COVID-19 and Orphans

  • Category
    Society
  • Published
    7th Jun, 2021

In a latest development, the Supreme Court directed States to nominate a Nodal Officer at level of Secretary/Joint Sec of concerned department to interact with the Amicus Curiae and provide all necessary information relating to identification of orphans/Children in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP) and the schemes enforced.

Context

In a latest development, the Supreme Court directed States to nominate a Nodal Officer at level of Secretary/Joint Sec of concerned department to interact with the Amicus Curiae and provide all necessary information relating to identification of orphans/Children in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP) and the schemes enforced.

Background

  • The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has informed the Supreme Court that the COVID-19 pandemic has orphaned 1742 children, and 7464 children lost at least one parent during the pandemic.
  • The plight of these recently orphaned children has led to increased chatter around 'adoption'.
  • But this comes with the threat of child trafficking, often in the form of social media messages calling for direct adoption of children.
  • Thus, the SC Bench had directed the district authorities under the Juvenile Justice Act to immediately upload information related to children orphaned due to COVID after March 2020 in the national portal of NCPCR called "Bal Swaraj".

Analysis

Where Do Orphan Children Come From?

  • War, disease, poverty, natural disasters, abandonment, and accidents are among some of the leading causes.
  • These can be directly associated with orphans by the definition of a child who has lost one or both parents.
  • Within and aside from the aforementioned are: cultural pressures, neglect, abuse, child slavery, religious inequity, child prostitution, indentured servitude and more.
  • These are more closely associated with children without parental care that may not be a child that has lost one or more parents.
  • They may live with a relative or neighbor or are on the street or in the jungles and subjected to one of the prior mentioned abuses.

Issues faced by Orphans

  • Accommodation Problems: The most serious problem faced by orphans is the problem of shelter. After the death of parents, the orphans are supported by patrikins, matrikins and friends for some time but that support gets stopped afterwards. They have to work outside for earning their livelihood resulting in engagement of these orphans in child labor, handicrafts and other menial jobs
  • Loss of Education: The most important field in which orphans are suffering is Education. Due to stoppage of regular income, orphans are not able to pay their megamouth of school fee resulting in high rate of drop-outs.
  • Psychological Problems: The death of parents exposes the orphans to various challenges of real life resulting in various psychological problems. It has direct impact on the psyche of children which is depicted by the presence of anxiety, stress, depression and PTSD among orphans.
  • Social Disorganization: Due to the parental loss, orphans suffered in the field of family, marriage and kinship. With the disorganization of families their socialization got disorganized. There was significant degree of erosion in valuation ethos and social control mechanism within and outside families because in social environment neither the traditional patriarchal authority could be established nor could be the traditional norms legitimized. The marriage of orphan girls is complicated by the demand of dowry.
  • Feeling of Insecurity: The crucial problem among orphans is feeling of both physical and mental insecurity in absence of senior member in family. This feeling of insecurity can be seen more in women and girls because the situation may invite undesirable things by security forces, thereby posing threat to them.
  • Health Deterioration: The dangerous problem faced by the orphans is the abnormal health scenario because they are not in a position to get proper treatment or service access in health sector resulting in high mortality rate among them.
  • Total Dependence: The most undesirable aspect of the life of orphans is their total dependence on others like friends, neighbors, relatives and community members. This dependence can be social, psychological or material in nature. The absence of senior member(s) creates vacuum inside and outside family. Besides psychological implications, the orphans face difficulty in taking initiatives in personal and social matters which affect them for their entire life.
  • Deviance: The deviance and delinquency is common among orphans due to lack of authority, socialization and social control in family. These undesirable trends are unavoidable and such behaviours are expected from the environment in which their growth and development take place.

Steps taken by Government

As per the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, orphanand destitute children in the country are “Children in need of care and protection (CNCP)”

Child Protection Services

  • CPS provides preventive, statutory care and rehabilitation services to children who are in need of care and protection and those in conflict with law as defined under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
    • It is a centrally sponsored scheme, providing financial support to State Governments/UT Administrations, for delivering services (as mandated under the JJ Act, 2015 & JJ Rules there under) for children, either themselves or through suitable NGOs.
  • Web portal: Under the Child Protection Services, TrackChild web portal became functional in 2012.
    • The portal provides a database of ‘missing’ and ‘found/recovered’ children covered under the Child Protection Services and the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection) Act, 2015.
  • Helpline: CHILDLINE (1098) is a 24 × 7 emergency phone outreach service for children in crisis which links them to emergency and long term care and rehabilitation services.

Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA)

  • CARA primarily deals with adoption of orphan, abandoned and surrendered children through its associated /recognised adoption agencies.
  • It functions as the nodal body for adoption of Indian children and is mandated to monitor and regulate in-country and inter-country adoptions.
  • CARA is designated as the Central Authority to deal with inter-country adoptions in accordance with the provisions of the Hague Convention on Inter-country Adoption, 1993, ratified by Government of India in 2003.

Bal Swaraj-COVID-Care

  • The portal is aimed at tracking the children affected by COVID-19 right from the production of children before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) to the restoration of the children to their parent/guardian/relative and its subsequent follow-up.
  • Through the data filled in the portal by the District officers and State officers for each child, the Commission will be able to get information about whether the child is being able to get his/her entitlements, benefits and monetary gains for which the child is entitled to.
  • It will also come to know whether the child has been produced before the CWC and the orders are being passed for him/her.

Conclusion

It should be remembered that there are many notable figures in world history that did not have a mother or a father who served humanity in leading positions, like politicians and scientists. To ensure the safety of all children, especially orphans and abandoned children, governments should initiate awareness-raising campaigns supported by the work of non-governmental organizations that reach out to individuals; while aid organizations that rely on a volunteering workforce should enhance their scope of impact by setting themselves up more strategically on larger territories.

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