Protect children from the fallout of Covid-19| Opinion

Lalita Panicker - Hindustan Times

In this opinion piece for the Hindustan Times, Lalita Panicker calls for the inclusion of children’s rights and security as a fundamental pillar in India's response to the COVID-19 pandemic and efforts to reopen the economy, noting that "there are several things the government can do, including strengthening systems to find family members of children orphaned or stranded as a result of the virus. That should be the first option before considering moving children to a State-run facility."

Panicker writes that the pandemic will leave behind orphans in India and that it will leave children vulnerable to exploitation, violence, and loss of education. "Children without parental support will not be able to fend off the virus, as many will be unable to observe physical distancing or access clean water and soap for hand-washing," the author continues. "They are not likely to even be aware of safe practices. If they are moved to State-run homes, in the absence of adult caregivers, it is unlikely that in these crowded places they will be safe from exploitation or from the disease. Several United Nations studies have shown that children in institutional care suffer from various health and cognitive function issues. Indian care homes are unsafe and poorly staffed at the best of times. This needs to be addressed as a challenge brought to light by Covid-19."