30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC): Do we really care for our children?

This year (2019) marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the first legally binding international instrument to incorporate the full range of human rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights for children.

The four core principles of the Convention are:
1) non-discrimination
2) devotion to the best interests of the child
3) the right to life, survival, and development
4) respect for the views of the child

With 193 countries ratifying it, the Convention has achieved near-universal acceptance – India ratified the Convention on December 11, 1992.

By ratifying the CRC, India has committed itself to protect and promote children’s rights. Hence, India is obliged to develop and undertake all actions and policies in the best interests of its children.

But here lies the irony

As reported by the Government of India’s National Leprosy Eradication Programme (NLEP), 135,485 leprosy cases were detected in 2016-17, of which 11,792 were children (8.70% of the new cases).

This means, over 30 children are diagnosed with leprosy every day in India. This also means every 45 minutes, a child is diagnosed with leprosy and 1 out of every 12 persons diagnosed is a child.

Unlike the grown-ups, a diagnosis of leprosy has far-reaching implications in the lives of children. Because of the stigma associated with the disease, they are denied the opportunity to go to school, study, play with friends, and make a future for themselves. They face discrimination at school and in the community they live. They silently bear it when their rights are violated. It’s as if their childhood is snatched from them and they are thrown into the graveyard of dead dreams!

While observing the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the CRC, it’s time for us to ask ourselves a pertinent question: What are we doing to save our children from leprosy which destroys their lives much before they bloom?