Encourage children to convey their problems: Shantha Sinha

No State should make a distinction between native children and migrants in protecting child rights, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Chairperson Shantha Sinha said here on Sunday.

Delivering the keynote address at a seminar on ‘Overall picture of children in Kerala: emerging issues and challenges,' organised by the Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society, Ms. Sinha said every State had the responsibility to protect the rights and interests of migrant children also.

“We are not citizens of a State but of this country. All States should proactively intervene to ensure the welfare of children. This also includes taking appropriate measures to repatriate migrant children,” she said.

Protection of child rights should not be a debatable issue and that authorities must take an uncompromising stance to ensure their protection, she said.

Speaking on the issue of child abuse by tourists and exploitation of children at tourist destinations, Ms. Sinha said the issue had come to the notice of the Commission. The Commission would communicate its concerns to the authorities concerned.

“We have proposed the enactment of a Bill on prevention of offences against children. The issue of child abuse and exploitation with respect to tourism in Kerala has come to our notice and we are here to find out what the Kerala government can do in this regard. The support of other organisations working in the field will also be sought. We will hold discussions with the Police, Tourism, Education and Social Welfare Departments,” she said.

“Children's rights are violated in the name of tradition and culture in the country. Children remain silent about abuses even to their parents. The system does not encourage children to convey their problems appropriately. We have to create an atmosphere where children feel that their voices will be heard. Children subjected to abuse or exploitation should know that they have done no wrong,” Ms. Sinha said.

The Child Labour (Protection and Regulation) Act should be amended. The clause which differentiates hazardous and non-hazardous occupations should be taken out so that children up to 14 years of age do no work, she said.

“The Right to Education Act makes education a right. The Commission has been arguing for a total ban on child labour,” she said.

Ms. Sinha said she hoped the State will soon set up a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights as per the NCPCR Act. Kerala Mahila Samakhya Society State project director Seema Bhaskar, child rights activist Narayanan and NCPCR Registrar B.K. Sahu also spoke. Representatives of various NGOs participated.

Keywords: child rights