In love of my son

IMG_20160415_183339_1460820419530I cried. Yes, I cried alone. No one was there to see my tears. Oh No, that scientific invention to capture even the private most moment of an individual was there to record my state. The CCTV. Some ‘Big Brother/Boss’ at the hospital designated to oversee the security services had perhaps seen my sufferings.

Blood sample has been taken for Culture. It requires 72 hours to come the report, they say. OMG, medicines or cocktales, I cannot say. IV, oral, nasal, and even rectal … what not. All to reduce fever and control the infection. More of tragedy is while drawing blood. It was on three days back for CBC (comprehensive blood count) and CRP (c reactive protein). And now for Culture, twice pricked and again to vein open.

How much of pain a kid has to suffer. Some months back, perhaps he was still a newborn, there was a physiological jaundice, a normal condition which gets subsides with early morning sun bath. But when he was taken to a Pediatrician, he told a rare chance causing such symptoms because of abnormal thyroid function. And again, a tiny body has to face a sharp needle to give blood for the medications.

Finally, on the 6th day of admission at hospital, he was discharged and taken to home. It was much of relief.

Children should be treated as human beings

There are many ways to death, but there is only one way to be born. In a country like Nepal, where many of the children die before reaching their fifth birthday, the gravity of the sentence is much higher. The concern here however is not only about making children able to reach their fifth birth day but rather advocating for them to be able to enjoy their childhood so that they could be in their productive days strong enough in all aspects-physical, mental and social. Only this can make them ideal human beings. Human beings have freedom of choice, basic human rights, and access to resources, and respect. They are successful only in presence of such attributes. Children must be prepared to be successful human beings. In order to be successful human beings, children should be treated as human beings.

By children we mean that the group of population which is below than 15 years. The national census of 2001 suggests that children shares 39 % of total population. Nepali Children are facing different types of problems due to various reasons. According to the 2001 census, about 29 per cent of the children within the age group 10-14 are economically active and among which about 62 per cent are engaged in Agriculture and related activities. The highest share of children population shares by the Central Development Region (33.7 per cent) followed by Eastern Development Region (22.7 per cent), Western Development Region (20.3 per cent), Mid-Western Development Region (12.7 per cent) and Far Western Development Region (10.3 per cent) respectively for 2001. Likewise, the Terai Region has the highest percentage (48.3 per cent), followed by the Hill Region has (45.1 percent) and the Mountain Region has the lowest percentage (6.5 per cent) of children population for the same year.

The World Summit for children endorsed a declaration and a plan of action to implement the declaration for the survival, protection and development of children. Nepal had a high level participation in the summit expressed its commitments to fulfill their goals. Likewise, at the 11th summit of the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (SAARC) held in Kathmandu, the SAARC leaders including Nepal had expressed their strong commitments for the regional arrangements for the promotion of welfare of children. In line to these commitments, Nepal Government included children as a development concern for the first time in the seventh five year plan (1985-90). Moreover, the government has made the required amendments in the Child Protection Act to ensure that the rights of the children are protected at any cost. The establishment of a special court to deal with child related injustice is a major step forward in protecting the rights of the children. Because of such efforts and ratification of Convention of Rights of the Child, the children found a place in the Constitution of Nepal.

Family seems to be completed after having the children. A woman with children is regarded as a complete woman and respected than other with no child. Besides, they are also the future of the nation. However, children are the most vulnerable section of the society as well. They are vulnerable in a sense that they are not able to express their specific needs and are at risk of being exploited. This is even truer in country like Nepal where the level of awareness towards human rights is very miserable. To overcome such malady, an   action to ensure a child’s right to survival, right to development, right to protection and right to participation is imperative. Possible measures could be assurance of child friendly home, school, hospital and community.

Now comes the question, whether the problem is manageable or not. My answer is yes for three reasons-problems, resources and solutions. We have identified the problem and its magnitude. We can arrange the resources to devise solutions to it. Finally, there are cost effective and feasible solutions. The other parts of the world have solved or are also solving the issue in a same way. Thus, we can also do the same as often said; there is no problem without solutions. So, with due recognition to children, it needs to be done something substantive for their benefit.

The roles of parents to decide on the affairs of the children are a hot issue these days. Some says children should have their own say on this, while others argue that this has to be decided by their parents as they are not able to make decisions for themselves. I argue they should have their based on their ability. By ability I mean the evolving capacities of the child with their age and education. When parents decide on the affairs of their child, children are away from the decision making which is going to affect them in the days to come. In Nepal, children are not entertaining freedom of choice as evidenced by national statistics that the practice of child marriage in rural Nepal is 54% for the period of 2000 to 2009 (UNICEF, 2010).  It is only with freedom of choice the personality of a child is reflected. Therefore children should have freedom of choice based on their ability and need.

Nepal is one among many countries where the state of human rights is not that much encouraging. There are many instances of human rights abuses. The children are at greater risk as they do not have enough say as adults. This causes more abuses to them. The Children should entertain basic human rights. National statistics of vaccination coverage being just 79% which being below than national target of universal coverage reflects how the right to health is not being met. The same holds true as 43 % of children the age of five are suffering from pneumonia which is preventable. Only healthy children represent a healthy nation.

Likewise, many of the developing countries like Nepal are facing with the challenge of educating to its all people, mainly the children. Children do not know this reality. The convention of child rights has advocated for the concept of compulsory primary education and free education to all. The right of each person to get education in also mentioned in the human rights declaration. In Nepal, primary school enrollment /attendance rate is at 84% for the period between 2005 and 2009 which is below the target of universal goal of education for all.  Children are not only the treasure of the present but also the nation’s future citizens; any action to increase educational status of the children will eventually benefits the country and its people in the long run.

Children’s access to resources is largely attributed with their right to choice, freedom and others. Everything is associated with the access to the resources. In Nepal, children need to depend on parents for resources. Resources do not always mean financial resources. It could be access to information, health, treatment, social security, living, education and justice. Currently, children do not have access to such resources in full. One measure to move towards it could be reducing birth rates and ensuring small family so that even little resource can be distributed fairly. They should have justifiable access to resource for their independency according to their capacity.

Children have the right to express their opinion. In Nepal, it is customary to make decisions by parents on behalf of children which may affect the children. In doing so, it is not my argument that children are always able to tell their parents about what is to be done. Instead, children should be encouraged to have their say and parents should listen and respect them. This must be in accordance with child’s level of maturity.  Children are not much respected as adults on decision making and such. In addition, Nepal is not able to resist the abuses and violence to children. Only 23 % of people are known about domestic violence according to UNICEF data for the period of 2005 and 2009. Children are future adults. So, they should therefore be respected and participatory decision should be made.

Whole discussion till now focused upon different aspects of the child rights and their importance to the children. Lets now see what may happens if these rights are not ensured. To start from family level, a child who has not entertained the rights may not be able to develop its physical, mental and social development. Such children cannot lead productive days in his life. This not only affects him or her but also will become the burden to the family instead of being source of happiness. The same holds true for nation although it manifests differently. The citizens are the human resources of the country. We can relate the fate of the nation with the fate of its citizens. Non productive citizens mean increase of government expenditure in a country like Nepal where regular budget outnumbers the development budget in most of the years. This hampers the national development.

The notion that the children as the building blocks of the society need special care and nourishing cannot be ignored. However, as discussed throughout the paper the state of Nepali children is vulnerable. It is no doubt that nation’s future is in the same vulnerable section of the society upon reaching adulthood. According to article 4 of Convention on the Rights of the Children, the governments must ensure by laws that the children should be protected even by reviewing the existing laws to meet at least minimum required conditions to protect their children. Moreover, to prepare children to be successful, they must be treated as human beings. Finally, I want to conclude with Gandhi’s saying on Children. If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.


References

A World Fit for Children, 1990, UNICEF

Fact Sheet: A summary of the rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF

Legislation and Policies for Child Protection, www.unicef.org/nepal/5522_Legislation_and_policies_for_child_protection.htm

Child Development, www.mowcsw.gov.np/policies-12-en.html

Statistics, www.unicef.org/nepal