In the previous blog, we talked about the basic information about what Children’s Rights really stand for. This time, we will be talking in detail about those rights specifically.
The framework of contemporary child rights originated from the work of Eglantyne Jebb who was the founder of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations. To “claim certain rights for children”, she wrote the Geneva Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which is now the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Convention originates from Jebb’s desire to end the suffering of children, giving them instead of a healthy, happy and safe environment that nurtured them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
The rights as described in the Convention have been summarised into the following fundamentals with references to various articles.
- THE RIGHT TO AN IDENTITY (ARTICLES 7 AND 8)
Children are entitled to a name, legally registered with the government, and a nationality. 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. India suffers from one of the highest non-registration rates for children in the world. Only 41% of births are registered which leads to serious difficulties for these people because they cannot benefit from child-sensitive social protection services and programmes, as such are invisible in the eyes of society.
- THE RIGHT TO HEALTH (ARTICLES 23 AND 24)
Attention on access to health is a key indicator of attaining children’s rights. 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 mention the 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. Children also face other challenges including a high incidence of HIV infections, a lack of safe drinking water, and adequate sanitation.
- THE RIGHT TO EDUCATION, (ARTICLE 28)
The 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. Access to education in India remains a very problematic and key barrier to realizing children’s rights. The unequal distribution of education further marginalizes children especially those living in a rural area.
- THE RIGHT TO A FAMILY LIFE (ARTICLES 8, 9, 10, 16, 20, 22 AND 40)
The Indian constitution of 1950 asserts that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and the security of persons”, and that “no person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty…”. Children have the right to be taken care of by the family. If not family members, then they have the right to be looked after by caretakers. Children who do not have access to 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 the 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.
- THE RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED FROM VIOLENCE (ARTICLE 19 AND 34)
Protection from violence extends even to family members, and children must not suffer ill-treatment or sexual or physical violence. This includes the use of violence as a means of discipline, e.g., corporal punishment. All forms of sexual exploitation and abuse are unacceptable, and this Article takes in to view the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
- THE RIGHT TO AN OPINION (ARTICLE 12 AND 13)
A contributing factor to the neglect of children is a result of cultural values which does not have high esteem and standing for the words and opinions of children. 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 is entitled to have their opinions taken into consideration. While children’s opinion may not be based on facts, it is nonetheless equally significant should be considered. Children have the freedom of expression, as long as they are not harming others with their opinions and knowledge.
- THE RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED FROM ARMED CONFLICT (ARTICLES 38 AND 39)
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. It must be ensured that children are not forced to participate in any armed struggle or any sort of violent activity that might harm the physical and mental health of the child.
- THE RIGHT TO BE PROTECTED FROM EXPLOITATION (ARTICLES 19, 32, 34, 36 AND 39)
As exploitation is usually carried out 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 in the form of corporal punishment. Survivors of neglect, abuse and exploitation must receive special help to enable recovery and reintegration into society. To fully realize children right to protection, it is important to adopt a kinder attitude towards children and their needs. It is also necessary to invest in educating and training caregivers on children’s fundamental right to protection, and prosecuting those who neglect it.
These rights are given to all the children across the globe, belonging to all distinct backgrounds irrespective of caste, class and gender.
(Featured Image from Google)
Written by Ayusshi.