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Project Muskaan

Child Abandonment: A persistent issue in India

By June 5, 2022No Comments

Child abandonment occurs when a child is unintentionally (by death) or knowingly (via relinquishment of parental duty) left behind by his or her parents. India has 29.6 million orphaned and abandoned children, according to UNICEF. With the pandemic caused by Covid-19 increasing the number of abandoned children, there is a need to understand the core cause of its persistence, as well as how we may alleviate and prevent child abandonment.

The most common cause for a parent to willfully abandon their child is financial troubles and pressures. It is difficult for a family to imagine a future with their children when over 81 percent of the population works in the informal sector, where there is no social protection, job security, inadequate earnings, and horrible working conditions. Raising a child is also more expensive when the parents come from a socially prejudiced and underprivileged group. The pressure on mothers in socially conservative families to ‘provide’ a son as a responsibility is another cause of child abandonment. Women are forced to choose between giving up their daughter or leaving the family with the infant. “Nine out of ten of India’s 11 million abandoned children were girls,” according to the Times of India. Patriarchal attitudes that girls are a burden on the family motivate their parents to go to such lengths to conform to societal conventions. In India, this has resulted in a skewed sex ratio of 914 females to 1000 males.

The youngsters who have been abandoned have nowhere to go. While there are institutional frameworks in place to safeguard both mothers and their children, such as Bharosa Centres, relatively few of them are truly operational. According to a report from the Childline India Foundation (CIF), which was funded by the Women and Child Development Ministry, “just 470,000 children were under institutionalised care in 2017.” Because adoption rates in India are abysmally low, just a few of these about half-a-million youngsters find their way into family care.” Multiple vulnerabilities in the government’s institutional frameworks, including as corruption, red tape, and a lack of long-term solutions, ensure that children continue to be mistreated and neglected. When will India be able to rely on miracles to rescue these children?

Abandonment of children is a danger that haunts them as trauma for the rest of their lives. The system needs to be revamped to relieve them of their tension. Institutions at the federal level must be proactive. Strict adherence to the rules is required. Furthermore, social awareness about abortions, gender equality, and adoption must be promoted and de-stigmatized. For this to happen, collaboration between child welfare organisations and regional administration is required. Every child has the right to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. We must ensure that abandoned children are given the opportunity to grow and flourish in life, just like other children.