Pellet Guns and Children of Kashmir Valley

Armed conflicts are no longer fought on well-defined battlefields, but in and around communities. As a result, communities suffer massive material damage, such as losses of homes, schools, livelihoods, health facilities, and other infrastructure. War and violence not only disrupt social cohesion, but wreck the very foundation of communities. 
The burden of this social transformation fall disproportionately on children, who are defined under international law as people under 18 years of age and who comprise almost half the population in the war-torn countries. 
In many armed conflicts, particularly in the protracted ones that last a decade or more, children may grow up with violence as a constant part of their daily lives and have no reference point for conceptualizing peace. Violence affected Kashmir is not an exception.  The ongoing conflict in Jammu and Kashmir is amongst the oldest unresolved conflicts under United Nations. Children in Jammu and Kashmir are living in the most militarized zone of the world, with the presence of 7,00,000 troopers, which exposes them to the risk of all grave six violations against children as laid out in UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Victims caused by Pellet Guns in Kashmir
To maintain the law and order, the government used different methods of crowd control and one among them was the use of pellet guns. Though Police claim that it is a “non lethal weapon”, but doctors treating pellet victims say it maims a person forever. 
The pellet guns were first used in Kashmir in 2010 by Omar Abdullah government during the series of violent protests against the civilian killings. The term “pellet gun” is misleading when used to describe the shotguns used by Indian security forces in Kashmir. “Pellet gun” typically denotes the compressed air guns used in other parts of the world for recreational purposes. Unlike these pellet guns, which use compressed air to create force, the 12-gauge shotguns used by Indian security forces use explosive powders, which are more powerful and can be lethal. As the protesters are normally children and adults, so they are always vulnerable to pellet guns. 

Replying to a question in the Legislative Council, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said 1,084 pellet-gun injuries were reported in Baramulla district, followed by 1,041 in Pulwama, 1,031 in Kulgam, 888 in Kupwara, 873 in Anantnag, 808 in Shopian, 183 in Bandipora, 167 in Budgam, 110 in Srinagar and 36 in Ganderbal district. 
Insha, 16 years old, was hit by pellets on the evening of July 11, 2016, three days after Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed when she opened a window to look outside her home in Sedow village of south Kashmir’s Shopian district. 
Ifrah, 17, whose house is on a main road in Pulwama's Rahmoo village, was shot by pellet guns when she left home to fetch her younger brother on 31 July, 2016. The teenager had already lost her father to cross-border firing in 2007 and has been living with her grandfather, Abdul Aziz. She lost complete vision in her left eye and can only partially see from the right. Shabroza, 17, was similarly hit by pellets on 31 October, 2016, and she lost vision in her left eye. 

The Sad Truth about Child Marriages around the World

Read this post authored by Ava Smith for some shocking statistics and the real picture behind child marriage, a social menace that needs to be addressed all around the world at the earliest. 

The Gloomy Picture: Shocking Stats about Child Marriage the World Over

The United Nations states that by 2030, the count of girls being married off as children (before they reach the marriageable age in their respective countries) will cross 1.2 billion. That is more than one-seventh of the world’s population right now. Are we ready to carry that kind of burden in our souls for the rest of our lives?

Shocking statistics from all around the world reveal the sad picture for the girls of this generation. While the developed nations rest comfortably ensconced in the privileges brought to them by education, awareness, and stringent law enforcement practices, the ones from the not-so-developed areas of the globe bear the brunt of age-old traditions and lack of alternative modes of living.

Featured image used for representative purposes only. Courtesy: Talk of the Town


Child marriage is legal in some countries

What’s more, six countries in the world do not have a specific minimum age for marriage for boys and girls in their country. That makes it even more dangerous for the kids growing up in those countries. The ones that do not have a minimum age limit for getting married are:

1.       Yemen
2.      South Sudan
3.      Somalia
4.      Saudi Arabia
5.      Gambia
6.      Equatorial Guinea

Not having a specific minimum age for marriage makes child marriage somewhat of a legal occurrence in the countries mentioned above. That itself is atrocious enough to sit up and take notice of what’s going wrong with the rest of the countries that still cannot keep such a social evil in check despite having the laws for it.

Looking into the matter of child marriage across the world

Girls in countries like Mozambique, Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia and Bangladesh suffer a cruel twist of fate when they have to get married way before the ideal time. Here are some of the shocking statistics about child marriages that take place around the world, every day.

®    7% of girls in the Middle East and North Africa, 9% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa, and 14% of girls in South Asia are married off between the age of 15 to 19.

®    12 million girls are married off each year before they reach 18 years of age. That estimate comes to around 23 underage girls getting married against their wills or wishes per minute. Yes, you read that right. It is that grave a matter.

®    The highest percentage of child marriages take place in Niger (76%) followed by Central African Republic (68%), Chad (67%) and Bangladesh (59%).

Causes and consequences of child marriage

Child marriage shows no signs of stopping. Children married off at tender ages not only fall prey to disease and violence, but their childhoods are also marred by the complications that life and society forces on them to tackle at such ages.

    Causes of child marriage

The reasons that child marriage is still prevalent all around the world are as follows –

(i)          Poverty: Poverty is one of the leading causes of child marriage being such a rampant practice in most Third World countries. The inability to sustain the female members of the family becomes one of the leading causes to marry off daughters at tender ages so that they can work in the fields and at home as manual labour without charging additional wages.

(ii)          Lack of education: The lack of education and awareness about the consequences of early marriage (especially on the body and minds of the children) also leads to child marriage. Most of the people living in areas where child marriage is a common practice are not literate. They are not aware of the dire consequences that their children face when married off before they come of marriageable age.

(iii)     Age-old traditions and norms: Societal norms and traditions sometimes force the parents to indulge in child marriage because that is how it has been for generations of girls before them.

(iv)        Weak law enforcement: Child marriage continues to be a growing menace in countries where the law enforcement agencies are lax. Poor law enforcement ensures that the parents go scot-free even after committing a ‘crime' in the eyes of the law.

(v)         Gender discrimination: Cultures that do not value females or their worth in society, such as the sub-Saharan countries, tend to have high rates of child marriage as well. Disrespecting their very right to live a life of their choice, girls in such societies fall prey to the social evil that is child marriage.

Sampurna Behrua Versus Union of India & Ors

This petition was called on for hearing today (24/07/2015 ).

.., we pass the following directions:

(1) It is mandated that every State should have a Juvenile Justice Board in place in every District on or before 31st December, 2015.
Arunachal Pradesh is very vast and perhaps does not have much juvenile crime. If that is so, the State of Arunachal Pradesh need not have a Juvenile Justice Board in every District, but the other States and Union Territories must have a Juvenile Justice Board in every District, as mentioned above on or before 31st December, 2015.

It is made clear that there is no prohibition in law in having more than one Juvenile Justice Board in a District depending upon the number of pending inquiries and the distance involved in moving children from the Observation Home to the venue of the Juvenile Justice Board.
Therefore, it is made clear that a District can have more than one Juvenile Justice Board.
For example, in the District of Pune, there are 1935 inquiries pending (as on 31.3.2015) as reported by NALSA, and there seems to be no reason why there should be only one Juvenile Justice Board in that District.                    
Under the circumstances, wherever necessary, more than one Juvenile Justice Board should be set up in districts, wherever necessary.

We, therefore, direct the Registrar General of all the High Courts to take up the matter with Hon'ble the Chief Justice of the High Court and the Juvenile Justice Committee of the High Court and look into this matter in conjunction with the Executive Chairman of the State Legal Services Authority and the Member Secretary of the State Legal Services Authority and set up an appropriate number of Juvenile Justice Boards, wherever necessary.

Street Children of Bodh Gaya

Bodh Gaya is a place in the state of Bihar in Gaya district and known for Maha Bodhi Temple. It is a place where Siddhartha became enlightened and thus called Buddha. Bodh Gaya is international heritage and pilgrimage of Buddhist religion come from around the world apart from tourist and people from other religions. The Hindu people, who are the largest in number in India, also come in large number to visit Bodh Gaya. Many Hindu ideologies consider Buddha as one of incarnation in Hindu mythology. This historic, cultural and religious place, so it attracts the tourists from around the world.  In 2002, Mahabodhi Temple, located in Bodh Gaya, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bodh Gaya and other places like Kushenagar, Lumbini, Sarnath and other places have significance importance, but Bodh Gaya is more important because it is the place where Siddhartha became Buddha or enlightened (about 528 BC). It is believed that 250 years after the Enlightenment of the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka build the original Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya.

Street children selling puffed rice and offerings to temples
Bodh Gaya is not only a place of historical and pilgrimage importance, but also a place which provides many people the source of livelihood and employment.  The street vendors, tour operators, guides, hotels, restaurants, auto rickshaw, charity organizations etc. all have the source of financial gain to exist and survive. One section of society which does not have much money like tour operators or hotels, but they also have source of livelihood from this world heritage. Flower sellers, sellers of many kind of offering (puffed rice) to Buddhist temples, beggars and destitute from around the villages also survive through this site.

Family and caste
In the village area of Bodh Gaya, second marriage is common in schedule castes family. In Manjhi, Ravidas and Paswan, male and females do remarriage even without divorce, but mostly in Manjhi. After marriage the children from first marriage abandoned. Number of single parents is high in this region which is also a reason for street children. People mostly belong to schedule case and high low income, high illiteracy, very less lands for agriculture. Mahto is one of caste which comes under other backward caste and have agriculture land and their main source of income is agriculture, so children from this community are very few in number on street or as beggars.

Education of street children
Street children on the gate of Tibetan Temple 
There are basically 3 kinds of street children in Bodh Gaya. One who comes part time to earn some money in the morning and evening, rest time go to school and stay with family in nearby village. The Second kind of children is with their family on street, begging with parents. Street is their life. The number of such children although less in off seasons. Some children whose parents are street vendors, who stayed with family and income is comparatively better to survive, few goes to schools many of them are also dropouts.

As talked with NGOs personals, there is not any non-formal school near main temple area which runs for street children as part time.

The number of street children varies as tourists and pilgrimage, in winter during Kalchakra period, Bodh Gaya is full of beggars, street children and street vendors due to high income opportunity.

NGOs for destitute children
There is a home ‘Lord Buddha Home for Children’ some NGOs run by Nav Bharat Jagriti Kendra, an NGO with good infrastructure. It also provides vocational training to both boys and girls, like mobile repairing, computer, sewing, beautician etc. and shelter for such destitute children. It is situated at other side of Niranjana River in Silaunja village. There are 68 children in this residential school. It also has pathlabs, doctors twice a week and other facilities.

Importance of Girls' Education

Girls’ education is one of the most effective ways for ending poverty in developing nations. The benefits of their education are seen by individuals, their families, and throughout society. These benefits include:
  • Reducing the number of babies women have
  •  Lowering infant and child mortality rates
  •  Lower maternal mortality rates
  •  Protecting against HIV/AIDS infection
  •  Increased number of women with jobs and higher earnings and
  •  Benefits that last many generations
“Education liberates a woman” – Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
Education for girls can have the benefit of delaying marriage and pregnancy for young girls. Instead of a girl getting married before age 20 and often suffering abuse by her husband, girls who attend primary and secondary school are more likely to have a say in who they marry. Girls who attend school also are able to use more effective methods of family planning and therefore have fewer and healthier babies. An educated girl and woman will have learned about HIV/AIDS and know many different ways to protect herself from getting the disease. Every year of schooling helps a girl make better decisions for her and her family.

Women who attended school often have healthier families. These women are more likely to seek medical help from clinics or doctors. Because they can read, literate women can understand a doctor’s detailed instructions and follow up for help if needed. These women also can read nutritional labels and provide their family healthy meals that promote growth and lower cholesterol. Education also teaches young ones the importance of keeping herself and her house clean and safe.