Issue of violence against children and their protection- In a global perspective
Author: K. Gayatari Devi
Dr. B. R. Ambedkar College of Law, Andhra University, Visakhapatnam
This article emphasizes on the contemporary issue of violence against children and their protection in view of the global perspective. Explore various legal aspects available in relation to the issue of violence against children and the scope of protection for children across different segments of society. It discusses the role of caregivers at different levels like at individual, relationship, community & institutional and societal levels. It explores Elaborate various issues of violence and their consequences that leave everlasting impacts on the minds of the children. United Nations Organisation and its allied institutions offer a multi-level platform to identify and address the causes of violence against children like due to lack of education, social norms, unawareness, traditional practices and superstitions to an extent. This also discusses the major health hazards (physical as well as mental) that are caused due to the effect of violence. Also, address the application of techniques like rehabilitation and reintegration for the children who had been victims of such violence. This article also identifies the child protection issues and a range of stakeholders involving in the protection. It objectifies the role of State Governments and various other Institutions that are set out to protect the children and their rights.
Before we actually learn into the issues concerning the children, it is important to know “who is a child”. Any person who is below the 18 years of age is considered to be a “child” and it is as provisioned under Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The CRC is an international law instrument that recognises and evaluates for the issues concerning the children globally and was ratified by all the countries apart from the USA. It contains certain principles as fundamental guidelines like Protection and Development of the Child, Best Interest of the Child, Equality and Respect for all the children without any discrimination. A child is deemed to be the Right-Holder of protection and care from any sort of deprivation, harm and violence.
VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN–
Children are often than not regarded as the most vulnerable sector of human classes, who have been constantly the victims of violence. And, it could be merely due to which they cannot speak for themselves, their voices are unheard or lack of having the legal status unlike adults. Hence they are taken for granted for committing many ill-deeds like crimes and violence against them. Violence against children may take place in numerous forms and ways. Lets discuss the below which are some of the popular forms of violence and also the causes which lead to commit such violence against children.
ISSUES OF VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN–
Violence against children means a mere causing of harm to them and/or exploiting the rights of the children for which they are basically entitled to. Violence against a child may take place at different levels of society such as at home, schools, care-institutions (like orphanages, hostels, refugee centers, etc.), communities and neighborhoods.Violence is prevalent during different phases of a child’s life as infants, at later stages of childhood and at adolescence. It is even worse when the caregivers themselves turn into perpetrators of violence against a child. Here are some of the major forms of violence against children at a global scale:
- Corporal Punishment
- Sexual Abuse/Exploitation
- Child Trafficking
- Child Labour
- Child Marriage
- Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting
- Violence against children during Armed Conflict
‘Corporal Punishment’ has been a common form of violence since ages. It is nothing but inflicting a physical harm to a child by any forceful means. It includes thrashing, hitting, throwing or any such act causing physical harm or bodily harm to a child consequentially. Such type of punishment is given to children even at home and at schools as a means of teaching discipline to them, or for disobeying with their parents or teachers. This type of violence affects the child’s sensitivity, growth and thereby leaving them in fear, isolation, unwanted and weak. Corporal punishment is in existence across the world in many countries.
‘Sexual Exploitation’ is another grave form of violence against children especially with girls more often than not with boys. Often the children from poor families, children on the move (migration), orphans are most vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. Sexual abuses might also take place at homes, schools, workplaces, etc. ‘Commercial Sexual Exploitation’ is which happens between inter-states mostly at a much larger scale by trade/exporting these children for an economical purpose (Sale of Children). Child Pornography and Prostitution are also part of this sexual exploitation.
‘Child Trafficking’ means ill-legal trade or movement of children from a place to another solely for the exploitation purpose. Child Trafficking is a crime that is often a tough nut to crack for the Law Enforcement officials as it needs to be dealt with some of the critical issues like informants, jurisdiction, laws and other issues. Therefore, the prevention of trafficking in children became a prime concern for the governments, NGOs and other institutions/agencies. Again, most vulnerable children who are orphans, homeless, poor, uneducated, from rural backgrounds are prone to this violence.
‘Child Labour’ is another form of forced violence against children, especially those who are economically deprived. Here children are made to work forcefully or voluntarily especially in unorganized sectors due to the prevailing poor financial conditions of their families. Not just poverty being the only cause for child labour, there are also other reasons like illiteracy, urban migration, etc., which compromise the children from holding their rights.
‘Child Marriage’ is a violence that is prevalent mostly in under-developed and developing countries including India, Africa and South America. It is considered of being practiced as a culture, tradition, or a widely accepted social norm mostly in the remote regions of these countries. Child marriage often leads to domestic violence and shows adverse effects on the growth and development of a child both psychologically and physically. Hence it is a fundamental human rights violation.
‘Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting’ (FGM) is strong violence against a girl child which results in them facing traumatic consequences at a personal and societal level. It is a mere violation of the rights of the child and is widely practiced in many African countries especially in Ghana.
Children below 15 years of age are not allowed to involve in any armed conflict. That means they are not to be recruited by any government or organization or agency in the event of armed conflict and war. Armed conflict is a mere gross violation of human rights. Violations against children while in Armed Conflict might involve killings & maiming of children, recruitment of children as soldiers, abduction, and denial of humanitarian access of children. In the year 2000, and Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in Armed Conflict (OPAC) was brought into the picture. During situations like civil war, armed conflict or war, civilians tend to migrate across the borders and thereby land themselves either in transits or refugee camps where they might face challenges of discrimination on nationality, ethnicity, gender, age, etc.
EFFECTS OF VIOLENCE AGAINST CHILDREN–
Children who are victims of violence are often faced with deprivation and difficulty in coping up with such impact of negativity. Experiencing violence leaves an everlasting impact on the tender minds of children which affect their overall growth and development. Some brutal forms of violence like sexual abuse, drug abuse, armed conflict or war often lead to a psychological drawback on the child. Consequently, it becomes difficult to the child to overcome such emotional traumatic experiences. Violence affected children might turnout themselves into perpetrators of crime and against the society, for which collateral steps like Rehabilitation & Reintegration are needed to adopt.
CHILD PROTECTION ISSUES–
Protection is a fundamental and human right of the child, be it protection from discrimination, violence, harm or any kind of deprivation. Child Protection is an important issue of the Human Rights Declaration of the United Nations. A number of issues and guidelines relating to the rights and protection of children have been enclosed in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The mechanisms under the UN that provide for the protection and safeguarding the children includes UNICEF, CRIN, CRC, UNDHCR, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights.
Now that we are aware it is a primary duty and responsibility of the caregiver to care, nurture and protect the child from harm and help them grow into well-accomplished individuals. There are a few vital points that describe the protection for the child-
- Non-Discrimination of a child
- Ensuring life, survival and development of a child
- Giving adequate weight to the views and ideas of a child
- Evaluate and draw outcomes in the best interests of the child
ROLE OF “STAKEHOLDERS” IN PROTECTION OF CHILDREN–
Building a Protective environment is a crucial factor for children to grow and accomplish. There is a need for various Stakeholders like the Parents, Family or other care-givers, institutions, and communities, NGOs and critically the State Government to ensure the protection of the children.
- State’s responsibility for child protection involves making appropriate Legislations, by-laws, and other executive actions of the government ensuring the safety and protection of the children. Ensuring proper implementation of child welfare schemes and programs like Early Childhood Development, Primary Education, foster care or other alternative care for children. Therefore, State is a duty-bearer of the Rights of the Child and it has to build & sustain a strong political will regarding the same.
- Institutions like schools, day-care centers, foster care services, NGOs, orphanages, and other social workers are also intended to thrive for the protection of the children. The care providers at these institutions are to be given the necessary training and compliance in order to handle different kinds of children like children with disabilities, traumatized & depressed children, or any vulnerable children. Hence they should be treated in a non-discriminative, impartial and sensitive way. Children without parents(both dead), abandoned by parents, on migration(during war or conflict) are often taken care of by the foster-care centers.
- Parents and Family play an inevitable role in the upbringing of a child. The safest and secure place for any child is their home and in few cases that too becomes unsafe heaven due to marital discords, parental disputes, domestic violence or corporal punishment, etc. In the absence of parents, a child may feel comfortable being with his/her extended relations like grandparents, uncle, aunt, etc., whom the child already has a rapport with. Some children are needed to be brought out of their homes & families in order to avoid the child to come into contact with the scenario of the violent and unhealthy environment at home. Such type of situations results in a traumatic impact on the growth and development of the child. The economic and social conditions of the family play a cardinal role which is needed to be addressed.
- At the global level, there are many international consultancies that work towards child protection. For instance, “Save the Children”, “SOS”, these organizations research, collects and identifies the indicators/factors concerning the protection of children and its related issues. International consultancies would act a key role in providing assistance and protection to children in circumstances like civil wars, armed conflicts, ill-legal immigration, forced migration or even cross-border trafficking. These consultancies mostly work in collaboration with different States/Governments and bridge the gap between the regional/national level and the international level operations to fight the violence.
A child is bestowed with the Rights to Life, to Education, to Participate, to Food, Health & Nutrition, to Safety, to be Heard (Article 12 of CRC), and be protected from all sorts of violence, etc. Protection does not mean merely by physical but also helping and ensuring the child to develop psychologically positive and strong. By creating awareness campaigns, programs that help the children and their caregivers to acquaint themselves with the rights of the child. Since the major development of a child is at a rapid rate during the infancy stage and early childhood stages, caregivers must pay utmost attention and be responsive to the child in a harmonious & compassionate way. Caregivers need to be enlightened about the importance of treating all the children equally without any bias and also provide them with sensitization and advocacy when needed. Integrated techniques must be adopted to keep the child stimulated and active. Also, there must stand an obligation for governments to allocate budget and provide necessary services in cases of emergency for the protection of children and their future.