UNCARED CLASS

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 11 Feb 2018 09:35:45


Millions of street children are subject to daily physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Thousands of kids are recruited perforce by terrorist outfits. This is apart from the huge population of children of migrant labourers and other migrant classes who live in shanties.

They suffer illiteracy, poverty and chronic malnutrition and end up doing odd jobs, including involvement in antisocial activities. Who takes care of their social security in the growing years? Who takes care of their education and well-being? Is their condition much different from those suffering the outcomes of war?

CHILDREN caught in war zones are increasingly being used as weapons of war -- recruited to fight, forced to act as suicide bombers, and used as human shields, UNICEF has warned. UNICEF said parties to conflicts were blatantly disregarding international humanitarian law and children were routinely coming under attack. Rape, forced marriage, abduction and enslavement had become standard tactics in conflicts across Iraq, Syria and Yemen, as well as in Nigeria, South Sudan and Myanmar. Some children, abducted by extremist groups, are abused again by security forces when they are released. Others are indirectly harmed by fighting, through malnutrition and disease, as access to food, water and sanitation are denied or restricted. Some 27 million children in conflict zones have been forced out of school. Rohingya children in Myanmar were subject to systematic violence and driven from their homes. More than half of the 650,000 Rohingya forced over the border into Bangladesh are under 18.

 “Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s director of emergency programmes. The UNICEF statement has called on all parties in conflicts to immediately end violations against children and the targeting of civilian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. The agency also called on States with influence over non-State parties to conflict to use their influence to protect children. Children are one of the most vulnerable and uncared classes in society, especially in the Third World countries which are mired in war and sectarian violence apart from other inherent problems they face like poverty and poor healthcare facilities.

The situation in India is no better. Despite not being in any state of war, social security for children is minimal in the country. We are a country of millions of waifs and wastrels who live on the streets and sleep on footpaths and railway platforms. There are millions who live off begging all their lives, either for themselves or organised gangs and there are millions who don’t even live to see off their teenage years. Millions of street children are subject to daily physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Thousands of kids are recruited perforce by terrorist outfits. This is apart from the huge population of children of migrant labourers and other migrant classes who live in shanties in the cities in search of work or petty menial jobs. They suffer illiteracy, poverty and chronic malnutrition and end up doing odd jobs, including involvement in antisocial activities. Who takes care of their social security in the growing years? Who takes care of their education and well being? Is their condition much different from those suffering the outcomes of war? The situation is much worse in poorer countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan and much of South East Asia and Africa. Added to this there is a huge child trafficking racket operating in these countries which literally steal or purchase small kids from poor families and sell them off. There are lakhs of children engaged in various hazardous industries in various forms, often hideously and child labour in different ingenious garbs has still not ended in the country. There is always a way in India to bypass the law. Torture on kids in various forms continues even inadvertently in families and schools, which we often ignore or surpass. There is lack of information and education in much of the population on how to raise children. In schools, teachers are often found neglectful of children’s emotional needs and punishments of different types run rampant.

At homes, many parents are often so busy in their own engagements or professional commitments that there is little time to spare for the kids. This too is a kind of emotional torture which most children, especially in the urban-scape have to suffer. So, it is not just about war or conflict, which certainly is an extreme form of human rights violation in any case, but abuse in various forms continues in all societies in different forms and degrees. There is no fixed mechanism to address such social issues unless the stakeholders sit together and formulate sustainable ways to make the world more livable for our children. There can’t be any global action or resolution towards this, except loosely, because every country and society has to decide and handle according to its own scope and type of the problem, which greatly varies from place to place. Bangladesh problems cannot be India’s; India’s issues cannot be America’s.

Yes, by interactions, suggestions, sharing of studies and experiences we can always come to each other’s assistance but ultimately countries will need to devise solutions and work earnestly towards assuaging the problems children face. There is bound to be issues coming up in the way of any concerted action, like fund crunch and lack of comprehensive data to act on, etc but to be fair, it is a matter of priority and concern. Governments spend huge money on wars and other extravagant pursuits, and no country is so poor not to be able to allocate some fund for the welfare of children. We need to think of the future of the world. Children are the future of the world and we need to prepare them to carry forward humanity and its values. They are precious human resources who hold immense potential to change the world.