The Indian CircusCircus has long been a source of traditional entertainment. We were excited to see clowns, animals, and kids performing stunts as children. The happy faces we see are masking a lot of pain. They are subjected to harassment, exploitation, and physical and verbal abuse because they have been forced to work so young. The circus owners force these children to live a life of frustration and exhaustion. This article discusses the legal situation for children who work in circuses.
The following is a brief introduction to the topic:
The word circus comes from a Latin term that means a round or oval room with seats where performers perform. After the ban on the use of children and wild animals, the circus industry has undergone a drastic change. These children are trapped in a vicious cycle of brutality, especially in India, where poverty is rife. Although laws were drafted to protect children from exploitation, implementing these laws is a concern. Non-governmental organizations are responsible for the success of lawmaking to combat these abuses. They have done this by constantly filing petitions. There are only a dozen or so circus companies left in India that have worked tirelessly to preserve the tradition.
Before 2011, many children were working in circuses.
In the case of Bachpan Bachao Andolan Vs. Union of India , the government banned the employment of children under 14 years old in CircusCircus. According to the petitioner, the children were severely abused, and some were detained forcibly. They were sometimes kept away from their family under fierce conditions. There were also cases of verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. Sometimes, these children were deprived of necessities such as food and water. These children came from poor areas and were often trafficked for circus performances. The children were not allowed to move around and had limited choices.
There were many examples of sexual abuse among the female workers. In Madhya Pradesh, 18 girls from a circus were rescued in 1996. The children were abused during training, and managers would use them when they complained about inadequate food or other conditions. There were no laws governing labor rights and welfare to protect them. It was shocking that no legislation with sufficient powers to take action against child trafficking in this country. The police department and the Labour Department were not prepared to take action against the trafficking of girls from other countries, particularly Nepal.
In the case of N.R. In the case of N.R. In this case, it was only allowed to use animals such as bears, monkeys, and tigers. Animals were banned from circuses after this ruling. The conditions of abuse towards children are not any less. Research revealed that most circuses shared similar living conditions. There were separate tents for boys and girls. Five to ten kids were packed into one tent, causing a lack of space. The food they were given needed to be more to satisfy their appetite. In addition to all of this, there was the issue of poor sanitation and inadequate healthcare.
Children’s rights are being violated.
The activities being carried out behind closed doors violated both the Juvenile Justice Act and the International Human and Child Rights Treaties and Conventions India signed. The detailed report includes violations of rights which are:
- Constitutional Rights The employment of circus children violates fundamental rights such as Article 21 . Right to Life and Personal Freedom, Article 21-A (i.e., Right to Free and Compulsory Education, and Article 23 , which deals with the Prohibition of Beggars as stated in Part 3 Indian Constitution.
- The existing labor laws, as well as the legitimacy of contracts, were also considered.
- The Child Labour Act of 1986 included guidelines in Section 7  about the employment of children who were not working under the conditions required. Section 8 also states that children will receive a holiday every week. Section 12  contains health and safety regulations that must be adhered to as children work on dangerous objects.
- The United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child – According to Article 3 of the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, the state must provide the protection and care necessary for the child’s well-being. Article 6 focuses on the development and survival of children, while Article 9 instructs not to separate parents from their children against their wishes. In Article 11, it is stated that the state parties are required to take appropriate measures to combat illicit transfers and non-return of children abroad. According to Articles 13 and 19, children should be protected from violence by their right to freedom of expression.
- Juvenile Justice Act – The 2006 Amendment of The Juvenile Justice Act was a special legislation that defined children as persons up to 18.
Before 2011, none of these rights had been implemented in the Indian context.
Release of Guidelines
In 2011, the Supreme Court of India, in the landmark case of Bachpan Bachao Andolan V. Union of India , issued guidelines banning the employment of circuses. To enforce the Article 21A of India’s Constitution, the Union Government issued instructions to issue suitable notifications prohibiting the work of circus children within two months of the order date. It was also said that raids would be conducted simultaneously at all circuses to liberate these children. A check must be made on the implementation of their fundamental rights. Children rescued from the streets must remain in Care and Protection Homes until they turn 18. After proper verification, if the parents were willing to return the children to their homes, officials were instructed to do so. The officials were asked to create an appropriate rehabilitation scheme for the children rescued from circuses. The Secretary of the Ministry of Human Resources Development and the Department of Women and Child Development was directed to submit a comprehensive affidavit of conformity within ten weeks. According to the Justice Dalveer Bhandari-led bench, over one-third of India’s population is under 18. As the country’s future, we need to protect and educate these children for the country’s development. The bench also highlighted the increasing trafficking of women and children, which is a reason for urgently drafting laws.
The conclusion of the article is:
The circus industry has declined after the decision to ban animals and children. These children, who live in a country with extreme poverty, must toil daily to make ends meet. Most of the time, these children were brought from other countries, such as Nepal, to be forced to work in this country. They were subjected to daily physical and verbal abuse. They did not have access to the bare necessities. The majority of girls had been sexually abused. The ban on using children was a significant factor in all of these. The decision was widely celebrated across the country. The laws were not taken seriously for an extended period, and violations were seen. Circus owners used children to their benefit. With time, laws were implemented that ended this practice. Now, the circus industry is about to end.