India has the worlds largest child population of 400 million and this is not a very good news. Children in India are some of the most abused in the world. Whether it is health, education, standard of living, crime or safety India has the worst numbers. India has one of the fastest growing economies with an average growth rate of 6.1% yet this growth has not let to development it to face the challenges of poverty, illiteracy, corruption, malnutrition and inadequate public healthcare.Children therefore are the most vulnerable to these problems.
According to the CRY(Child Rights and You):
The situation of underprivileged children in India
- 40% of India’s population is below the age of 18 years which at 400 million is the world’s largest child population.
- Less than half of India’s children between the age 6 and 14 go to school.
- A little over one-third of all children who enroll in grade one reach grade eight.
- One in every ten children is disabled in India.
- 95 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their fifth birthday.
- 70 in every 1000 children born in India, do not see their first birthday.
- Only 38% of India’s children below the age of 2 years are immunized.
- 74% of India’s children below the age of 3 months are anemic.
- More than one in three women in India and over 60% of children in India are anemic.
- Acute respiratory infections are leading causes of child mortality (30%) followed by diarrhoea (20%) in India.
- One in every 100 children in India between age group of 0-14 years suffers from acute respiratory infection.
- Almost one in every five children in India below the age of 14 suffers from diarrhoea. 30-40% of the India’s population, which is largely economically deprived, spends over 70% of their total expenditure on food.
- Among married women in India today, 75% were under age at the time of their marriages.
- While one in every five adolescent boys is malnourished, one in every two girls in India is undernourished.
- 23% of India’s children are underweight at birth.
- 58% of India’s children below the age of 2 years are not fully vaccinated. And 24% of these children do not receive any form of vaccination.
- More that 50% of India’s children are malnourished.
- In India, only 53% of habitation have a primary school.
- In India, only 20% of habitation have a secondary school.
- On an average an upper primary school is 3 km away in 22% of areas under habitations.
- In nearly 60% of schools, there are less than two teachers to teach Classes I to V.
- On an average, there are less than three teachers per primary school. They have to manage classes from I to V every day.
- Dropout rates increase alarmingly in class III to V, its 50% for boys, 58% for girls.
- 1 in 40, primary school in India is conducted in open spaces or tents.
- More than 50 per cent of girls fail to enroll in school; those that do are likely to drop out by the age of 12.
- 50% of Indian children aged 6-18 do not go to school
Situation of the Girl Child
In addition to the deaths of infants and children due to undernourishment and disease, innumerable and unrecorded numbers of girl children are killed within hours of being born while many others are killed in the womb itself. Patriarchal norms, low status of women and preference for male children are the primary reasons that threaten survival of female children in India. The alarming fact is that female infanticide or fetuses has increased over the past few decades. While in 1960 there were 976 girls born for every 1000 boys, in 2001, there are only 927 girls for every 1000 boys.
- 1 out of every 6 girls does not live to see her 15th birthday.
- Of the 12 million girls born in India, 1 million do not see their first birthday.
- Every sixth girl child’s death is due to gender discrimination.
- 1 out of 4 girls is sexually abused before the age of 4.
- Female mortality exceeds male mortality in 224 out of 402 districts in India.
- Death rate among girls below the age of 4 years is higher than that of boys. Even if she escapes infanticide or foeticide, a girl child is less likely to receive immunisation, nutrition or medical treatment compared to a male child.
- 53% of girls in the age group of 5 to 9 years are illiterate.
Children are often treated as the “property” of the very adults who are supposed to care for them; they are ordered around, threatened, coerced, silenced, with complete disregard of them as “persons” with rights and freedoms.
- 17 million children in India work as per official estimates.
- A study found that children were sent to work by compulsion and not by choice, mostly by parents, but with recruiter playing a crucial role in influencing decision.
- When working outside the family, children put in an average of 21 hours of labor per week
- 90% working children are in rural India.
- 85% of working children are in the unorganized sectors.
- About 80% of child labour is engaged in agricultural work.
- 25% of the victims of commercial sexual exploitation in India are below 18 years of age.
- Millions of children work to help their families because the adults do not have appropriate employment and income thus forfeiting schooling and opportunities to play and rest.
- Large numbers of children work simply because there is no alternative – since, they do not have access to good quality schools.
- Poor and bonded families often “sell” their children to contractors who promise lucrative jobs in the cities and the children end up being employed in brothels, hotels and domestic work. Many run away and find a life on the streets.
All children have the right to be protected from work that interferes with their normal growth and development. Abandoned children, children without families and disabled children need special care and protection.
Child commercial sex workers
- There are approximately 2 million child commercial sex workers between the age of 5 and 15 years and about 3.3 million between 15 and 18 years.
- They form 40% of the total population of commercial sex workers in India.
- 80% of these are found in the 5 metros.
- 71% of them are illiterate.
- 500,000 children are forced into this trade every year.
Mentally/ physically challenged children
- 3% of India’s children are mentally/physically challenged.
- 20 out of every 1000 rural children are mentally/physically challenged, compared to 16 out of every 1000 urban children.
- Mentally/physically challenged girls are at a particular risk to violence and abuse.
The Indian Constitution clearly states that every child has the right to free and compulsory elementary education, right to be protected from any hazardous employment, right to be protected form being abused and forced, right to equal opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom, dignity, guaranteed protection of childhood and youth against exploitation, against moral and material abandonment. Despite these provisions children in India have been denied these rights and exploited.
What can you do?
Many organisations have taken initiatives to improve the lives of these children. As fellow citizens we need to join hands with these organisations so that the children in our country may enjoy a brighter future. Please check the links below to take help: