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Children's Human Rights

Rights of Children: Different Dimensions

Rights of Children

In the present world, there is urgent need of serious attention towards the protection and promotion of rights of children. Even though this issue has been most talked about, yet not much has been achieved in this regard. Childhood is the most sensitive and vulnerable phase of an individual's life. It has to be safeguarded against all evils existing in the society.Childhood constitute formative years crucial for the development of overall personality of a person. Today's children make tomorrow's youth and the future generation of a country. Therefore, every country should take strong initiative to ensure their observance. Children deserve special care and help in order to grow.It becomes the responsibility of the society and the government to provide a free, fair and safe environment to them. Children need extra protection in the form of a well developed system of rights.A child is defined as a person below the age of eighteen years. It is believed that children are citizens in their own right. They are entitled to the full spectrum of human rights.


The concept of the rights of the child is of relatively recent origin. There has been growing recognition that children should be given special care. Earlier a child was looked at as a part of or attached to an adult, but with the new approach they are viewed as independent beings. They should be provided with all rights ensured to them by the constitution and the laws. Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ESC) rights are needed in order to ensure the survival and life of the child and a bare minimum quality of life for the child.

As subjects of rights the opinion of a child should be treated with respect. It means that the child has the right to freedom of expression, freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of assembly.Children have equal value as adults and each child has a right. Children should enjoy their rights without discrimination. Disabled children, children of disadvantaged groups and girl child should enjoy the same rights as others. . Every child should be registered immediately after birth and has a right to name and nationality .In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public and private social welfare institutions,court of law, administrative authorities or  legislative bodies, the best interest of the child shall be a primary consideration.


As mentioned above children because of their tender age and need for their healthy growth need special attention. For that purpose they need to enjoy rights in specific way.

Child Labour and Rights of Child

There are countless children involved in different kinds of work in our country. Childlabour ranges from four-year-olds working for to seventeen-year-olds helping out on the family farm. Many children in rural areas work for agriculture; as domestic help; in trade and services in urban areas, while some work in manufacturing and construction. In Indian context, child labour means children below the age of 14years and working. It is believed that India has highest child labourers in the world.In a society like ours, child labour is also seen as result of social inequality.Since India is a poor country, many children work to team for their family. Sometimes Working and earning can be a positive experience in a child's growing up. But most of the time children are forced to work due to poverty. Children often work long hours in dangerous and unhealthy conditions. They suffer permanent physical and psychological damage. Many children grow up disabled as a result of working, with eye damage, lung disease, stunted growth and susceptibility to arthritis. In India, children making silk threads dip their hands in boiling water, causing burns and blisters. Many people breathe smoke and fumes emitted from machinery while working in factories. Many children develop infections due to unhealthy working conditions.

Despite the prohibition of some forms of child labor by the ILO's Worst Forms of Child Labor Convention, many children continue to work in inhumane conditions. In this way many children are deprived of a normal childhood. Many children are kidnapped and forced to work away from their homes and families.

They have been deprived of freedom of movement. They have no right to leave the workplace and go home to their families. Children work long hours, for very little pay, or sometimes no pay. They are often subjected to physical abuse such as imprisonment and beatings. They are exposed to dangerous pesticides and made to work with dangerous equipment. These facts show a gross violation of the human rights of children.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that children – all persons under the age of eighteen years "unless, under the law applicable to the child, earlier attains majority" – have the right to be protected from performing any such work. possess which can be dangerous for them. Interfering with the child's education, or being harmful to the child's health or physical, mental, spiritual, moral or social development." Few of the options available to millions of women and girls around the world to support themselves and their families They turn to domestic work as one of the most common forms of sexual exploitation. They become easy targets of sexual exploitation. Governments have systematically denied them key labor protections afforded to other workers. Domestic workers, who often support their families They make extraordinary sacrifices just to make ends meet, and are among the most exploited and abused workers in the world.Child labour is an unregulated, gray area of the Indian economy,so statisticsillustratingthe scale of the phenomenon vary considerably. The Indian government estimates some 14 million of the country's children are employed in agriculture, as domestic helpers, in roadside restaurants and in factories making glass, textiles, and countless other goods. Many charities and non-governmental organizations around the world argue the figure is much higher.

Bonded Child Labour

Bonded child labour is one of the worst forms of violation of rights of children.Millions of children work as bonded child labourers in countries around the world.They loose on their childhood, education, and opportunities by being entrapped in bonded labor. Bonded labor takes place when a family receives an advance payment to hand a child-boy or girl-over to an employer. In most cases the child cannot work off the debt, nor can the family raise enough money to buy the childback.Bonded labour is outlawed by the 1956 V.N. SupplementaryConvention on the Abolition of Slavery,the Slave Trade, and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery.

Sexual Exploitation and Abuse of Children

Child Sexual Abuse and its prevention have become major problems in all countries,particularly in India. Sexual abuse of children can occur both within families and outside like in social groups and in underprivileged situations, such as in orphanages.There is lack of specific laws against Child Sexual Abuse. People are generally ignorant due to lack of awareness on the subject. Such abuses leave scars on victims which are very difficult to erase. They result in psychological problems in children.There is need of greater awareness on issue of child sexual abuse and harassment.

The state should take measure to develop social programmes for prevention of abuse and treatment of victims. Some of the NGOs are working on the issue. Sexual exploitation and abuse of children include Child Trafficking, Prostitution, Pornography, SexTourism.

Child trafficking means selling or buying children for sexual work including prostitution. It includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purposes of sexual or labour exploitation, forced labour, or slavery.Trafficking in children is a human rights tragedy estimated to involve over a million children worldwide. Hundreds of children are trafficked every year worldwide. They Are recruited on false promises of education,professional training and paid employment.

These children are transported within and across national borders under sometimes life-threatening conditions. They are then pushed into exploitative labour and are subjected to physical and mental abuse by their employers. Child trafficking is prohibited under international law as both a "practice similar to slavery" and one of the "worst forms of child labour". States have an urgent and immediate obligation to eradicate trafficking in children.

Prostitution signifies forcing children to have sexual intercoursewith adultsin exchangefor money. Pornography is showing or photographing or filming children in sexualactivities or displaying the sexual part of child. Sex tourism is another crime against children which indicates offering children to pedophiles or using children for different kinds of sexual activity.

The UN Convention on Rights of Child, (Article 34, 35 and 36) deals with sexualabuse and sexual exploitation of children. Countries have the duty to take measures to prevent forcing or persuading children into unlawful sexual activity or exploiting them for prostitution or pornography and trafficking.

Gender Discrimination

Indian society is a patriarchal society with a lot of discrimination against women and girl child. Among children, there is more violation of rights of girl child. She is never treated at par with the male child. There are deep rooted prejudices against women resulting in their mistreatment which starts very much from childhood. They are never treated equal with their male counterparts either in family or in schools. It results in low self esteem and lack of self confidence in the girl children. The girl child's right to survival, health care and nutrition, education, social opportunities and protection has to be recognized and made a social and economic priority. Along with this the basic structural inequalities that cause poverty, malnutrition and the low status of women have to be addressed, if these rights are to be ensured.

There is need for an educational campaign by the government and the NGOs to eliminate all discrimination against girl child.


Convention on the Rights of Child adopted by the UN. General Assembly in 1989. This has been the first major international instruments exclusively devoted to rights of child.

U.N. Convention on Rights of Child and India

India acceded to the UN. Convention on the Rights of the Child on 11 December1992 to reiterate its commitment to the cause of children. The convention takes into account the different cultural, social, economic and political realities in which CHILDREN live. It says that everyone under the age of eighteen has all rights in the convention.These rights are right to good life, security, education, health, culture etc. It alsoprovides rights against sexual abuse, protection from illegal drugs, kidnapping and any other kind of cruelty against children. The convention recognizes the child as subject and guarantees the freedom of expression and participation in making decisions affecting their rights.

The United Nation proclaimed 1979 as the year of Child.The member countries that have acceded to the Convention on the Rights of Child Are required to submit a periodical report about the status of the implementation of the Convention in their country. Accordingly, the first India Country Report was submitted to the UN in 1997.

A National Coordinating Group has been constituted by the Department of Women and Child Development to monitor the implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and oversee all activities directly connected to the implementation of CRC. India has also signed the two Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, namely,

(1) on the involvement of Children In Armed conflicts, and

(2) on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in September 2004.

Constitutional Provisions

You have already read in an earlier unit that in the Constitution of India FundamentalRights and Directive Principles of State Policy prescribe the fundamental obligations of the state to its citizens. The Fundamental Rights define in part ill of the Constitution,apply irrespective of race, place of birth, religion, caste, creed or gender. They Apply to children as well. One of these rights is specifically to protect children. Itis known as Prohibition of employment of children in factories etc.

Article 24 provides; "No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

"In addition to above now children have also been given right to education. Earlier This right existed in article 45 of the constitution as a Directive Principle. TheConstitution 86th Amendment 2002 has made right to education a fundamental right under article 21 A of the constitution.

Apart from the above fundamental Rights, in Chapter-IV on the Directive Principles Of State Policy also special provisions have been provided for children:

Art 39(e) provides that the health and strength of workers, men and women, and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength.

Art 39(f) provides that children are given opportunities and facilities to develop in a healthy manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity and that childhood and youth are protected against exploitation and against moral and material abandonment.

Art 45 says that the state shall endeavor to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until they complete the age of fourteen years.

Laws for Child Protection

Apart from constitutional guarantees, the state has enacted several laws for the protection of children. Some of these are given below:

Indian Penal Code. Crimes of kidnapping and Trafficking in Human Being includes special provisions for minors Sec. 363 A provides punished for kidnapping of minors for employing them for begging, the export and import of girls for prostitution.Section 366 A deals with sourcing of minor girls from one part of India to another.Section 366 B makes it an offense to import into India from any country outsideIndia girls below the age of 21 years for the purpose of prostitution. Selling of minors for the purpose of prostitution is a punishable offense under section 372.Section 373 punishes for buying minors for the purpose of prostitution.

To abduct a girl with the intent or knowledge that she may be compelled, forced or seduced to have illicit sex is a criminal offense. To take away or abduct a girlforcibly for the purpose of marriage is also an offence.Rights of ChildrenSexual Interco.urse with a girl below the age of 16 years is rape. It is immaterial whether it was done with or without her consent. (Sec.376). Husband' can also be guilty of Rape of he has sexual intercourse with his wife who is below the age of 15years.

Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986.

This Act prohibits employment of children in jobs related to transport of passengers,goods or mails, cinder picking, catering establishment at railway stations, construction of railway station, port authority selling of explosives and fireworks, abattoirs/slaughterhouses etc. Through a notification dated May 26, 1993, the working conditions of children have been regulated in all employment not prohibited under the Act.

Law to Ban Domestic work: In October 2006 the Indian Government took another welcome step by enacting a law to ban domestic work and some other forms of labour by children under age 14. The new law covers domestic work,restaurants and hotels as well as domestic labour. It means that Children below theage of 14 can not be employed as domestic servants or help in any kind nor can they be employed in hotels, restaurants, dhabas etc. Under the law children workingin such positions have to be removed and rehabilitated and those using children illegally will be prosecuted and punished.

The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act: This act was enacted in pursuance of India's obligations under the UN. Convention for the suppression of Traffic in persons and of Exploitation of the women. It is also meant to prevent trafficking of children. Achild prostitute rescued under this act must be treated as a child in need of care and protection. Such children should be brought under the protection of the child welfare committee.Above mentioned laws are examples of some of the legislative measures adopted by the Government from time to time for protection and welfare of children. There are more such laws both enacted by the Union and state Governments.

Juvenile Justice System

Children in general are innocent. However due to circumstances sometimes a child may commit an offense. As per Indian law, nothing is an offense if committed by a child below 7 years of age. If a child (boy under 16 and a girl under 18 years of age) commits an offense then the chiId has to be treated under the Juvenile Justice(care and Protection of Children) Act 2000. The Act provides:

• Notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, the State Governments may constitute Juvenile Justice Boards for dealing with Juveniles in conflict with law.

A Board shall consist of a Metropolitan Magistrate or a Judicial Magistrate of the fIrst class, as the case may be and two social workers of whom at least one shall be a woman. No Magistrate shall be appointed as a member of the Board Unless he has special knowledge or training in child psychology or child welfare.(Section 4)

Any State Government may establish and maintain either by itself or under an agreement with voluntary organization, observation homes in every district or a group of districts, as may be required for the temporary reception of any Juvenilein conflict with law during the pendency or any inquiry regarding them under thisAct (Section 8).

• As soon as a juvenile in conflict with law is apprehended by police, he shall be placed under the charge of the special juvenile police unit or the designated police officer who shall immediately report the matter to a member of the Board(Section 10).

• Where a juvenile is arrested, the officer in charge of the police station or the special juvenile police unit to which the juvenile is brought shall, as soon as maybe after the arrest, inform 

(a) the parent or guardian or the juvenile, if The can be found of such arrest and direct him to be present at the Board before which the juvenile will appear, and 

(b) the probation officer of such arrest to enable him to obtain information regarding the antecedents and family background of the juvenile and other material circumstances likely to be of assistance to the Boardfor making the inquiry.


In addition to legal provisions following special measures have been adopted for implementation of rights of child and welfare schemes for children:

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS)

The ICDS was launched in 1975 as a centrally sponsored scheme with the objective of: 

(a) To improve the nutritional and health status of children below the age of six years and pregnant and lactating mothers;

(b) to lay the foundation for the proper psychological, physical and social development of the child; 

(c) to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school, drop-outs, 


(d) to achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation among various departments to promote child development; 

(e) to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the heath and nutritional needs of the child through proper health and nutritional education.

National Charter for Children

The National Charter for children is a policy document adopted by the government highlighting the roles and responsibilities of the government and the community towards the children and the duties of children towards their families, society and the country.It was notified on 9 February, 2004.

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights

In order to ensure child rights practices and in response to India's commitment toUN. declaration to this effect the government of India set up a National Commission For Protection of Child Rights. Parliament of India in 2006 enacted an act for the constitution of such a commission. Besides the chairperson, it will have six membersfrom the fields of child health, education, child care and development, Juvenile Justice,children with disabilities, elimination of child labour, child psychology or sociologyand law relating to children.

The commission has the power to inquire into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of child rights and non-implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children among other things.

Aimed at examining and reviewing the safeguards provided by the law to protect child rights, the Commission may recommend measures for their effective implementation. It can suggest amendments, if needed, and look into complaints and take suo moto notice of cases of violations of the constitutional and legal rights of children. The commission is empowered to ensure proper enforcement of child rights and effective implementation of laws and programmes relating to children-enquiring into complaints and take suo moto cognizance of matters relating to deprivation of child rights.

National plan of Action for Children

The Department of Women and Child Development of the Government of India in2005 prepared the draft of the National Plan of Action for Children taking into consideration the goals for children set in the U.N. General Assembly Special Sessionon Children held in May 2002 and the monitorable targets set in the Tenth Five YearPlan and goals for children in related Ministries/Departments and in consultation with concerned Ministries and Departments, States Union Territories Governments Non-Governmental Organizations and experts. The revised draft included goals, objectives and strategies for the decade 2001-2010 for improving nutritional status ofIndianchild, increasing enrolment rates and reducing dropout rates, universalisation ofprimary education, increasing coverage for immunities etc.

NGOs Role in Protection of Rights

Various NGOs in India have been working on the rights of the child, child trafficking,child prostitution, gender justice, survival and health and many other themes.

BachpanBachao Andolan is one of the energetic nongovernmental organizations dedicated to eradicating child labor. Some NGOs are working for shelter, health, education and training of these children. NGOs are also working in the filed of child labour forrescuing and rehabilitating the children engaged as labourers.

A central scheme for the welfare of street children has been launched by the Ministry of Welfare, Government of India. The scheme provides grant-in-aid to NGOs working on the issues of street children. NGOs can play an important role in disseminating information and creating awareness about the rights of children. But how successful this scheme is cannot be said because elections are held in India every five years after which a new government comes to power. And then all these schemes turn into scams and all the government organizations disappear.

Yes, it can be said that many NGOs in India can also file cases in the courts in the form of Public Interest Litigation. Some NGOs have saved many children from bonded labor through such PILs. In general as far as human rights and other social rights are concerned. .., NGOs play an important role in the promotion and protection of child rights.


It is believed that creating awareness about the rights of children is the most important way of achieving our goal. The society and state by and large have been ignorant towards the condition of children. It is high time we should start acting in this regard. Each and every citizen must realize his/her responsibility towards securing a happy and healthy childhood for all children.

Critical awareness of all rights and the situations that violate them is a must for the realization of these rights. Children should be trained to assert their rights. The government has to ensure spreading wide awareness about child issues among government agencies, media, judiciary, the public and the children themselves. It seems appropriate to provide sexual education to children especiallyin context of child sexual abuse.

There should be campaigns for promoting and protecting child rights. All government programmes and policies must target this objective. Other institutions and structures should also attempt to focus on this issue.Creating mass awareness will definitely help in the construction of a better society for children.

There are certain factors which aggravate the poor plight of children, like caste,gender, poverty, displacement etc. Children are worse off if they happen to belong To low ea: "r» in Indian society, These children live in appalling conditions and are ;forced into bonded labour and other forms of exploitation by the upper castes. Thesecastes live in isolated ghettos in the rural areas. They lack any opportunity of growth and development. They hardly receive any education or employment. They mostly work as forced labour on the farms. So many children die of malnutrition and starvation but the government refuses to recognize and record it.

Since children are dependent and vulnerable the adults must help them realize their rights. There is need for change in the orientation of institutions and society if we are seriously committed to the rights of child. We must start thinking of children as equal citizens with same rights and entitlements as we have. Children should not be treated as object of sympathy but as stakeholder in the society. The state should focus on child care services.

There are numerous street children who become homeless due to poverty, family breakups, armed conflict, and disasters.

Adoption is one of the best ways to rehabilitate an orphaned or an abandoned child or' a child in need of care and protection. InIndian society, adoption is quite common.Every child has Right to Education. This means that the state is under obligation to provide free education. However, only primary education between the ages of 6 to14 years is covered under this right.

Though the State had created infrastructure and ensured near complete enrolment, many children drop out because of poor facilities in schools such as drinking water, toilets and boring teaching methods. Out-of-school children should be encouraged to join back.

Education system has to be improved to ensure that children enjoy school. Poor sanitation and infrastructure facilities and discrimination based on caste are greatest hurdles. One of-the most complex reasons that denies children their right to education, is the shrinking livelihood in villages, resulting in seasonal migration. Seasonal migration has become a reality in many parts of the. country, caused by persistent drought and environmental degradation.Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) is working to achieve UEE (Universal ElementaryEducation) by 2010. The country is also a signatory to the UN Child Rights Charter(1999); and also according to the article 28 of the Conventions of the Rights of theChild (1989) the government has the responsibility of making primary education

compulsory and freely available to all.


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