oppn parties Hugging A Child Without Consent Is Not Playfulness

News Snippets

  • In reply to a question in Parliament, the government says it is empowered to lawfully intercept, monitor or decrpyt information stored in a computer resource in the interest of sovereignty or integrity of India
  • Police stop a 12-year old girl on her way to the Sabarimala shrine
  • In Karnataka, the JD(S) indicates that it might support the BJP government if it falls short of numbers after the bypolls
  • Congress pips the BJP in local body elections in Rajasthan, winning 961 wards to the BJPs 737
  • After Airtel and Vodafone-Idea, Jio also indicates that tariffs will be raised from December
  • Sources in Shiv Sena say that they might revive the alliance with the BJP if it offers the 50:50 deal
  • A miffed Sanjay Rout of the Shiv Sena says that it will take "100 births" to understand Sharad Pawar
  • Mobile operators Vodafone-Idea and Airtel decide to raise tariffs from next month
  • Sharad Pawar meets Sonia Gandhi and says more time needed for government formation in Maharashtra
  • Justice S A Bobde sworn in as the 47th Chief Justice of India
  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
Two Muslim litigants in Ayodhya refuse to accept the Supreme Court order, say review petition might be filed
oppn parties
Hugging A Child Without Consent Is Not Playfulness

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
What started out as a playful interaction on a dance reality show on television has turned into a raging debate on consent, child rights and social manners. The dramatis personae involved were Salman Khan, Jacqueline Fernandes and a child participant aged around 11/12 years. Salman asked the boy to give a hug to Jacqueline but he refused. Then, Salman accompanied Jacqueline on the stage and made the boy hug her, much to his discomfort. Jacqueline also rubbed her tummy against his bum later on. Social media did not take kindly to the act with commentators asking questions about consent and child rights.

Is it right to force/persuade a child to hug someone against her/his wishes? Is consent limited to adults? Does a child have rights over her/his body which adults should respect? Were Salman and Jacqueline ignoring socially acceptable behavior in their effort to spice up things on the show and got carried away? While the last question can be answered in the positive, there are no easy answers to the first three. Obviously a child is as much entitled to guard her/his privacy as an adult and no one, including parents, should force/persuade a child to do something out of the ordinary which she/he is unwilling to do. Legally speaking, Article 14 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of The Child (UNCRC), to which India is a signatory, recognizes the right to thought and conscience for every child. Article 16 of the UNCRC gives the child right to privacy. Both these rights were violated in the above case.

We do not think twice before cuddling, hugging or otherwise touching a child’s body. Most of the time, this is done with affection and without any bad intention. But if the child is above, say, 8 years of age (this is a random figure, others may put it even lower), the display of affection must be made with extreme care and must never be repeated if the child objects the first time. It does not matter how friendly or closely related one is with the child. Her/his consent is necessary to touch her/him. Repeated touching without her/his consent can border on criminal offence under POCSO Act.

Leaving aside the legal angle, if a child is forced/persuaded or otherwise made to do something which he does not like, like hugging Jacqueline for instance, it might scar her/his mind and makes her/him trust adults even lesser. A child’s relationship with adults is based on a large part on trust. Since a child is not able to take certain decisions on her/his own, she/he trusts adults to make these decisions on her/his behalf and she/he follows them blindly due to that trust. If the child is distressed by following any of these decisions taken by adults, she/he will stop trusting those adults. It might even leave a permanent scar if the act is very hateful to her/him. Hence, adults need to be more careful when interacting with children above a certain age. What was playfulness for Salman and Jacqueline could have been devastating for the child.

watch the video here