India's legal framework is not much child-friendly

  • Upasana Mukherjee, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • |
  • Updated: Dec 05, 2012 00:58 IST

A file picture of software professional Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni and his wife Anupama in happier times. The couple has been held guilty of 'gross or repeated maltreatment' of their child by a Norwegian court and sent to prison. PTI Photo


Parents disciplining or chiding their children is a social construct in India but an Indian couple in Oslo has paid heavily for following the axiom "spare the rod and spoil the child".

A Norwegian court on Tuesday convicted the couple of child abuse and sentenced Chandrasekhar Vallabhaneni and his wife Anupama to jail for 18 months and 15 months respectively.

But the legal framework in India is not that child-friendly.

"Its unfortunate that we need to have laws on this issue. We need to change culturally," says HAQ Centre for Child Rights co-director Bharti Ali, advocating a case for "positive disciplining".

India ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992. It mandates protection of children from all forms of violence, physical or mental by any care giver including parents.

The legal framework to prevent such corporal punishment by parents is minimal. The prevention of offences against the Child Bill, 2009 - an endeavour in this regard - was split to form the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and the portions dealing with corporal punishment has been incorporated in the draft amendment to the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 (JJ Act), Ali says. 

National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR)'s Guidelines for Eliminating Corporal Punishment in Schools talks about prevalence of corporal punishment by teachers and parents regardless of its "evident lack of effectiveness, and potentially deleterious side-effects."

Advocate Indira Unninayar says, "There is so much violence at home, kids need to be taught to not tolerate violence and also not to negotiate situations with violence."

Such families need mandatory rehabilitation and counseling, she adds.

Ali voices out the difficulty in getting registered cases of child abuse by the parents, saying "cops don't register such cases easily. Only when there are visible marks of injury to the child."

 

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