“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.”
-Dave Pelzer, A Child Called “It”
Child abuse can be physical abuse, emotional or psychological or sexual abuse. It can be defined as any act, negligence or failure on part of any individual that may lead to severe threat to the life and development of a child. It can result in prolonged physical or psychological impacts on his/her mental health. Child labour perpetuates poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, population growth, and other social problems
Our country is home to more than 19 percent of the world’s children thus making it the largest child population in the world. Our constitution provides various rights for children through numerous acts and amendments. Article 24 provides that “No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment”. Regardless of such articles and acts children are the most vulnerable section of our society and are subject to such abuse. Child labour is the most common abuse across our country. Child labour involves- slavery and forced labour, child trafficking, the use of children in illicit activities, use of children for pornography and prostitution and other prohibited activities. Countries like China and Mongolia are trying to eliminate child labour by ratifying contentions.
Some of the articles like Article 14 of the constitution of India ensures that every citizen which includes man, woman and children is equal in the eyes of law. Under the Directive Principles of the State Policy, Article 39(e) provides that the State must ensure the health and strength of the workers and children of tender age are not abused. Article 39(f) of DPSP directs the state to ensure that children are provided facilities and opportunities for development.
Although these laws exist, children are forced to work in factories of crackers, arms and ammunition and other dangerous areas. An amendment was made to the POCSO Act further to protect children from sexual offences.
The impact of abuse on children whether physically or mentally, is irrevocable and harmful. It not only affects the present of the child but also his or her future. The child may develop eating disorders, anxiety issues, fear, sleeping disorders. He/she might have problems in developing trust relationships with people because of the past experiences.
Child abuse is a heinous crime and must be stopped. It has adverse effects on the growth and development of the child. A research done stated that “child abuse not only impairs the child’s productivity but also vandalises the process of socialisation of the child”. Hence it is necessary that steps must be taken to awaken the society and protect children from such abuse. This is when NGOs play an important role in awakening the society about such issues. Navratan Foundations is one such NGO which believes that children are precious, so let them be children, not workers. It believes that education and awareness are the key to curb child abuse.
Student at Symbiosis Law School