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The Indian Women and Children

Introduction

According India’s constitution, women are legal citizens of the country and have equal
rights with men (Indian Parliament). Because of lack of acceptance from the male
dominant society, Indian women suffer immensely. Women are responsible for bearing
children, yet they are malnourished and in poor health. Women are also overworked in
the field and complete all the domestic work. Most Indian women are uneducated.
Although the country’s constitution says women have equal status to men, women are
powerless and are mistreated inside and outside the home.

India is a society where the male is greatly revered. Therefore women, especially the
young girls, get very little respect and standing in this country. The women of the
household are required to prepare the meal for the men, who eat most of the food. Only
after the males are finished eating, can the females eat. Very few women seek medical
care while pregnant because it is thought of as a temporary condition. This is one main
reason why India’s maternal and infant mortality rates are so high. Even though the
constitution guarantees free primary schooling to everyone up to 14 years of age (Indian
Parliament), very few females attend school. There are several reasons why families
choose not to educate their daughters.

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a great revolution in the history of women.
The evidence is everywhere; the voice of women is increasingly heard in Parliament,
courts and in the streets. While women in the West had to fight for over a century to get
some of their basic rights, like the right to vote, the Constitution of India gave women
equal rights with men from the beginning.

Women’s position in India

As of March 2001, the female population stands at 495.4 million out of total 1,028
million Indian populations. Thus, in the present population of 1.03 billion, there ought to
be 528 million women. Instead, estimates show only 496 million women in the
population today. This implies that there are some 32 million "missing" women in India.
Some are never born, and the rest die because they do not have the opportunity to
survive. Sex-ratio (number of female per 1,000 male) is an important indicator of
women's status in the society. In 1901 there were 972 females per 1,000 males, while by
1971; the ratio has come down to 930 females per 1,000 males. In 1981 there has been
only a nominal increase in the female sex ratio within 934 females to 1,000 males. There
were only 926 females per 1000 males in India according to 1991 census.

Statistical Overview of Women’s Status


India 1991 2001

Over all sex ratio 926 933


Juvenile sex ratio 945 927
Female Literacy Rate 39.9 54.2
Female Worker 15.93 25.7
Participation Rate
Maternal Mortality Ratio 540 (1998-99)
(death per 100,000
pregnancies
Life Expectancy at Birth 66.91 (2001-06)
(Female)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 69 (2000)
1000 live births) (Female)
Source: Census of India, 1991, 2001, National Family Health Survey, Round 2, 1998-99,
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, government of India

The 2001 census indicate that the trend has been slightly arrested with the sex ratio at 933
females per 1000 males, with Kerala at 1058 females. The sex ratio of the 0-6 age group
has declined sharply from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001. According to UNFPA State of
world population 2005, Punjab (793), Haryana (820), Delhi (865), Gujarat (878) and
Himachal Pradesh (897) have worst child sex ratio. Scheduled Tribes have fairly
respectable CSR of 973 but that falls for Scheduled Castes it falls at 938.For non SC/ST
population it stands at 917.Rural India has 934 per 1000 and for urban India it stands at
908.In most states least literate districts have superior CSR compared to their most
literate counterparts.

One reason for the adverse juvenile sex ratio is the increasing reluctance to have female
children. For women the literacy rate stands at 54.16 per cent. Still, 245 million Indian
women cannot read or write, comprising the world's largest number of unlettered women.
National averages in literacy conceal wide disparities.

The UNFPA State of World Population 2005 states that about70% of graduate Indian
women are unemployed. Women constitute 90 per cent of the total marginal workers of
the country. Rural women engaged in agriculture form 78 per cent of all women in
regular work. They are a third of all workers on the land. The traditional gender division
of labour ensures that these women get on average 30 per cent lower wages than men.
The total employment of women in organized sector is only 4 per cent.

Problems of Children in India

In this 21st century, when we Indian are busy counting our economic and political
success both at national and international level, still is much needed to be done to
improve the status of children in India for the coming future. The children of India
continue to be the most vulnerable section of the society and their growth and
development remains a major concern. According to the 2001 Census, India is estimated
to have more than 400 million children below the age of 18 out of which 35 million
children are in need of care and protection.
Children’s vulnerabilities and exposure to violations of their protection rights remain
spread and multiple in nature. The manifestations of these violations are various, ranging
from child labour, child trafficking, to commercial sexual exploitation and many other
forms of violence and abuse. With an estimated 12.6 million children engaged in
hazardous occupations (2001 Census), for instance, India has the largest number of child
labourers under the age of 14 in the world.

Definition of Child in India

In India, the Census of India defines persons below the age of fourteen as children. While
making use of standard demographic data, social scientists include females in the age
group of fifteen to nineteen years under the category of the girl child. Government
programmes of children are targeted and the age group below fourteen years. According
to the Constitution, 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 (Article 23). The
legal conception of a child has tended to vary depending upon the purpose. A few
illustrations from the law in India are given below:

Statistic related to Indian Children

 No. of Children in age group 0-14 years: 347.54 mn (33.84 %)


 No. of Female Children in age group 0-14 years: 169.03 mn (48.64 %)
 No. of Street Children : 18 mn
 No. of Child Labourers : Estimates varies from 22 mn to 111 mn
 No. of Children living as bonded labour : Over 15 mn
 No. of Out of School Children in India : Over 59 mn
 No. of children in prostitution in India : 5,00,000
 No. of the children born in India every year : 27 mn
 No. of Infants who do not survive to celebrate their first birthday : 2 mn

Child Health

 Every third girl child born in India does not survive to see her teenage
 Every sixth girl child in India dies due to gender discrimination
 Number of Thalassaemia Children born in India every year : 10,000
 Infant Mortality Rate in India : 62 per 1000
 India has 30 percent of the world’s births, and 25 percent of the world’s child
deaths
 More than one-half of young children are underweight, with widespread chronic
malnutrition

Mentally/physically challenged

 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/physially challenged girls are at a particular risk to violence and abuse

Integrated Child Development

In India a large number of children’s are live in economic and social environ- ment which
impede the child's physical and mental development. These conditions include poverty,
poor environmental sanitation, disease, infection, inadequate access to primary health
care, inappropriate child caring and feeding practices. In the year 1975 Government of
India launched Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) seeking to provide an
integrated package of services in a convergent manner for the holistic development of the
child.

The objectives of the programe are:-

1. to improve the nutritional and health status of pre-school children in the age-
group of 0-6 years;
2. to lay the foundation of proper psychological development of the child;
3. to reduce the incidence of mortality, morbidity, malnutrition and school drop-out;
4. to achieve effective coordination of policy and implementation amongst the
various departments to promote child development; and
5. to enhance the capability of the mother to look after the normal health and
nutritional needs of the child through proper nutrition and health education.

The Impact of programe

1. The Infant Mortality Rates have declined from 80 per 1000 live births in 1991 to
73 during 1994 (Sample Registration System)
2. The percentage of children suffering from severely malnutrition have significantly
declined.
3. Decrease in Prevalence of Malnutrition among Pre-school Children
4. Improved immunisation Coverage in ICDS Areas
5. Decrease in IMR in ICDS Areas
6. Improvement in School Enrolment and Reduction in School Dropout Rate in
ICDS Areas, 1992

Social Problems

Social Problems faced by Women in Problems faced by child of India


India

 Dowry 1. Child Abuse


 Child Marriage 2. Child Adoption
 Neglect during Early Childhood 3. Child Education
 Death during Childbirth 4. Child Health
 Female Infanticide and Fetal 5. Child Labour
Killing 6. Child Sexual Exploitation
 Early Marriage 7. Street Children
8. Gender Discrimination
Crime against women traditionally includes faced by Girl Child
rape, kidnapping and abduction, dowry
death, torture, molestation, sexual
harassment, importation of girls, cases
under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention)
Act, Sati Prevention Act, Dowry
Prohibition Act, and Indecent
Representation of Women (Prevention) Act

Rights and Privileges of Women in India


The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State
to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the
cumulative socio-economic, education and political disadvantages faced by them.
Fundamental Rights, among others, ensures equality before the law, equal protection of
law, prohibits discrimination against any citizen on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or
place of birth, and guarantees equality of opportunity to all citizens in matters relating to
employment.

Legal Rights

1. The Crimes Identified Under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)

 Rape (Sec.376 IPC)


 Kidnapping & Abduction for different purposes (Sec.363-373)
 Homicide for Dowry, Dowry Deaths or their attempts (Sec.302/304-B IPC)
 Torture, both mental and physical (Sec.498-A IPC)
 Molestation (Sec.354 IPC)
 Sexual Harassment (Sec. 509 IPC)
 Importation of girls (upto 21 years of age)

2. The Crimes identified under the Special Laws (SLL)

Although all laws are not gender specific, the provisions of law affecting women
significantly have been reviewed periodically and amendments carried out to keep pace
with the emerging requirements. Some acts which have special provisions to safeguard
women and their interests are:

 The Employees State Insurance Act, 1948


 The Plantation Labour Act, 1951
 The Family Courts Act, 1954
 The Special Marriage Act, 1954
 The Hindu Marriage Act, 1955
 The Hindu Succession Act, 1986
 Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
 The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 (Amended in 1995)
 Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
 The Medical Termination of Pregnacy Act, 1971
 The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1976
 The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976
 The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act, 1979
 The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 1983
 The Factories (Amendment) Act, 1986
 Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986
 Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987

Rights of Children’s in India

Awareness about the rights of the child among children and adults is very limited in
India. Indians constitute 16 per cent of the world's population, occupying 2.42 percent of
its land area. India has more working children than any other nation, as also among the
lowest female-male ratios. Despite Constitutional guarantees of civil rights, children face
discrimination on the basis of caste, religion, ethnicity and religion. Even the basic need
for birth registration that will assure them a nationality and identity remains unaddressed,
affecting children's rights to basic services.

As per Convention on the rights of the child (CRC) the Rights of children can be further
subdivided into four categories for the purpose of better understanding of them. They are
Civil, Economic, Social and Cultural rights.

Civil Rights of children: These rights include right to name and nationality, protection
from torture and maltreatment, special rules governing the circumstances and conditions
under which children may be deprived of their liberty or separated from their parents, etc.

Economic Rights of children: They include the right to benefit from social security, the
right of a standard of living adequate to ensure proper development and protection from
exploitation at work.

Social Rights of children: The right to the highest attainable standards of the health and
access to medical services, the right to special care for the handicapped children,
protection from sexual exploitation and abduction and the regulation of adoption.

Cultural Rights of children: Include the right to education, access to appropriate


information, recreation and leisure and participation in artistic ad cultural activities.