Status of Child Rights in Nagaland

Mengukhriezo Yiese
MSW 1st Semester, NEISSR Chümoukedima

Introduction: Victims of child trafficking mostly belong to poor economic and educational background, commonly between the age group of 7 to 18 years. With a wish for their children to achieve higher education, or to complete the children’s unfinished education, parents send children to stay with relatives in cities. This process which seems harmless has over the years turned into a well-orchestrated process of trafficking of children. The trafficking takes place through known individuals from the local areas. 

It is observed that some children from the eastern side of Nagaland sent to stay with people who are considered as progressive in comparison. In exchange for food, clothing and education, children have to work in the employers’ house. A parent may or may not get any money in return. Additionally, the promises of educating these children are sometimes not fulfilled by the employer and instead physically and sexually exploited. Many a times, children from rural areas of Nagaland are brought to the more developed cities such as Dimapur or Kohima who fall victim of abuse.

Human Rights: Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status. Human rights include the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, freedom of opinion and expression, the right to work and education, and many more.  Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a document that acts like a global road map for freedom and equality – protecting the rights of every individual, everywhere. It was the first time countries agreed on the freedoms and rights that deserve universal protection in order for every individual to live their lives freely, equ¬¬ally and in dignity.

Human Rights as Child Right: Children’s rights are human rights. They protect the child as a human being. As human rights, children’s rights are constituted by fundamental guarantees and essential human rights:

•    Children’s rights recognize fundamental guarantees to all human beings: the right to life, the non-discrimination principle, the right to dignity through the protection of physical and mental integrity.

•    Children’s rights are civil and political rights, such as the right to identity, the right to a nationality.

•    Children’s rights are economic, social and cultural rights, such as the right to education, the right to a decent standard of living, the right to health.

•    Children’s rights include individual rights: the right to live with his or her parents, the right to education, the right to benefit from protection.

Child Rights Violation in Nagaland: Every child has the right to play, relax and engage in activities that are productive in every aspect of life. All the activities that a child loves to do help them to explore their talents, inborn capacities and also gain experience to solve their own problems. When a child is properly guided in the right way, it has positive impact towards their personal life and also to the community. The future is in the hand of all the young children to make the society better or worst on how a child is being taught.

Despite the rise of violation of child, very little has been done to ensure child protection in Nagaland. Lack of services and non-availability of statistics on children has further intensified the gaps in this area. While loopholes have been identified in the implementing process, affected children are at the receiving end with no adequate facilities to give them the required protection. This has also highlighted the absence of full time NGOs dedicated to the cause of children’s welfare in the State. Speaking about child abuse, there are no strong NGOs in dealing with child welfare or no full time NGO in the whole of Nagaland apart.

In Nagaland, there are children who are promised of quality education, but sadly most of the time they are made to work as a maid, baby sitter and often treated badly. The child works continuously without rest and are often physically abused and deprived of proper meal. Even young children, as young as 5 years, are being force to work, make them do all the heavy works or lift heavy items beyond their capacity and energy. They are also deprived of basic clothes and other needs such as food, resting place and most importantly, proper education. 

In schools as well, it has been observed that some teachers pressure the child to study without doing their duty of teaching them properly. It is a teacher’s duty to educate a child but some teachers does the opposite. Beating the students unreasonably, raising hands on them which is illegal leads the child not wanting to attend school out of fear. In Nagaland, it is sad to hear of incidents where the child gets violated by the teacher. Is this because people do not want to create drama? Or people of Nagaland don’t want to help each other?

Sadly, Naga people only care in expressing their anger in words but do not put their thoughts into action. When a neighbour is violating the rights of child staying with them, the people in Naga society do not raise their voice to help the child, instead turn away from the situation because they do not want to hurt the neighbour by speaking the truth or just mind their own business.

Intervention to stop Violation of Child Right

1.    Engagement of Government: It should be the priority of the Government of Nagaland to stand firm in its place for the child rights protection. The government is the first and foremost organisation to control all violation.

2.    Strong NGOs: It is necessary to establish strong NGOs to protection every child from all the violations. The NGOs should work with the Government cooperatively.

3.    Community Leaders: Community leaders play the most important role in the Naga society. They have the power to manage the whole society, and therefore, community leaders should step up for the violation of child and take strict actions towards the violators.

4.    Students’ Union: The students’ union should actively participate for the protection of children at school. 

5.    Church: Church is a place where people come together to worship God. As Naga people are mostly considered as “Christian” and church going people, the truth should be spoken to the people.

Conclusion: In Nagaland, the CHILDLINE services are operative in Dimapur and Kohima since 2011 and 2015 respectively. It aims to reach out to every child who is in need of care and protection by dialing the Toll Free number “1098” which is operative for 24x7. It also deal with missing children, child abuse, runaway children, children in need of medical assistance, domestic child labour, child traffic. Along with these services, as a Christian State, Naga people should set good example for others. Naga people are known for being truthful people. Today as we are progressing with more advancement, it is time for Naga people to step up and stand together to fight for child rights.

This article won the Article Writing Competition 2023 organised by AIDA-Child Friendly Dimapur on the theme “Status of Child Rights in Nagaland.” The Competition was open for the MSW students of NEISSR Chümoukedima. The results were declared on December 2, 2023.