Rights of Children in Our Society
This topic covers information related to child rights in our society.
Our country is the second largest populated country in the world and we also have the second largest child population after china and as we see around we still need to have to take measures to secure child rights for our children. The major issues concerned are about our girls and largely we need to protect rights of them too.
Child Protection & Child Rights
The articles are divided into two categories: Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy.
- Article 14- The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of laws with in the territory of India.
- Article 15- The State shall not discriminate against any citizen..Nothing in this Article shall prevent the State from making any special provisions for women and children.
- Article 21-No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.
- Article 21 A-The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of 6-14 years in such manner as the State may, by law, determine.
- Article 23-Traffic in human beings and beggary and other forms of forced labour are prohibited and any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.
- Article 24-No child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.
- The Constitution (86th Amendment) Act was notified on 13th December 2002, making free and compulsory education a Fundamental Right for all children in the age group of 6-14 years.
- Article 39(e) and (f) provides that the State shall, in particular, direct its policy towards securing to "ensure that the health and strength of workers, men and women and the tender age of children are not abused" and "that the citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength" and that "the children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity" and that the childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.
- Article 45- The State shall endeavour to provide early childhood care and education for all children until they complete the age of six years.
- Article 47- The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties
- Article 243G read with Schedule 11 - provide for institutionalization of child care by seeking to entrust programmes of Women and Child Development to Panchayat (Item 25 of Schedule 11), apart from education (item 17), family welfare (item 25), health and sanitation (item 23) and other items with a bearing on the welfare of children.
For more information on Child Protection & Child Rights - National Mechanisms
Acts and Rights
Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
The Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act 1976 talks of the illegality of slave or bonded labour with reference to both adults and children. For more information visit Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976
Factories Act, 1948
The Factories Act is an extensive and lengthy act that covers an endless number of concerns for labour working in factories. The following is an overview of provisions in the act that are relevant to children ages 0-18.
- The Act defines a child as a person who has completed him/her 15th year of age. It defines an adolescent as one who is has completed his/her 15th year of age but not completed his/her 18th year of age. A young person is defined as either a child or an adolescent.
- According to this Act it is the duty of a certified medical practitioner or surgeon to examine and medical condition and certifies all young people working in the factory. These examinations take place where a young person is or is going to be engaged in work that is injurious to his health.
- Under this Act a young person may not clean or lubricate the parts of any moving machinery that is likely to cause them injury.
For more information, visit Factories Act, 1948
Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods
Malnutrition is responsible for 55% of the infant mortality seen in India. Breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of an infant's life and complementary feeding up to two years age is essential to battle malnutrition. The purpose of the Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods Act 1992 and its 2003 amendment is to promote breast feeding of new born children and infants. It also looks to ensure that infant foods are regulated and used appropriately.
For more information, visit Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods
Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994
Families who discriminate against girl children prefer to abort the child before it is born. The boy child is preferred since he will carry on the family name, provides for the elders and is not a burden on the family at the time of marriage. In 1994 the Government of India in an attempt to stop female foeticide passed the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Act. In 2002 the act was amended.
The act firstly outlines provisions about the regulation of genetic counselling clinics, genetic laboratories and genetic clinics. All such clinics have to be registered under this act, and all medical professionals employed must have the appropriate qualification to conduct pre-natal diagnostic techniques.
The act prohibits the medical personnel from conducting or helping anyone conduct sex-selection.
For more information, visit Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994
Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995
This act is to safeguard the rights of Persons with Disabilities (PWD). On the 1st of January 1996 the Government of India passed the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act 1995. The following is an outline of the provisions in this law that pertains to children below the age of 18.
In this act disability is defined as blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, loco-motor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. The act calls for the government to take the necessary steps to ensure the prevention of disabilities. In accordance with this agenda, the government must screen all the children at least once a year to determine risk factors that lead to disability and attempt to protect the child from such factors. It is also necessary for the state to take measure to reduce risks to prenatal and post natal mothers and child.
For more information, visit Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995
Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
Child marriage is also associated with other problems like dowry and child widowhood. It is also associated with malnutrition, poor health of mothers and high fertility and hence over-population. According to the Act, a child is a male who has not completed twenty one years of age and a female who has not completed eighteen years of age. Child marriage is a contract between any two people of which either one or both parties is a child. Child marriage that took place before or after this Act can be made void by the person who was a child at the time of marriage. But the marriage must be voided before the person who was a child completes their second year of maturity.
For more information, visit Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006
Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986
In 1956, India passed the Suppression of Immoral Traffic in Women and Girls Act, 1956 (SITA). The Act was further amended and changed in 1986, resulting in the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act also know as PITA. The Act defines child as any person who has completed eighteen years of age. The first section of the act has provisions that outline the illegality of prostitution and the punishment for owning a brothel or a similar establishment, or for living of earnings of prostitution as is in the case of a pimp. Section five of the act states that if a person procures, induces or takes a child for the purpose of prostitution then the prison sentence is a minimum of seven years but can be extended to life. To ensure that the people in the chain of trafficking are also held responsible the act has a provision that states that any person involved in the recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring, or receiving of persons for the purpose of prostitution if guilty of trafficking. In addition any person attempting to commit trafficking or found in the brothel or visiting the brothel is punishable under this law.
For more information, visit Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986
Guardians and Wards Act, 1890
The Guardians and Wards Act, 1890 was a law to supersede all other laws regarding the same. It became the only non-religious universal law regarding the guardianship of a child, applicable to all of India except the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This law is particularly outlined for Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews as their personal laws don't allow for full adoption, only guardianship. It applies to all children regardless of race or creed.
According to this Act a minor/child is any person who has not completed 18 years of age. The court or appointed authority has the ability to decide the guardian of a child by appointing one a guardian or removing another as a guardian. No order will be passed without an application. Applications should contain all possible information about the child and guardian and reasons for guardianship. Once the court admits the application into court, then the court will set a date for the hearing. The court will hear evidence before making a decision. A minor and his property may have more than one guardian. The court must work in the interest of the minor, taking into consideration the age, sex, religion, character of the guardian, the death of the parent(s), relation of the child to the guardian, etc. The minor's preference may be taken into consideration.
For more information, visit Guardians and Wards Act, 1890
Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Adoption according to Indian law is a personal act and hence is governed by the various personal laws of the different religions. Adoption is not permitted in accordance to the personal law of Muslims, Christians, Parsis and Jews in India. Hence they usually opt for guardianship of a child through the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.The following is an outline of the provisions in this law that pertains to children below the age of 18.
This act applies to all Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains by religion. A child, legitimate or illegitimate, whose parent(s) or guardians were Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Sikh is also considered under this act. A person who converted to these religions is also considered under this act. According to the act a 'Hindu' is any person to whom this act applies. In this act a minor is any person who has not completed 18 years of age. This act supersedes any act concerning Hindu adoption and maintenance.
For more information, visitHindu Adoption and Maintenance Act, 1956
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989
The Act lists a description of all acts that are considered to be atrocities under this law. Some of these provisions are punishable up to five years and a fine such as forcing a SC or ST to eat or drink non-edible or obnoxious substances, forcibly parading a SC or ST person naked or any other act which is derogatory to human dignity, the use of or transfer of allotted land belonging to and SC or ST member, etc. Other atrocities have different punishments such as a person who gives false evidence against a SC/ST member in a court case will be punished with life imprisonment and a fine, arson of a SC/ST property is punishable up to seven years and a fine, any crime listed in the penal code that describes a punishment of ten year imprisonment or more and is committed against a SC/ST member or to his/her property is sentences to life imprisonment and fine under this act.
For more information, visit Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, 1989
The India Penal Code and Child related offences
Apart from the various acts concerning children, The Indian Penal Code (IPC) also has a list of offences against children. According to the sections 82 and 83 of the IPC a child who commits a crime and is below the age of seven is not considered to have committed a crime. A child who is between the ages of seven and twelve and is deemed to have immature understanding about the consequences of his/her actions is also considered incapable of committing a crime.
Section 315 and 316 discusses the offence of foeticide and infanticide. If a person commits an act with the intention of preventing the child from being born alive or an act that results in the death of the child after birth, that person is committing foeticide/infanticide as long as they do not do it in the interest of the mother's health or life. If a person does an act that amounts to culpable death which results in the quick death of an unborn child, he will be charged with culpable homicide. Section 305 states that it is a crime for any person to abet the suicide of a child, i.e. a person who has not completed eighteen years of age.
For more information, visit The India Penal Code and Child related offences
Source: Child Line India Org.