The Aligarh killing shows how we continue to fail our future generation and pawn it mindlessly without a redressal mechanism
Another cold-blooded killing of a two-and-a-half-year old girl, possibly involving assault too, just to punish her family for non-payment of a loan, led to much shock and awe. But the Aligarh case is symptomatic of the lack of societal will to nurture our future generation and protect the innocence of childhood on an actionable basis beyond expressing regret. Till then, vulnerable children will continue to be pawned for adult aberrations and greed. Already the brutalisation of children has had its adverse impact in many of them turning to deviant and violent behaviour. Such incidents cannot be a conscience call anymore but need drastic action. Yes, five cops have been suspended but why was there no deterrent for their wilful ignorance or light-hearted treatment of a missing child complaint? What comfort zone have we allowed to seep into the police force that lets them decide the severity of a crime? In this case, the body of the child was allowed to fester in a garbage dump. If the killing was bad enough, this apathy for action in the case was the worst.
India’s record in violation of child rights is frightening to say the least and has reduced our kids to a ransomable value and a subject of exchange rates. Child trafficking is one of the major problems with a child being abducted and sold every eight minutes, according to past crime data. Often parents trade the child themselves to beat their poverty levels. Sexual offences committed against children are so high that about 50 per cent of our kids go through the ordeal of molestation and assault by the time they are adolescents. And despite the provision of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), the implementation and processes are so tardy that the affected child may well turn an adult before he finds justice. Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has worked out that for cases registered in 2016, there is no hope of them being resolved by even 2022. Some states like Gujarat may have to wait for 50 years for a full resolution given the backlog of cases. We also continue to figure high in the global index of child homicides. And for all talk of fundamental rights, India has one of the largest numbers of child labourers in the world. This is primarily due to lack of accountability in labour laws and migration and separation of families to cities. All this is complicated by a police set-up which is hostile to rather than being sensitive to cases involving children.
Protection of child rights can happen when we inculcate an awareness about them at the school level but figures show that there has been a growing incidence of crimes against children in educational institutions. Past data shows that roughly two out of every three school-going children have reported corporal punishments and 60 percent of these cases were in government and municipal schools. When protectors and nurturers fail and turn exploiters instead, when institutions fail to erect a framework based on basic human rights and justice, then there can be no stopping cases like the one at Aligarh. Till there are no effective deterrents, severe punishment meted out to errants in real time and healing affected children through redressal systems and psychological assistance, there can be no justice. Incidences of child rights violation in India are reflective of the fact that we are becoming more self-centered and refusing to look at a larger picture which can become an incurable malady. Child rights violations need to be addressed at the micro levels, within local contexts and communities, with the help of government bodies, NGOs, schools and even faith leaders. The taboos need to go and parents should be encouraged to pursue such violations without fear or shame. That this happened to a girl child should make us question whether all empowering schemes would mean anything at all if the girls are not allowed to grow in the first place.
Courtesy: The Pioneer