Collector Anshul Mishra, on Tuesday, urged teachers and social welfare workers to focus on protecting the rights of children. He also requested parents to keep a sharp eye on their wards and keep track of them to prevent any untoward incident.
He was addressing a meeting on child rights, prevention of child marriages, child sexual abuse and child labour organised by the Department of Social Welfare here on Tuesday. Speaking to a gathering of non-governmental organisations (NGO), panchayat officials, health workers and police officers, he said that they must treat all children as their own. He called for conducting awareness programmes to sensitise the public on various aspects of child sexual abuse, to check whether their wards were facing it in any manner and on how to prevent such occurrences.
Later in the programme, detailed presentations were given on various aspects of this topic by organisations working in this sector. Giving a presentation on preventing child sexual abuse and child marriages, Nancy of Thulir NGO, Chennai, said that child sexual abuse was an important problem in India as 42 per cent of its population or 42 crore persons were below the age of 18.
A Central government study conducted in 2007 found that of the 3,000-odd children covered, 53 per cent had suffered some form of child sexual abuse or other. She noted that the tragic Sarika Shah eve-teasing incident in which the victim, a college girl, died following harassment, led to the enactment of Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, making Tamil Nadu the only State to have a separate Act on this subject.
While harassment of women in public places captured the majority of attention, abuse by people known to the victim at homes, schools and workplaces remained veiled despite the such occurrences being widespread. Both boys and girls were victims of abuse.
Ms. Nancy also frowned upon the choice of words used by the media while reporting on such incidents as sometimes it led to focus falling on the victim rather than the perpetrator. The Collector also expressed similar views and urged the media to exercise caution, keeping in mind welfare of the victim.
Later, Sakthi Vidiyal NGO, Madurai, gave a presentation on child rights and prevention of child labour. Officials from the Social Welfare Department elaborated on Juvenile Justice Protection, 2006. District Social Welfare Officer M. Jeyalakshmi spoke.
Later in the day, a meeting against dowry system was also held by the Social Welfare Department. Lawyers explained the various provisions of Prevention of Dowry Act, 1961; Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2005; Prevention of Child Marriages Act, 2006; and Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007; besides how to access free legal advice.
Earlier, Mr. Mishra flagged off a rally from Tamukkam Grounds to create an awareness of abolishing child labour. He said that employing children under 14 years as workers would fetch an year of prison and Rs.20,000 in fine. He also inaugurated a signature campaign at Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand to mark Anti-Child Labour Day.
Students from several schools in the city took part in the event. The rally culminated at the Collectorate. Chief Educational Officer S. Nagaraja Murugan was present.
Keywords: child sexual abuse