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Child Rights: M’laya among worst performers

N-E states fail to protect rights of children, says Child Rights Index

From CK Nayak

 New Delhi: The country’s first ‘national child rights index’ has labeled Meghalaya along with other states in the region among the ‘worst performing states as far as implementation of child rights is concerned.

The Child Rights Index (CRI) published by NGO HAQ-Centre for Child Rights includes data of crimes against children like infanticide, murder, rape, kidnapping and abduction, female feticide, abetment of suicide, exposure and abandonment, buying and selling of minor girls for the sex trade and child marriage.

Most of the Northeastern states including Meghalaya have been placed in the bottom half of the index in so far as eliminating such curses on children are concerned.

The CRI has declared Karnataka as the safest state in the whole country for children to live in. Incidentally, it was pushing some children of Meghalaya to Karnataka which had raised a hue and cry recently with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) stepping in to appraise the matter.

Accorsding to CRI, Karnataka had the least number of cases of crime against children, followed by Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

The NGO’s index report is based on data collected from both Central and State agencies.

Interestingly the ranking depicted a regional pattern: four of the five best performing states -Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh – are from the southern region. Maharashtra alone is from the west. On the other hand, all the worst performing states – Sikkim, Meghalaya, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh – are in the Northeast.

In fact, of the five states falling in the not-so-well performing states category, three of them Tripura, Assam and Mizoram are also from the Northeast.

A significant proportion of the population of the worst performing states, which are performing badly in education, are tribals: Jharkhand and Arunachal Pradesh are tribal-dominated, with indigenous groups constituting roughly 26.3 per cent and 64.2 per cent of the population respectively.

The report stated that Uttar Pradesh had the highest head count of working children in the country. Kerala was ranked last in gender equality in prevention of child marriages and stands ninth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) status. Maharashtra, which ranks first in the GDP, occupies the third position in protection of child rights.

One point that stands out in the indexing – the first of its kind in the country – is that economic growth does not necessarily improve the wellbeing of children. Jharkhand is the only state whose economic status matches its child rights rank – both at 17.

Kerala, which ranks first in the national child rights, stands ninth in its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) status, whereas Maharashtra, which ranks first in the GDP, is third in child rights.

Maharashtra does badly in sex ratio and child marriage, which points to the lack of attention to children.

Arunachal Pradesh has performed fairly well in sex ratio, child marriage and early childhood care.

With the second highest GDP in the country, Uttar Pradesh ranks 18th in child rights and 27th in the provision of health care, next only to Jharkhand. Surprising facts the indexing has thrown up are that Mizoram is doing badly in controlling child labour, while crimes against children are the highest in Nagaland (in proportion to the number of children). An interesting observation is that Manipur is the worst performer when it comes to crimes by children while Bihar has been declared to be the best.

The index was timed to coincide with the 12th Five Year Planning process to identify the states that still lag behind in protecting child rights, and highlight the specific areas – geographical and sectoral – that pull them down.

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