December 9, 2022

Supreme court’s advisory committee on eradication of Child Prostitution

Children of the world are innocent, vulnerable and dependent. They are all curious, active and full of hope. Their life should be full of joy and peace, playing, learning and growing. Their future should be shaped in harmony and co-operation. Their childhood should mature, as they broaden their perspectives and gain new experience. Abandoning the children, excluding good foundation of life for them, is a crime against humanity.

The children cannot wait till tomorrow; they grow every day; along with them grows their sense of awareness about the surroundings. Tomorrows is no answer; the goal of their present care, protection and rehabilitation is the need of the hour.

Therefore, the supreme court had the occasion to discuss the modules for the eradication of prostitution when a petition was filed before the court to segregate the children of prostitutes from them and to provide them better educational facility.

The supreme court constituted a Committee on November 1989, and directed the Committee to submit its report giving suggestions for appropriate action. The committee submitted its report and suggested a module for the eradication of prostitution and what action is to be taken to rescue, rehabilitate and bring the children of fallen women into the mainstream of the society?

Three Cs (CCC)

As per the committee, three Cs (CCC) are necessary for successful implementation, rescue and rehabilitate the children of the fallen woman living in the red light area.

These are-

  • Counselling, cajoling by persuasion and
  • Coercion, as the last resort.

65.5% of the fallen women have children and usually they are in the age group of one to ten years. Generally, they prefer to keep their children away from them while they are in the act of intercourse except those children who are very young.

They show keen interest to educate their children. The children tend to spend their time at study or leisure; though girl children tend to be engaged in house hold jobs as is usual among poorer classes.

Problems for Prostitutes’ Children

The children face the problems mainly due to

(i) lack of father figure to provide security, care and guidance;

(ii) increased responsibilities of mother;

(iii) economic hardships;

(iv) lack of facilities to meet basic needs;

(v) unhealthy social environment;

(vi) mal-nutrition;

(vii) coercive attempts by managers of brothels;

(viii) tauntings, due to dislike, by surrounders; and

(ix) lack of proper counselling and guidance; motivation and opportunity gaps.

The proper process for the rescue of Prostitutes’ Children

Many a prostitute themselves are child prostitutes (for short, the `CP’; they and the children of the prostitutes (for short, the COP’) need to be removed from the red light area. Generally, the police resort to IPC and ITP Act in this behalf but the forceful rescue of CP of COP in reality is not successful in their rehabilitation.

In this behalf, it is necessary to take aid of the definition of “neglected child” defined in JJ Act.

‘Neglected juvenile’ means

  • one found in begging; or
  • found without having any home or settled place of abode and
  • without any ostensible means of subsistence and is destitute; or
  • has a parent who is unfit or incapacitated to exercise control over the juvenile; or
  • lives in a brothel or with a prostitute or frequently goes to any placed used for the purpose of prostitution or is found to associate with any prostitute or any other person who leads an immoral, drunken or depraved life; or
  • who is being or is likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or illegal purposes or unconscionable gain.

Distinction between `delinquent juvenile’ and `neglected juvenile’

The JJ Act makes distinction between `delinquent juvenile’ and `neglected juvenile’ attributing to a delinquent juvenile an act or omission punishable by law to identify him as a delinquent juvenile.

A neglected juvenile is one who is of the age of 16 years in the case of a boy and 18 years in the case of a girl, or whose parents are unfit because of being living in prostitution, or the child born to a prostitution becomes a neglected juvenile. A child brought to associate with a prostitute or is engaged in the prostitution or the profession of prostitution or another juvenile who leads an immoral or depraved life or one who is likely to be abused or exploited for immoral or illegal purposes for unconscionable gain is also a juvenile.

The crime is not attached for identifying him/her as neglected juvenile; it is so in the case of a delinquent juvenile under the Act. They are to be kept in the juvenile home as a place of safety.

An institution established or certified by a State Government under Section 9 of the JJ Act is a juvenile home. The object of the Act is not to punish the juvenile but to rehabilitate him/her, be it a delinquent juvenile or neglected juvenile.

In the latter case, it is one of obligations of the State of provide for care and concern of the State to establish a juvenile home under Section 9 of the JJ Act.

Even, in certain cases, a delinquent juvenile who commits an offence like begging, being he neglected juvenile, is covered as a neglected juvenile and should not be treated as delinquent juvenile since he began begging due to destitution or was force to beg by organised gangsters. Therefore, all the types of juveniles defined within the ambit of neglected juvenile, though attached with certain acts of omission, are punishable under law, they still remain to be neglected juvenile and should be dealt with by the Welfare Board and be brought within the protective umbrella of the juvenile home established under Section 9.

Establishment of juvenile home, thus, is a mandatory duty of the State to provide teeth to the provisions of the Constitution, the Directive Principles, the Convention on the Right of the Child read with principles of United Nations Declaration and National Policy of the Government of India referred to hereinbefore, and are protected by the JJ Act. Every child who is found to be neglected juvenile should be dealt by the Board and should be brought within the protective umbrella of the juvenile home.

The attribution as ‘neglected children’ is not social stigma; the purpose is to identify the children as juveniles to be dealt with under the JJ Act which is more a reformative and rehabilitated centre rather than for punishing the child as criminal; and mend their behavior and conduct. In an appropriate case, where the treatment of bringing the neglected juvenile into the national mainstream takes long time, the definition coupled with age prescription, should not be strictly interpreted to deny the ameliorative care, consideration and rehabilitation of the neglected juveniles.

The benefit of reformation, rehabilitation and bringing them into the mainstream after the passing of the age prescription under the Act, is the goal sought to be achieved. Lest, it has the effect of throwing the neglected juvenile into the vile of prostitution or exploitating him for organised crimes by the organised gangsters taking advantage of this immaturity and despondence; that would be deleterious to the child’s development and would widen the deep gap between hope and reality in the operation of the provisions hereinbefore referred to.

The definition of `neglected juvenile’, therefore, should be interpreted broadly which is an important function for the purpose of identifying the groups of children who need care and attention and protection for rehabilitation. Their withdrawal from the protective umbrella of the JJ Act foils the goals set out; besides all measures to bring the neglected juvenile into the mainstream of the social status end up in failure and frustration. Even if the economic capacity of the mother of neglected juvenile in the red light area to educate and to bring him up would not relieve the child from social trauma; it would always be adverse to keep the neglected juvenile in the custody of the mother or the manager of the brothel; thus, the child prostitute is usage and insecure. So, they should be rescued, cared for and rehabilitated.

As stated earlier, the three C’s, namely, counselling, cajoling and coercion of the fallen women to part with the child or child prostitute herself from the manager of the brothel is more effective, efficacious and meaningful method to rescue the child prostitute or the neglected juvenile. The income criteria, therefore, is not a factor not to rescue the child prostitute or the neglected juvenile for rehabilitation. It is of necessity to remember that the arms of law are long enough to mould the law to operate on the even keel. The coercive power with the law enforcement agency to rescue the child prostitute or the neglected juvenile, may not necessarily end up as a successful means. It would be last resort when all avenues fail.

Involvement of the non-governmental organisations

On the other hand, involvement of the non-governmental organisations in particular women organisations which are more resourceful for counselling and cautioning, would make deep dent into the thinking mould of the fallen victims and would be a source of success for their retrieval from the prostitution or sending the neglected juvenile to the juvenile homes for initial treatment, psychologically and mentally, and will yield place to voluntariness to surrender guardianship of the child prostitute or neglected juvenile to the Welfare Board or to the NGOs to take custody of a child prostitute or the neglected juvenile for, care, protection and rehabilitation.

If the NGOs in particular women members of the NGOs pursue and counsel the mothers of the children or managers of child prostitutes to have them into custody and if proper care and treatment is given, rehabilitation is the sure road to the successful results; it would be a success rather than frustration of the enforcement of the JJ Act. It is, therefore, clear imperative that proper planning, constant counselling and persuasion are the appropriate means, rather than abrupt to ad hoc coercive steps, unless it becomes the last resort, for successful enforcement of the scheme.

Proper method required to rehabilitate the neglected juvenile or child prostitute

It is rather unfortunate that the juvenile homes established and being run by the Government are not effectively been managed and yielding expected results. They become ornament for the statistical purpose defeating the constitutional objectives and international Conventions which are part of the municipal law.

  • The child prostitutes rescued from the red light areas should be shifted into the juvenile homes. They should ensure their protection in the homes.
  • The officers in charge of the juvenile homes, the welfare officers and the probation officers should coordinate the operation and enforce it successfully. They should be made responsible for the protection of the child prostitutes or the neglected juveniles kept in the juvenile homes for psychological treatment in the first instance relieving them from the trauma under which they were subjected to while in the brothels and red light areas.
  • The special police authorities should be established to coordinate with the social welfare officers of the State Government and public spirited persons, NGOs locally available, and see that the juvenile homes are entrusted to efficient and effective management, the child prostitutes or neglected juveniles are properly protected and psychologically treated, education imparted and rehabilitation succeeded.
  • They should also be provided with proper accommodation maintenance facilities for education and other rehabilitation facilities.
  • What needs to be done is proper, efficient and effective coordination and management in particular entrustment to the NGOs which would yield better results than the management solely by the Governmental agencies. The motivation by the NGOs makes a deeper dent into the mind of the prostitute mothers or child prostitutes to retrieve them from the flesh trade and rehabilitate the children as useful citizens in the mainstream of the society.

Reference

Gaurav Jain V. Union of India; (1997) 8 SCC 114