MP worst performer on child rights indicators: Report

Child rapes five times up in 12 years in India, says the report by NGO alliance

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Madhya Pradesh has emerged the worst performer on child rights indicators, according to a report released by an alliance of prominent non-government organisations (NGOs) working for children.

The report 'Child Rights in India: An Unfinished Agenda' has ranked the states and Union territories of the country on the basis of performance on 10 child rights indicators as part of its child rights situation analysis (CRSA) study. 

Madhya Pradesh managed only 82 out of maximum 360 score points, emerging as the worst performer followed by Bihar and Jharkhand with 92 and 100 points respectively. The best three performers are Puducherry, Kerala and Lakshadweep with 297, 293 and 279 points respectively. 

The performances were judged on the basis of secondary available data sourced from Census, National Family Health Survey (NFHS), Sample Registration System (SRS) and other national and state level data sources. Ten child rights indicators were selected and a maximum of 36 and a minimum of one point assigned to each of them. The scores of the states and UTs were then calculated to select 11 representational states/UTs for the study. 

The study was done and report compiled under the banner of 'Joining Forces for Children of India'—an alliance of six organisations with focus on children. The report was released in Bhopal on Thursday as part of the series of regional releases.

The 10 indicators used for ranking of the states include child (under 5) mortality, sex ratio, severe malnutrition, pre-school education, fertility rate, proportion of 6-17 year old children attending school, reported crime against children, teenage child bearing, children not living with biological parents and birth registration.

Madhya Pradesh already carries the ignominious tag of being the state with highest number of rapes of women and children and also highest infant mortality rate.

Study findings

The study quotes National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data to say that rapes against children in India increased five times between 1994 and 2016, and the Census report to say that sex ratio at birth dipped from 927 in 2001 to 919 in 2011. State level reports suggest that the sex ratio at birth is continuing to dip, the report says calling these two aspects as a 'cause of great concern'.

The report seeks to highlight that even 30 years after adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), child rights is still an unfinished agenda in India.

It was acknowledged that despite efforts by government and non-government organisations across the globe including India for several years, violence against children in the form of rapes, abuse, malnutrition, child marriage, child labour and others continue to dog the society. Millions of children still not in school, face poverty, exploitation, violence, neglect and abuse, Ingrid Mendonca, regional coordinator of Terre des Hommes, one of the six alliance organisations, told THE WEEK after release of the report.

“Therefore the need to bring focus on the issue and rally together for advocacy was felt. The report is based on secondary data available from authentic sources and field level primary engagements and case studies,” Mendonca said.

The alliance that conducted the study includes organisations Child Fund India, Plan India, Save the Children, SOS Children's Villages of India, Terre des Hommes and World Vision.

Other findings

The report has identified that gender, disability and disaster are three important factors that increase vulnerability of children and their ability to demand their rights.

The report says that India’a progress in combating under-5 deaths due to preventable causes is more likely to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDG) target.

It says that though progress has been noted in reducing malnutrition, the rate of reduction, however, is not as desired. NFHS-4 data (2015-16) states that in India 38.4 per cent children are still stunted, which is disconcerting.

The report also identifies four specific components of child rights that have received lesser attention—sexual and reproductive health; access to play, recreation and leisure; family and community-based protection mechanisms and engagement of children in decision-making at family and community level. 

Areas with significant progress include universal enrolment in primary education as literacy rate among 7-14 years children has gone up from 64 per cent (Census 1991) to 88 per cent (Census 2011). The proportion of women in the age group of 20-24 years who got married before the age of 18 has declined from 47.4 per cent in NFHS-3 (2005-06), to 26.8 per cent in NFHS-4 (2015-16). 

The alliance has called on the government to prioritise child rights as enshrined under the UNCRC and the SDGs. This includes – achieving 'leave no one behind' pledge, prevention of violence against children, capturing of disaggregated and issue-based data on children, ensuing child participation and accountability mechanism, increasing investment on children, strengthening effective implementation and monitoring of development interventions and facilitating multi-stakeholder engagement.