File photo of Kailash Satyarthi
File photo of Kailash Satyarthi | @k_satyarthi
Text Size:
  • 1K
    Shares

Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi is advocating for setting up a national children’s tribunal, on the lines of the National Green Tribunal.

In a latest, our very own Nobel Laureate, Kailash Satyarthi, is advocating the setting up a national children’s tribunal, on the lines of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), to deal with crimes against children in a time-bound and expeditious manner. In the past, Satyarthi has also been part of the advocacy for a “sex offender’s registry” in order to track child abusers and traffickers, which, incidentally, may soon see the light of day.

Most child-related laws today have a system for time-bound inquiry and trial built into the law. Should Satyarthi not demand better implementation, rather than yet another mechanism?

Is the answer to non-implementation of existing laws more laws? Is the answer to the tardy implementation of systems the creation of more systems and institutions?

Satyarthi is not the only one. In the last few months, a slew of states have moved to pass laws awarding the death penalty to those convicted of raping minors – Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Arunachal Pradesh and even Delhi.

The recently introduced ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018’ is yet another legislation being added to the already fragmented landscape of laws on human trafficking. It has brought with it more complicated systems and institutions for redressal.

We know children want the abuse to stop. But, will death penalty for an abuser act as deterrent for disclosure by child victims, rather than deterrent for abusers? A recent study by our group ‘HAQ: Centre for Child Rights’, based on the cases we handle, shows that over 80 per cent of the accused are persons that the child knew, and therefore trusted. About 52 per cent of cases of incest are committed by the victims’ fathers. The others are brothers, uncles, and other ‘loved ones’.

The life of an abused child does not operate in black and white. Children hate the abuse, but continue to love the abuser because of the biological relationship. Knowing that the disclosure may lead to death – including in many cases of their own father – will children still speak up and report them?

Any judge will tell us that the more stringent and penal the provision for punishment, the more hesitant they are to pronounce it. The answer is better prosecution, and certainty of conviction, instead of more stringent punishments.

Children of convicts face stigma, as do the victims themselves. Will having the names of fathers and other family members on the Sex Offenders Registry be bringing greater justice to children? Or will it add to their stigmatisation and ostracisation?

Let us look at what has happened in the recent past.

Despite so many people recommending the contrary, the government went ahead with the provisions for mandatory reporting, and the raising of age of consent to 18 years in the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012. This was their way of telling the nation that it was taking measures to protect children, and that everyone better shut up. So, we all did.

Now we hear cries of ‘misuse of law’ as young people get arrested for underage consensual activity. As if that is not enough, a Supreme Court order has now made underage sexual activity even in marriage an offence – even as the child marriage continues to be legal and voidable.

Doctors and even other service providers are refusing to provide basic services to children for fear of penal action for non-reporting, and children who are pregnant have to go to illegal underground abortion clinics, putting their lives in danger.

In the last three years, we have seen the amendment and enactment of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, which ‘responded to public sentiment’ and introduced the waiver of child offenders into the adult system.

This, despite two Supreme Court judgements and many other voices suggesting the change in law should be preceded by proper implementation of the existing law in philosophy and spirit. Those baying for the blood of the ‘juvenile’ in Jyoti Singh’s case (Nirbhaya) were largely from the middle class, which had a very ‘specific image of the dangerous juvenile who walks scot-free because of the law’.

With the recent incidents, such as that of the suspected child offender in the Ryan School murder case, the middle class is running for cover. Suddenly, it could be their own child, who may need the ‘protection’ of a juvenile justice system. Of course, now it’s too late. The law is enacted and being implemented.

The law on child labour was amended and enacted – again in a rush, despite many experts and activists saying that the gaps in it will only allow for continuation for child labour. But again, there was rush to the finish, so no one was listening.

In the name of concern for children, we are witnessing shrill demands and knee-jerk reactions and action. If the action is short-sighted and flawed, the children will have to bear the consequences long after the momentary public interest is satisfied.

Unfortunately, when a Nobel Laureate asks for something, there’s more chances he gets the state moving. Only one can wish he will stop asking for more laws or bodies, and ask for political will and better implementation.

Enakshi Ganguly is the founder co-director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. 

Check out My543, our comprehensive report card of all Lok Sabha MPs.


  • 1K
    Shares
8 Comments Share Your Views

8 COMMENTS

  1. I agree with Enakshi totally. Death penalty will only push the crime under the carpet and the matter of rape would never get repported. Justice is delivered with implementation of the act . The rocess of delivering Justice must be a process of healing .

  2. मै बिलकुल सहमत हूँ…हमें मौजूदा कानूनों का सशक्तिकरण और उनका पालन चाहिए ….नए कानून नहीं …पिछले दिनों कई राज्य सरकारों नें 12 वर्ष से कम की बच्चियों के साथ बालात्कार करने पर मृत्यु दंड का प्रावधान किया गया ….पिछले दिनों महिला विकास विभाग ने भी बलात्कार के लिए मृत्यु दंड की मांग करी…..यह निर्णय यह आभास देता है कि बच्चों के साथ बढ़ते बलात्कार और हिंसा का कारण सजा का कम सख्त होना है ….. समाज में भी यह धारणा बढ़ती जा रही है…यह सच नहीं है…बच्चों के साथ बढ़ती हिंसा का असली कारण conviction rate कम होना और बच्चो के लिए सुरक्षा तंत्र कमजोर होना है …कही भी यह प्रमाण नहीं है कि सजा सख्त करने से अपराध कम हुआ है …सरकार और समाज बच्चों का सुरक्षा तंत्र मजबूत करने को काम करें …महिलाओं के लिए भी इस तरह के कदम उठाने की जरूरत है ….यह एक मुश्किल काम है…सरकार मुश्किल काम से बचने के लिए सजा सख्त करके यह आभास देना चाहती है कि वह इस मुद्दे पर गंभीर है…अगर ऐसा होता तो लगभग हर सरकार द्वारा बच्चो की सुरक्षा के लिए बजट कम नहीं किया जाता……. मैं एक बार फिर दोहराऊँगा कि अगर आप और सरकारें वास्तव में बच्चों के प्रति बढ़ती हिंसा की वारदातों के प्रति गंभीर तो बच्चो के लिए सुरक्षा तंत्र मजबूत करें ……कानूनों और नीतियों का बेहतर पालन करे ….इन सबके लिए बजट बढ़ाएं …कृपया नए नए कानून बना कर या सजाओं को सख्त बना कर यह आभास देने की कोशिश न करे कि आप गंभीर हैं

  3. मैं लेखिका से बिलकुल सहमत हूँ…हमें मौजूदा कानूनों का सशक्तिकरण और उनका पालन चाहिए ….नए कानून नहीं …पिछले दिनों कई राज्य सरकारों नें 12 वर्ष से कम की बच्चियों के साथ बालात्कार करने पर मृत्यु दंड का प्रावधान किया गया ….पिछले दिनों महिला विकास विभाग ने भी बलात्कार के लिए मृत्यु दंड की मांग करी…..यह निर्णय यह आभास देता है कि बच्चों के साथ बढ़ते बलात्कार और हिंसा का कारण सजा का कम सख्त होना है ….. समाज में भी यह धारणा बढ़ती जा रही है…यह सच नहीं है…बच्चों के साथ बढ़ती हिंसा का असली कारण conviction rate कम होना और बच्चो के लिए सुरक्षा तंत्र कमजोर होना है …कही भी यह प्रमाण नहीं है कि सजा सख्त करने से अपराध कम हुआ है …सरकार और समाज बच्चों का सुरक्षा तंत्र मजबूत करने को काम करें …महिलाओं के लिए भी इस तरह के कदम उठाने की जरूरत है ….यह एक मुश्किल काम है…सरकार मुश्किल काम से बचने के लिए सजा सख्त करके यह आभास देना चाहती है कि वह इस मुद्दे पर गंभीर है…अगर ऐसा होता तो लगभग हर सरकार द्वारा बच्चो की सुरक्षा के लिए बजट कम नहीं किया जाता……. मैं एक बार फिर दोहराऊँगा कि अगर आप और सरकारें वास्तव में बच्चों के प्रति बढ़ती हिंसा की वारदातों के प्रति गंभीर तो बच्चो के लिए सुरक्षा तंत्र मजबूत करें ……कानूनों और नीतियों का बेहतर पालन करे ….इन सबके लिए बजट बढ़ाएं …कृपया नए नए कानून बना कर या सजाओं को सख्त बना कर यह आभास देने की कोशिश न करे कि आप गंभीर हैं

  4. I agree with Enakshi. First and foremost we have to remember that Law is only a tool and can never be the only solution. For our children we need everyone’s collective ownership and conscientiousness. Implementation of existing laws in the right spirit is the key to ensuring rights of our children

  5. Enakshi has so crisply put down what has been on my mind since quite some time…thank you. The present need is to appoint skilled / qualified human resources to improve the situation of children. Such appointments will result in optimum implementation of different child-protection legislations prevailing in the country. Instead of investing in implementation of existing laws, the state is attempting to soothe public anger to horrific sexual offences against children by harshening punishment, which Enakshi has correctly reflected is counter-productive. Death penalty and sex offender’s registry is not the answer! It is most alarming when the state, despite contrary views, continues to pass reactionary legislations in the name of ‘child protection’. Rejection of opinion expressed by those working with children, makes one doubt whether the state is truly concerned with ‘child protection’. Legislation should be framed on rationale, and not sensation. Anyways, legislation is not the solution to all child-related problems. The state’s focus, in the interest of children, should be on preventive and rehabilitative measures, and not on enacting fresh legislation. It is difficult to understand how child rights practitioners, especially those with the experience of Kailash Satyarthi, believe otherwise.

  6. I fail to understand how a new tribunal will help in protection of our children. We have best laws of the world, it is the political will and resources to help children and families, keeping them safe, giving education should be asked for. We need to train the minds of our police, judges and each and everyone who works with children as how we can protect them and where they can go asking for justice right in the beginning. Understand, children are our next generation and what kind of generation are we making, by abusing and neglecting them.

  7. Enakshi, this is surely raising the hornest nest for which you I admire your grit. In the name of “child protection” and “friends of Children” we need to ask ourselves if we are doing more harm to the cause of children. There is so much on the ground, if implemented, we may not need any new Body or Law. Vying for the blood does not protect the children. I fail to understand why do individuals want to pamper their egos at the cost of children.
    Bharti Sharma

  8. I am glad and thankful to you Enakshi Ganguly that you decided to say it loud and clear. All of us engaged workers on child protection at the ground felt uncomfortable when the News started Nobel Laurete demanding a new institution. We are yet to heal from that horrible child labour law and then this new Trafficking law (which is a dreamer’s dream of flowery things and devoid of any touch to reality). It aches when our leaders like our very own Nobel Laureate ( who got it for his work on children of Mother India ) come forth with such poorly conceived and populist thoughts for child protection. Every one is sick of these new laws and ideas and institutions, which everyone celebrates and competes to take credit for and then implementation is back to zero as always . When will we have courage to call for showing political will to implement already existing laws? Then we have likes of our Delhi Commission of Women whose thought process cannot go beyond asking for Death Penalty for Protecting Children from Sexual offences. Then we have our National Commission for Women and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights , for whom, what ever is happening in Kathua in J&K is merely a question of jurisdiction for speaking and intervening. Propel can go up-to Syria to speak for children but Kathua and Unnao are out of jurisdiction! What a farce!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here