India’s children too have suffered under the Modi Government, say child rights activists in an appeal issued online. Stating that the upcoming election is crucial for the future of children in India, who are in a state of crisis, they urged people to vote for “our children to grow up with tolerance and love”.
The appeal provides details of the regressive laws, budget cuts and crime that have affected the future of children. Among other things, the appeal cites that
“Let’s vote for Constitutional Rights for all children. Let’s vote against violence with impunity, cuts in funding for food, child care, education and killing in the name of religion and cow-vigilantism,” appealed Ruchira Gupta of Apne Aap Women Worldwide, an NGO working among women and children.
The appeal has been signed among others by Nabaneeta Dev Sen, writer, Shantha Sinha, Former Chairperson National Commission for Protection of Child Rights,
Jean Dreze, Economist and Social Activist, Ranchi, Deepa Mehta, film maker, Toronto Nilanjana Roy, children's book writer, Delhi, Radhika Menon, Children’s publisher, Tulika Publishers, Chennai, Sanjoy Roy, Founder Trustee Salaam Baalak Trust, New Delhi, Syeda Hameed, human rights activist and Devaki Jain, feminist economist and former director Institute of Social Studies Trust, Chennai.
Full text of the appeal:
There is no doubt that in the last five years, there has been a massive erosion of these Constitutional rights and of the wellness of India’s children.
Child protection: In 2016, the Global Slavery Index reported that India leads the world in modern slavery, sex, and labor trafficking. Children from vulnerable and marginalized groups have never been so insecure. Intolerance is being promoted actively. These children live in fear. Not only do they suffer from malnourishment, hunger and exploitation, but also have grossly inadequate childcare, and no practical access to education, increasingly children are victims of targeted and extreme violence like sexual abuse, trafficking and ‘cow lynching’.
As horrifying as it sounds, the rapes of children have increased by 82%. Equally horrifying is the fact that many of the child rapists continue to enjoy impunity, especially if the victims are Muslim, Dalit or OBC or other marginalized groups, as illustrated by the Kathua, Unnao and Muzaffarpur, Deoria and other shelter home cases.
Cow vigilantes have killed with impunity a 12-year-old Muslim boy traveling to an animal fair in Jharkhand and two other Muslim children in Dadri found with two buffaloes in their truck. The 12-year old was beaten to death and hung from a tree. The fanatical rapists and murderers have been protected and defended simply because of their party and religious affiliation.
Education: The chances of a disadvantaged child fighting for a better future are being further smothered as free schools are being shut down and scholarships for higher education are being de-funded.
History and science textbooks have been rewritten and now blatantly misrepresent historical facts by replacing them with myths. Textbooks and courses are re-enforcing regressive gender stereotypes.
Nutrition and childcare: 38% of children under age five years are stunted; 21 % of children under age five years are wasted, and 36% of children under age five are underweight –all signs of malnutrition and hunger.
May we take a moment to remind our nation that children have rights as citizens of India, to equality, to personal liberty and due process of law; to nutrition and health and education; to being protected from being trafficked and forced into bonded labour and of course the right of minorities and of weaker sections to be protected from discrimination, social injustice and all forms of exploitation.
Any attempt to demand better for our children is side-lined. We want this to change. We don’t want children to be abused and exploited, forced to work, not go to school, neglected or be discriminated against. We want resources and measures for education, child care, and child protection.
Most of all, we want our children safeguarded and their rights as equal citizens of India to be protected.
Let’s vote for all rights for ALL children. India’s 480 million children deserve better. They can’t vote today, you can.
Let’s vote for love, not hate.