Home Law International Handbook of Juvenile Justice
Sesha Kethineni INTRODUCTION
According to the 2011 Census of India, adolescents (10-19 years of age) represented 19.6 % of 1.21 billion people in the country. Compared to 2001 Census data where the literacy rate for adolescent females was 75.1 %> and for adolescent males was 85.5 %>, the 2011 Census data show higher rates of literacy among the adolescent population. For example, the literacy rate for adolescent females in 2011 is 88.2 %, and the rate for adolescent males is 91.7 %>, showing a narrowing gender gap. The 2011 adolescent sex ratio is 898 females to 1000 males, indicating a continued preference for boys over girls (Census of India 2011). Young people are also exposed to child labor, trafficking, and sexual exploitation (Sharma 2014). UNICEF (2011a) estimates that children in the age group of 5-14 are engaged in some form of work. The National Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 only bans child labor in hazardous occupations. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009 made free and compulsory education for children a right. Although the Act does not ban child labor, there is an implicit recognition that children should not work at a young age (UNICEF 2011a).
The data on missing children presented by the Ministry of Home Affairs (2015) show that over 325,000 children went missing between 2011 and June 2014, which amounts to an average of nearly 100,000 children going missing every year. About 55 % of the missing children are girls and about 45 % of all missing children are untraceable (Tiwary 2014; Sharma, n.d.). Many of these juveniles are trafficked for child prostitution, bonded labor, begging, and organ trade. According to Bhattacharya and Bhattacharya (2015), poverty creates a
S. Kethineni (*)
© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017
S.H. Decker, N. Marteache (eds.), International Handbook of Juvenile Justice, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-45090-2_9
vicious cycle. For example, poverty drives low-income families to push their children into the labor market, which affects the children’s emotional and intellectual growth. These children are exploited by traffickers, who turn them into child prostitutes, beggars, or bonded laborers. These victimized and neglected children often show behavioral problems, including engaging in delinquent acts such as theft, assaults, drug peddling, etc.
Traditional social practices such as child marriages deny children their fundamental rights, such as proper health, nutrition, education, and freedom from violence and exploitation, and deprive them of their childhood. Although the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (2006) was passed requiring states and union territories (are directly under the central government rule) to develop standards and strategies to implement the Act, some states have yet to implement a plan. Also, India has passed the Juvenile Justice Act (JJA 1986), the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act (JJCPA 2000), and an amendment of this legislation in 2006, 2011, and 2015. This chapter will discuss the nature and extent of juvenile crime, the juvenile justice law, the role of police, the incorporation of the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the status of juvenile justice in India.
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