Children of "Open Shelter", one of our projects on under privileged children
"Child labour and poverty is inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labour of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labour to the end of time." ------- Grace Abbott.
How true! Working under various projects to protect children's rights, over a decade, it has been disheartening to witness the violation of these rights, even after coming a long way armed with Acts like The Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, as amended in 2006, to consolidate and amend the law relating to juveniles in conflict with law and children in need of care and protection, by providing for proper care, protection and treatment by catering to their development needs and by adopting a child-friendly approach in the adjudication and disposition of matters in the best interest of children and for their ultimate rehabilitation through various institutions established under this enactment.
Pretty ones from our "Kalyani Nivas", a shelter home for girls.
Sadly, even today some people see children as mere property rather than as human beings. Many wars for children's rights have been fought and won in the past -- child labour laws protecting children from having to work long hours in unsafe conditions, public education allowing all children to have access to learning and laws preventing child abuse. But there is still much left to do in protecting children's rights. How many of us working in this field are really aware of adoption guidelines for abandoned, orphaned and surrendered children laid down by CARA(Central Adoption Resource Authority), under the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India? A recent case study revels how the lack of basic knowledge of adoption rules may lead to jeopardizing the rights of the child concerned. Only through legal adoption can an abandoned, orphaned or surrendered child become a legitimate child of the adoptive parents with all the rights, privileges and responsibilities attached to the relationship. And yet when a child is found abandoned, we remain a mute spectator while might prevails over right quite often! What meaning then has the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act?
Abandoned baby on railway tracks
Coming a long way, armed with legal provisions and resources, we still stumble at every bend and corner while protecting a child from social hazards. What we really need at the moment, in order to protect a child from child abuse and child labour is a society that is well aware of child rights. The frightening increase in child labour has prompted the Government to amend rules. But these amendments are meaningless unless we, the people, are aware of what is happening. Awareness camps must be carried out to sensitize people about adoption of abandoned children so that one is not at a loss when a baby is found abandoned. Not just the members of CWC (Child Welfare Committee) or SAA (Special Adoption Agency), but each citizen must be aware of their role in protecting the rights of a child. The Government must carry out more awareness programs, because safety and security do not just happen, we must collectively work towards it. Children are the most vulnerable section of the society and we owe them a much deserved life free of violence, fear, full of love and carefree happiness.
On the 122nd birth anniversary of Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru, while celebrating Children's Day, let us not forget those children who need our help, care and protection to survive, flourish and smile their happy smiles!
Our little ladies had so much fun on Children's Day, their smiles say it all ....