increase in child labour from 11.26 million in 1991 to 12.66 million in 2001 show progressive increase in incidence of child labour than its elimination,'' it says.

The report touches upon the areas of skewed child sex ratio and the government's failure in prosecuting the offenders under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1992, slow process of setting up the State Commissions for the Protection of Child Rights, and the gaps in the implementation of the Right to Education Act.

“Privatisation of basic services, relying on foreign direct investments for industrial growth in order to reduce the fiscal deficit and cutting down on social sector expenditure for meetings the need through increased cess and levies on utility goods and loans from international funding agencies is not going to help the children,'' the audit report warns.