CIVIL SOCIETY ALLIANCE FOR CHILD RIGHTS IN SOUTH ASIA

 

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Ricerca sulla situazione dell'infanzia in Asia meridionale

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Civil Society Alliance for Child Rights in South Asia Research excerpts of Situation of Children in South Asia

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Disclaimer This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Butterflies, CIAI, & ISCOS and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

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Civil Society Alliance for Child Rights in South Asia R es earc h E xc er p t s of Si t u a t i o n o f C hi l dr e n i n So u t h Asi a

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co - Partners Afghanistan NEPAL Bangladesh INDIA SRI LANKa Kantha Shakthi Organization Map for indicative purposes only. Not to scale or representing actual international borders.

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Foreword This publication is an abridged version of the Research Study, developed within the framework of the project “Civil Society Alliance for Child Rights in South Asia”, financed by the European Union and implemented in 2011 – 2013 by Butterflies, CIAI and ISCOS along with South Asian Alliance of Grassroots NGOs (SAAGN). The project aims to strengthen the role of the civil society, in particular, the SAAGN alliance, in promoting human rights and democratic reforms, specifically child rights, in the five countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. We would like to acknowledge the support of Directors of SAAGN’s lead NGOs in the region, Mr. M.D. Engineer Yousef, Director, Aschiana, Afghanistan; Ms. Wahida Banu, Director, Aparajeyo, Bangladesh; Ms. Rohini Weerasinghe, Director, Kantha Shakthi, Sri Lanka and Mr. Devendra Gurung, Director, CWSN, Nepal for giving the leadership to this alliance in their respective countries. The Research Study, of which this publication is only an excerpt, was aimed to put together a comprehensive document on the Situation of Children in the South Asian region- with a special focus on Education, Health, Environment, Demographic indicators and other relevant aspects that affect the lives and development of children. The secondary research exercise has helped in putting forth specific recommendations to relevant government institutions as well as shaping civil society initiatives. We hope that the publication will be used by all our stakeholders to review the present policies and programme measures being adopted to protect and promote the Rights of Children in each of these five countries. The pictures in this publication were taken as part of the three - year project by members of the SAAGN network in the many activities implemented. Wherever children’s pictures appear, we have the permission of the children and guardians to do so.

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY South Asia has made significant commitments towards children and has achieved much in terms of human development, for which it can be proud of. Today more children are better off than they were a decade ago. Many more children are healthier today, are likely to see their fifth birth day, have better access to education, and have higher hopes than the generation that came before them. In spite of these laudable achievements, the region stands in disbelief at the severe violation and deprivation that millions of children are meted out in different spheres of life. This report summarises recent trends with regard to children’s well-being, from a ‘rights’ perspective. It analyzes existing data in order to understand and provide information on rights of children and to identify areas and capacity gaps that need to be addressed. The methodology involves a review and an analytical synthesis of existing information sources and consultations with experts in various areas such as health, early childhood development, education, and social policies. Achievements in the fulfilment of basic children’s rights are acknowledged. The analysis recognises, however, that although all South Asian children have the same constitutional rights, some are better placed to realise their rights. Special attention is paid to those children who are deprived of their right to an adequate standard of living, to health services and education, and to be protected from exploitation, abuse, and neglect. Causes for such deprivation are studied as well as the response of various stakeholders at the household, community, and national levels. Gaps in the capacity to ensure proper response in addressing deprivation are identified, where possible.

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The state of children in South Asia thus does not demonstrate a satisfactory picture, despite laudable achievement on several fronts. Millions of children are still deprived of their right to survival, development, and protection. Families, which are the basic social units, have a pivotal role in ensuring a child’s growth and development. Nevertheless, poverty, illiteracy, lack of shelter, unemployment, and health issues bear negatively on his/her survival, development, and protection, leading to child mortality, malnutrition, lack of education, sexual and physical abuse, forced into labour and trafficked for labour, commercial sex work, adoption or marriage. Hence, mere prohibitions or introduction and implementation of policies/ legislations or programmes cannot improve the state of children, unless and until adequate and prime efforts are focussed on strengthening families by minimising their vulnerabilities. Accordingly, apart from plugging the loopholes in the legislation, bridging the gaps in the implementation of policies/programmes to address various issues related to children and strengthening of the families through addressing their vulnerabilities should be central to building a safety net for children. Only such an effort could make us dream of a world fit for children.

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Acknowledgements The SAAGN Secretariat team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed to the making of this document. Mr. Saju Parackal, our Chief Researcher for conducting the research in India and supervising researchers Ms. Mizly Nizar , Ms. Pushpa Ayathurai (Sri Lanka), Mr. Aminul Hasan (Bangladesh), Mr. Anil Paudel (Nepal) and Mr. Hashmatulla Hayat (Afghanistan) who were associated with the drafting of country-specific research studies. The SAAGN Secretariat would also like to thank Ms. Archana Sudheer Gayen who edited the document and Ms. Angeline and Mr. Upesh Pradhan from The Other Design Studio for designing the document. Ms. Lekha Pillai and Mr. Rahul Chakraborty for coordinating the production of this publication along with the staff and administration of Butterflies for their support. And the final, and most significant word of thanks to our Director and prolific Researcher, Ms. Rita Panicker for her inputs and overseeing of this publication.

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contents 2 6 12 22 30 36 40 44 60 66 72 80 92 102 105 106 Int roduct ion C hildren D em ographic P r of ile C hildren And Legis lat ions C hildren And Educat ion C hild Sur vival And Healt h Environm ent And C hildren C hildren And P overt y C are And Prot ect ion C hild Part icipat ion J uvenile J us t ice Sys t em P rogres s Tow ards Mdg Tar gets Key Gaps /C hallenges The Way Forw ard Acronym s & Abbreviat ions Lis t of Tables & Figures References 1

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int r odu c t ion 2

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South Asia has emerged as a developing economy, attaining a GDP growth rate of 8% in 2006 and 7% in 2009 (UNDP 2011). The region has the highest share of the world’s population, particularly the poor. Over 40% of its population are children under 18 years of age - half a billion. It is evident that despite the promise to protect children from all forms of violence, abuse, and exploitation, and ensure their adequate growth and development, South Asia stands far from creating a child-friendly atmosphere (UNICEF). However, various governments have designed and implemented several measures for the welfare of children. There have also been efforts by NGOs, and grassroot-level NGOs. The role of NGOs becomes all the more pivotal with the convention on Regional Arrangement on Child Welfare, which states that child-related issues are mostly similar across nations and regions, and should be dealt with accordingly at the national and regional levels. In line with this, an alliance or consortium titled ‘South Asian Alliance of Grassroots NGOs (SAAGN)’ was initiated in 2004 with a representation from five leading NGOs in five SAARC countries - Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The consortium aimed to advocate, promote, and ensure actions for the protection of the rights of children, especially those in difficult circumstances. Besides the five leading NGOs, 139 grassroot-level NGOs are also associated with the efforts. The present study on the “State of Children in South Asia” was conceived and conducted as a part of the SAAGN alliance/consortium project: “Strengthening the role of civil society in promoting human rights and democratic reform in supporting the peaceful conciliation of group interests and in consolidating political participation and representation.” It intends to unearth and understand the current situation of children in the region under the light of the Millennium Development Goals. The findings derived from the research will highlight the overall situation of children in South Asia, focusing primarily on their survival, development, protection, and participation rights. It will also be instrumental in chalking out appropriate measures to bridge the gaps, whereby a new world can be created for children. 3

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1.1. objectives 1. To understand the demographic profile of children in South Asia 2. To examine the national, regional, and international legal framework related to care and protection of children 3. To examine the status of survival, development, and protection of children in the region 4. To identify gaps, challenges, or issues with respect to survival, development, and protection of children 5. To suggest appropriate recommendations for the development and protection of children in the region 1.2. methodology statistical and other national data. Relevant qualitative research on different aspects of the research were also examined and utilised. Special care was taken to include the latest available data on each of the factors that are touched upon in the study. The major sources of data thus constituted census reports, National Sample Survey reports, National Family Health Survey reports, demographic and health surveys, National Crime Records Bureau reports, study reports and annual reports of various ministries and departments, reports by international agencies such as UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, CHIP and research study reports of various national and international agencies. In addition, information was also elicited The present study, which aims to highlight the current situation of children in five South Asian countries Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka - has made a comprehensive data gathering effort in six major areas viz., demography, education, child survival and health, child participation, child care and protection, and child poverty. The areas to be covered were decided upon by the alliance after a series of discussions and debates. Thereafter, a draft guideline was prepared for the data collection and finalised after incorporating relevant inputs derived from elaborate discussions with experts. The methodology adopted centered mainly on the extensive desk review and analysis of existing 4

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from the websites of various agencies/ministries/ departments. Furthermore, inputs on child-related issues were elicited from various stakeholders, namely, teachers, police personnel, representatives from the judiciary, NGOs, and trade unions through the administration of a questionnaire, which was drafted and finalised after consultation with the concerned sources. The information thus gathered was consolidated in a manner that portrayed the true situation of children in South Asia. In the analytical process, which used the causal analysis and human rightbased approach, the study made an effort to portray the existing situation in different areas related to children, along with causes for the situation. The analysis has also taken care to relate the data with the Millennium Development Goals set at the international level, wherever possible. 1.3. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY sources, including media reports and miniature studies conducted by various independent agencies/ individuals. The research has certain limitations. First, the study covers only five countries in the South Asia region. Secondly, the report has mainly focused on reflecting the general picture of the situation of children, rather than delving into micro-analysis of child rights in the country. Thirdly, paucity of reliable data in relation to violations against children and protection issues was a major limitation. Fourthly, given the time limitation, the research may have missed out some aspect/issues of children in the region. In spite of the shortcomings, the report has tried to bring forth an unbiased and true representation of the situation of children in South Asia to the extent possible, using data from various secondary 5

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children demographic profile 6

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According to UN classification, South Asia primarily consists of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, and Sri Lanka, and is spread over an area of 5,131,069 square km, which is almost 2.4% of the world’s land mass. The region experiences a high degree of ethnic diversity with more than 2,000 ethnic entities and populations ranging from hundreds of millions to small tribal groups. Nearly three-quarters of the regional population pertains to the Indo-Aryan ethnic family. Dravidians constitute approximately one-fifth of the regional population and reside primarily in South India and Northern Sri Lanka. Other ethnic groups in the region are primarily Iranian, Tibetan, and Mongoloid, among which are included Pashtuns, Tajiks, and Balochs. Hinduism, followed by Islam, Buddhism and Christianity are the major religions in the area. South Asia is inhabited by one-fifth of the world’s population. As per a 2011 report, the region had a population of 1,616.7 million. India, which is the largest country in the area, covering three-fourth of its land area, has the largest population of around three times the combined population of six other countries in the sub-continent. Area-wise, Sri Lanka had the lowest land area (65,610 sq. km). The population density, on the other hand, is found to be comparatively higher in Bangladesh with 1,099, which is more than 20-fold higher than that of Afghanistan and almost three-folds of India (Table-2.1). Afghanistan has only 52 person per sq. km, when compared to 389 in India, 320 in Sri Lanka, and 180 in Nepal. 7

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