IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON ILLEGAL ADOPTION LEADING TO CHILD TRAFFICKING
In early 2020, after a December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organization recognized SARS-CoV-2 as a brand new sort of corona virus. The outbreak has quickly spread around the whole world. From infecting little to taking lives of the people, the corona virus has proven how risky and dangerous it is. There is no way to ascertain how prolonged the corona virus will continue. The remarkable measures adopted to flatten the contamination curve consist of enforced quarantine, curfews and lockdowns, journey restrictions, and obstacles on monetary activities and public life, but even after taking all these measures the circumstances are not in control. This corona virus pandemic is putting the world under substantial stress affecting the lives of everyone. Most importantly, Children who are losing their parents are at heightened risk of exploitation.
COVID-19 & CHILD TRAFFICKING
Child trafficking happens whilst kids are taken far away from protection and exploited. Children who're trafficked are regularly pressured into a few shape of work, used for intercourse or definitely sold. From finding and recruiting children to transporting and receiving them, all this is a part of the Child trafficking. Men, women and children all around the globe are sufferers of trafficking; however children are especially at risk. Child trafficking is linked to demand for cheap labor, especially where the working conditions are poor. Children may be forced into many dangerous or illegal situations, including slavery, domestic labor, sexual exploitation or prostitution, drug couriering or being turned into child soldiers or beggars. Children who are trafficked are exposed to many harmful activities such as working in hazardous environments. Also many are denied the chance to attain their complete capacity due to the fact they don’t get training or have the liberty to make their very own choices.
In pandemic due to death of parents, children are becoming orphaned hence left without protection; as a result they become easy prey for child traffickers who can exploit them either by false adoption, coercion or with fake/wrong promises.
SOCIAL MEDIA GIVING RISE TO ILLEGAL CHILD ADOPTION
Covid-19 pandemic has created a second crisis in India – rise in Child Trafficking. The current Covid-19 pandemic is leaving orphanage children vulnerable to trafficking. The contact number & details, pictures and addresses of children orphaned by Covid-19 have been shared widely across social media platforms. Numerous messages describing tragic stories of children, allegedly left abandoned after the death of their parents due to Covid-19, are being widely circulated on social media platforms. With deaths due to the COVID-19 on the rise, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp have been flooded with citizens sharing details of children who have lost either both their parents or the only living parent with covid-19 pandemic and pleading for their adoption. This makes them bait for child traffickers who come as relatives, friends or other care taker for the purpose of adoption.
Social media posts appealing for adoption of children orphaned during COVID-19 are illegal as per the studies. Under Section 80 and 81 of the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act, 2015, such posts are illegal. The act prohibits offering or receiving children outside the processes laid down under the Act as well as their sale and purchase. Such acts are punishable with three to five years in jail or ₹1 lakh as fine. If the people sharing such piece of information have the real concern and care for those children must dial helpline 1098 or inform the district Child Welfare Committee (CWC), District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) or the helpline of the State Commission for Protection of Child Right to pass on information about children who are in need of care and protection.
The people responding to multiple viral social media messages, concerning the adoption of children whose parents have allegedly died of Covid-19, the clarification have been issued stating that such attempts at adoption are illegal and can attract punitive action under the Indian Penal Code, the Care and Protection of Children Act (2015) as well as the Centre’s Adoption Rules (2017).
It is said that Adoption is a sacred act performed by the humans but in this pandemic it has no longer remained a holy act. As per the Merriam-Webster legal dictionary legal adoption means “to take voluntarily (a child of other parents) as one’s own child especially in compliance with formal legal procedures”. The definition itself states that it should be a legal procedure.
Adoption can be either legal or illegal.
To recognize illegal adoption firstly we have to understand that what legal adoption is:
According to section 2(aa) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006, “adoption means the process through which the adopted child is permanently separated from his biological parent and becomes the legitimate child of his adoptive parents with all right, privileges and responsibility that are attached to the relationship”.
But this pandemic illegal adoption has reached great heights.
In India, an Indian whether or not he's married or single, Non-Resident Indian (NRI), or someone belonging to any nationality (foreigner) might also additionally undertake a child legally. The suggestions and documentation manner for every organization of adoptive mother and father might also additionally differ.
Under The Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956 following class of humans could make adoptions:
“Any male Hindu (which includes Buddhist, Jain or Sikh through religion) who's of sound mind and no longer a minor is eligible to undertake a son or a daughter”. But if such male has dwelling partner at a time of adoption then he can undertake a child simplest with consent of his wife (until she has been declared incompetent to offer her consent through the courtroom docket).
“Any female Hindu (which include Buddhist, Jain or Sikh through religion) who isn't married, or if married, whose husband isn't alive or her marriage has been dissolved or her husband has been declared incompetent through the courtroom docket has the capability to take a son or daughter in adoption”.
Personal legal guidelines of Muslim, Parsis and Jews do now no longer comprehend entire adoption so if someone belonging to such faith has a choice to undertake an infant can take the guardianship of an infant under section 8 of the Guardians and Wards Act, 1890.
This statute simplest makes an infant a ward, now no longer an adoptive infant. According to this statute, the movement child turns to the age of 21, he is no longer consider as a ward and treated as individual identity.
Christians can only adopt a child for foster care under the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890. Once a foster child gets major, they can sever all ties with their adoptive parents.
However, under Guardians and Wards Act, an adoption can also take place from an orphanage through legal process i.e., by obtaining permission from the court.
The Guardians and Ward Acts of 1890 are silent about the adoption of orphaned, abandoned and given children. Chapter VIII of the Juvenile Justice (Welfare and Protection of Children) Act of 2015 deals with adoption in this category of children.
Article 58 of this Act defines that any Indian citizen, regardless of their religion, if they are interested in adopting an orphaned or abandoned or surrendered child, can apply to a specialized adoption agency in the manner provided in the adoption regulations framed by the Authority.
Article 57 of this Act regulates the eligibility of future adoptive parents. According to this article, adoptive parents must be physically fit, financially healthy, mentally alert, and highly motivated to adopt a child for providing a best upbringing to him/her and both partners must have consent for the adoption. A single or divorced person can also adopt under the terms of the adoption regulations drawn up by the agency, but a single man cannot adopt a girl.
MEASURES FOR REDUCING CHILD TRAFFICKING
Promote the spread of education
India has the largest education system in the world, but still has low literacy rate due to poor enrolment and high dropout rates – resulting in people having low self-esteem and opportunities. Educated children and their families are much more aware, more attentive and more mature and have a fairly good understanding of the risks of child trafficking. Uneducated parents are easy prey as they easily believe in fake promises by conmen of providing them a better life in the city. Thus it is a very common way of trafficking. There should be Understanding & compassionate teachers to guide children and parents for finding opportunities for their higher growth and employment and creating a community driven by ambition where traffickers cannot thrive.
Strict laws in place to prevent child trafficking
Effective laws development is essential to the reform of NGOs such as save the Children. These continuous researches, record show the results of the need for reform, and cooperate with various government agencies to urge them to develop better legislation to solve the problem. Sexual crimes dealt with under the recent Child Protection Act (2012) and the Prevention of Illegal Trafficking in Persons Act has successfully led to an increase in the number of convictions, which shows how legislation restricts child trafficking.
Encouraging business to not use child labor
As the demand for child labor in retail, hotels and other industries is widely used, therefore the child trafficking ecosystem is increasing. Thus it is very important to strict the laws for child labor so that the graph of child exploitation get decreased.
By become a guide to young children or to anyone who is in need. Traffickers often look people who are going through a tough time or who doesn’t have anyone who can support them. As a guide, you can consult them about their difficulties and help them to face it.
One can use their social media platforms to raise awareness about human trafficking, using the following hashtags: #endtrafficking, #freedomfirst.
States should make sure that response plans to COVID-19 include gender sensitive and age suitable measures to defend children from abuse and neglect.
Child protection services should be taken into considered a crucial service which must be adequately resourced.
States must make the internet accessible to everyone.
Civil society groups and social service agencies must continue to support vulnerable children who may be recruited and exploited by criminal gangs
State should encourage technology companies to ensure that children are safe online, and provide free child helplines and safe education services.
States should educate the media, online platforms and parents about linear exploitation and sexual abuse and how to protect the most vulnerable groups from the outreach of sex offenders.
Child trafficking is the end result of the failure of our societies and economies. The time has come for the authorities and society to unite and make sure to give up child trafficking, for the extra top of our youngsters.
Extra strict legal guidelines are wanted in order that authorities ought to be "extra vigilant on social media'' and make sure "children do not fall prey to trafficking”.
The recommendations ought to be issued to adopt the mapping workout below the Integrated Child Protection Scheme. Such recognized children ought to additionally be connected with the diverse offerings initiated via way of means of each critical in addition to nation authorities. Communities must look out for each other, support each other and report suspicious activities.
Name – Aditya Dwivedi
College Name - Indore Institute Of Law