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Absolute number of Rapes against Children up by five times in the last two decades: new Child Rights Report

New Delhi: Thirty years after global leaders promised to protect the rights of all children, millions are still not in school, face poverty, exploitation, violence, neglect, and abuse.

A new India report, Child Rights in India – An Unfinished Agenda, states that as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), absolute number of rapes against children has increased approximately five times between 1994 and 2016, which is a cause of great concern to child protection in the country. The study has also identified that social disaggregation on the lines of gender, social groups and religion increase vulnerability of children and their ability to demand their rights. Disability and situations of disaster only make it worse.

Releasing the report at an event, Mr Yaduvendra Mathur, Special Secretary, Knowledge Innovation Hub, NITI Aayog, said, “I would like to congratulate the six organisations for coming together in spirit of partnership and collaborating for the rights of children. I would also invite the Joining Forces to collaborate with NITI Aayog on addressing the child rights concerns with focus on achieving child-focused SDGs within the ambit of NITI Aayog’s aspirational districts interventions. I would also emphasize the collaboration on Poshan Abhiyan, and also in monitoring the progress on key child focused indicators.”

Additionally, Mr Yashwant Jain, Member, NCPCR added, “We have the hope that things will change for children and for this it is very essential that all stakeholders work together with intent and honesty to ensure that all the laws and programmes designed for children are implemented effectively. Accurate diagnosis focusing on the context of India needs to be done for corrective actions.”

Prepared by Joining Forces for Children – India, an alliance of the six leading child-focused organizations, the report acknowledges India’s historic progress in combating under-5 deaths due to preventable causes, which has reached current global average of 39 per 1000 live births, and is more likely to achieve the SDG target. The India report is alignedtothe global report – A Second Revolution: 30 years of child rights, and the unfinished agenda-recently launched by Joining Forces Alliance at New York.

“India has progressed well on a number of child related indicators, including introducing a number of legislations and policies that are commendable. However, even today, violation of child rights is of great concern. We call upon the government to develop a strong and robust system to meet the child rights obligations of the country to ensure that every child has the right to survival, development, protection and participation,” echoed representatives of the alliance that has brought out the India report.

As per the report, though progress has been noted in reducing malnutrition, the rate of reduction, however, is not as desired. In India, NFHS-4 data (2015-16) states that 38.4 percent children are still stunted, which is disconcerting. The report also identifies four specific components of child rights that have received lesser attention –sexual and reproductive health; access to play, recreation and leisure; family and community-based protection mechanisms and engagement of children in decision-making at family and community level.

Areas with significant progress include universal enrolment in primary education as literacy rate among 7-14 years children has gone up from 64 per cent (Census 1991) to 88 per cent (Census 2011). The proportion of women in the age group of 20-24 years who got married before the age of 18 has declined from 47.4 per cent in NFHS-3 (2005-06), to 26.8 per cent in NFHS-4 (2015-16).

The report highlights the urgency to address the political, social and economic factors inhibiting child rights and the ineffective implementation of policies and programmes. It reinforces an urgent need to build on the opportunities provided   by progressive social legislations and programmes, presence of statutory child rights institutions and strong civil society presence.

The alliance is calling on the government to prioritise child rights as enshrined under the UNCRC and the SDGs. This includes:

“Listen to us,” said Manisha, a young child rights champion from Mumbai, who also represented India in New York, where the global report was launched. “We have the right to a say on the discussions that affect our lives. I was in New York for the global report launch, talking on behalf of all children in my country and I urge our government to stand with us and for us in making this country safe for its children and where every child enjoys basic rights of surviving and thriving.”

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