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Updated: September 26, 2012 11:06 IST

‘Child rights awareness needed at grass-roots’

Raghava M.
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Vasudeva Sharma. Photo: R. Eswarraj
The Hindu
Vasudeva Sharma. Photo: R. Eswarraj

Vasudeva Sharma says there is influx of job-seeking children

Vasudeva Sharma, Executive Director of Child Rights Trust, has been involved in activities related to safeguarding child rights for over a decade. Mr. Sharma is the former Chairperson of the Bangalore Child Welfare Committee besides being a member of the Karnataka Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Mr. Sharma was in the city to speak on child rights at a seminar on “Human Rights Advocacy: An avenue for social change” on Tuesday. Mr. Sharma spoke to The Hindu on issues concerning child rights.

How do you rate Dakshina Kannada in terms of protection of child rights?

From the information that I have gathered, the situation in Dakshina Kannada is not much different from the rest of the districts. The proportion of enrolment of children in schools here is low. There is an influx of children from other States seeking jobs. There is a need for the Education Department to work with the Labour Department in identifying cases of child labour. The Child Help Line has resumed functioning in Mangalore since last week.

What needs to be done for child rights protection?

Today’s children are growing with lot of awareness. We need to consider them as citizens and address their problems and issues. Child rights protection will be effective if it is done at the panchayat level by involving the panchayat members, anganwadi workers, and auxiliary nurses and midwives. This will bring down problems of children to a great extent.

How do you see the level of awareness about child rights among people?

Despite campaigns and articles in newspapers, there is still lack of awareness about the rights of a child. We have not been able to reach out to the common man. Members of Child Welfare Committee, Juvenile Justice Board, and organisations involved in the protection of child rights should reach out to citizens at the grassroots level. This can happen when there is a better interaction in programmes such as the one I am attending today. At least students attending the programme will be made aware of the rights of children. This will help in spreading the message across.

Have Child Welfare Centre and Juvenile Justice Board served the purpose for which they are constituted?

While the two have been dealing with issues concerning children, the working will be far more effective if there is convergence of the two institutions with police, labour, women and child welfare departments and non-governmental organisations. This network will help in getting the relief needed for the child more quickly. It is this network that helped us in Bangalore in placing rescued children from different parts of the country to their respective homes faster. The CWC should pay frequent visits to Boys Home, Girls Home, Destitute Cottages and orphanages and check about violations.

Lack of facilities for the Chairman and members of Karnataka Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been an issue…

Facilities are better for chairperson now following directions by the Karnataka High Court. But the members continue to get only sitting fees, which does not match the work they do. The Commission members, who have been working full time, have been barred from getting income from any other sources. Members cannot sustain only on the sitting fees. Each member needs at least two secretarial staff for preparing reports. The members should be allowed to specialise in different areas of child rights.

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