NCPCR’S Foundation Day: four Years of Upholding Child Rights

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EQUALITY INDIA NEWS / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights was set up on March 5 2007, consequent to the Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights Act, 2005 primarily to monitor the rights that have been guaranteed to the children in the Constitution of India, such as equality before law, free and compulsory education to all children in the six to fourteen years, prohibition of trafficking and forced labour, prohibition of child labour and so on. The rights based perspective under the Act in itself gives a new hope to a nation of 440 million children, a large number of who are deprived, malnourished; do not have access to education and other rights. Many of them have been pushed into the labour force and others migrate or are trafficked.

The Commission’s initiatives range from monitoring the implementation of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, , child labour, child trafficking etc. Substantial work has been done in protecting children from sexual offences, reforming the juvenile justice system and caring for children affected by civil unrest. Child malnutrition and care of young ones infected and affected by HIV and AIDS have been areas of concern. Issuing of policy guidelines and advocacy on banning of corporal punishment is another important initiative of NCPCR .All forms of violence, mental, emotional and/ or physical, causing insult and injury is regarded as corporal punishment. A child friendly ‘Children’s Bill of Rights’ has been incorporated in the Class VII NCERT text books.

In its policy recommendations for amending the Child Labour (Prohibiton and Regulation) Act, 1986 the Commission reiterated that child labour should include all forms of labour — wage or non-wage, whether working for employer, within families, in agriculture or allied activities. It emphasized that the child labour ban should include children up to 18 years. Special intervention was made for children affected by civil unrest and displacement. The Commission examined the predicament of children areas of civil unrest in parts of Chhattisgarh, in the North Cachar Hills, Chirang and New Bongaigaon districts in Assam, in Ashapara and Naisingpur camps at Kanchanpur in North Tripura District in Tripura, in Kandhamal in Orissa and in the Kashmir Valley. Recommendations have been made to the Home Ministry and the Ministry for Women and Child and Development to draw up civil unrest-specific protocols to safeguard the interests of children.

In five of the civil unrest affected states of Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra, a pilot Bal Bandhu Scheme has been initiated with support from the Prime Minister’s Office. Local youth or Bal Bandhus, after training will mobilize the community and the gram panchayats to participate in tracking all their children and seeing that they are in schools, anganwadi centres and have access to all their entitlements. The Commission has decided to mark the Foundation Day of the National Commission of Child Rights and renew its pledge for child rights. The Minister for Women and Child Development, Mrs Krishna Tirath, will be the Chief Guest at the Foundation Day function to be held at Vigyan Bhavan. Well known actor and Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, Sharmila Tagore, and Secretary, Women and Child Development, D K Sikri will be the Guests of Honour. The Foundation Day address will be delivered by Professor Shekhar P. Seshadri from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), and officials involved in various aspects of child protection and care as well as activists on child rights will participate in the function.

This is the second term of the Commission headed by Dr Shantha Sinha, a champion of child rights who received the Magsaysay award for pulling children out of the labour force and putting them in schools.

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