The neglected children facing hunger, abuse and conflicts
As the Children’s Day nears (November 14), political speeches will be getting drafted in the corridors of power along the strain that this or that is being done for the children of the country, but the stark facts to the ground realities might not just shock but leave one terribly pained.
There are significant pointers to the fact that a substantial percentage of the children in the country are subjected to abuse and mental trauma. Children are also dying because of hunger and lack of the basic food nutrients…severely malnourished are lakhs of our children. Though there are hundreds of sarkari advertisements which boast of providing clean drinking water but in many locales only muddy drops trickle …parched are the stretches and there’s no accountability. If the local population cries out for food and drinkable water, they are given the “Hindu-Muslim lollypop”! Yes, communal tensions are created by the political mafia to distract and divert attention from the basic issues.
And if one was under the impression that child marriages are a thing of the past then do try read the latest data that reveals that child marriages are still taking place. No research or follow up on the future of those couples; many perhaps manipulated or bundled off or lured into the marriage trap, as poverty and illiteracy holds sway.
In many regions there’s an increase in the numbers of the children going through various forms of disadvantages and burdens. Child trafficking is a known reality yet where’s the halt to children getting bought and sold in the various markets?
Sheer poverty and the hopelessly failing system is killing hundreds of our children in their very childhood . In the summer of 2022, a horrifying videop was in circulation. The video was of an eight year old boy sitting on the roadside, holding the body of his 2 year baby brother, whilst his father Poojaram Jatav goes looking for an affordable vehicle which could carry the dead child to their home in the Ambah tehsil in Madhya Pradesh’s Morena. Painful backgrounders followed: the child was severely anaemic and unwell and so the father decided to get him to the district hospital in Morena but he was declared dead during the treatment. And when the father wanted an ambulance to get home with the body, the hospital simply refused and the father couldn’t afford to hire any of the private ambulances. It’s then he went looking for a vehicle, leaving the body with the older brother who was found sitting with the body on the roadside, for hours…To compound the tragedy for the family, the mother of these children was not around; she had left for her parent’s home three months back and Poojaram Jatav was said to be looking after the children (four of them) singlehandedly.
This is could be the dark dismal reality hitting hundreds here, in our country.
What happens to the survival of thousands of such families and children who cannot afford to get the basic food and medical care? Who is responsible for their famished-hopeless-anaemic existence? Who is answerable? Who is accountable? Who all of the political and administrative who’s who, who ought be questioned for the sheer plight and misery and sorrow of our children?
It is undeniable that children surviving in the conflict zones, face an additional load of trauma and anxieties together with insecurities. Ask the children of Manipur and Kashmir and of the so many other regions where conflict and civil strife holds sway!
Also, children from the minority communities and groups face the burden of the communal virus so very systematically unleashed all around them. One case after another. The blatantly horrific one was of that school teacher in Uttar Pradesh, Tripti Tyagi, provoking cum ordering children of the class to slap one of the Muslim students of the class.
Not sure what is the condition of children inside jails – those who sit with their imprisoned mothers and also those in juvenile homes. There’s little information trickling out from across the high walls.
Young and dying in Palestine
And if one were to see shots and videos of hundreds of the Palestinian children being killed in Gaza, then words cannot describe the turmoil and pain hitting the very soul.
Though most of the so called world leaders (some could be also called war- criminals… yes, accused of war crimes!) are fathers and grandfathers but seem little bothered about the ongoing killings and deaths in Gaza. Those cries of the injured and dying are so very traumatic and painful….I have been questioning myself: Is this the so called developed world? Is this the world that talks of peace whilst indulging in mass scale genocide? Is this world fit enough for humans to survive in, where even infants and new born children are not spared?
As fears and apprehensions grow of Palestinians getting hounded from their very own homeland, it is absolutely urgent that there ought to be an immediate halt to these killings and barbaric targeted onslaughts on the hapless civilian population in and around Gaza. Immediate ceasefire and truce talks. After all, violence and killings are no solution and lead to counter violence and anarchy.
Leaving you with these two verses of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish:
‘The war will end/
The leaders will shake hands/
The old woman will keep waiting for her martyredson/
The girl will wait for her beloved husband/
And those children will wait for their hero father/
I don’t know who sold our homeland/
But I saw who paid the price.’
‘He is quiet and so am I./
He is quiet and so am I./
He sips tea with lemon, while I drink coffee./
That’s the difference between us./
I think: Maybe he’s a killer…/
or maybe a passer by who thinks/
I am a killer./
He’s afraid…and so am I./
Humra Quraishi is a Gurgaon based independent writer-columnist-journalist.