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Playing With The Future of Children

By Amitabh Srivastava

 

Women and children constitute the weakest and most vulnerable sections of any society, anywhere in the world. But unfortunately, children, who constitute 42 per cent of the total population of India’s population seem to have become targets of a lobby of law-makers that is bent on throwing them before the wolves for their own perceived biases.

The trend had started after December 16, 2012 when a 23 year old medico known as ‘Nirbhaya’ all over the world now was brutally gang- raped, her body mutilated and thrown on the road after a journey through hell on a DTC bus. She died of her fatal injuries later.

The documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ prepared by BBC on her life is currently making international news for the kind of comments one of the accused languishing in Tihar Jail in New Delhi and his advocates have made about women. There is now a move to get the license of the two advocates cancelled.

That is bad enough but what is worse is that playing to the gallery the Government of India appears hell-bent on reducing the age of children from 18 as it exists now to 16 because one of the members of the gang of the accused happens to be a minor.

The issue generated a lot of heat in the country after the incident when child rights activists protested against the move as it violated all constitutional and UN conventions. Even the Justice Verma Committee that was set up to amend the outdated rape laws voted against reducing the age as it would set a bad precedent and send wrong signals.

Last year the government led by Narendra Modi invited suggestions from various stakeholders including child rights NGOs and they made a presentation before the Standing Committee of Parliament.

The Committee in a 70 page report refused to accept the logic of reducing the age of children from 18 to 16 even though accepting that there had been marginal rise in crime by children. But heinous crimes committed by children constitute less than one per cent of the total crime committed by children, it said. It also said in its report that the rise in crime was not abnormal because during the  corresponding period there had been a similar rise in crimes by adults as well.

The parliamentary report mentioned that there were at least five Supreme Court judgments that had opposed reducing the age of children from 18 to 16.

The sword of Damocles is literally hanging over the heads of children and after the BBC documentary the entire world will be watching the developments in India with bated breath as it will have international ramifications.

 

 

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