Manjula Munavalli will speak on child abuse at the 66th pre-sessional working group on the UNCRC

Seventeen-year-old Manjula M. Munavalli from Ramapura in Dharwad taluk has turned a celebrity of sorts overnight ever since she was shortlisted to participate in the 66th pre-sessional working group on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in Geneva in Switzerland next week.

During a felicitation programme organised by the Karnataka State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights in Bangalore on Thursday, Manjula was busy posing for photographs and discussing issues that she would address at the convention. Amidst the preparations she is making for trip abroad, she is hopping across cities to attend various felicitation programmes.

She hails from a family of agriculturalists and is the daughter of Mahantesh and Mahadevi. Ask her about what she thinks is India’s most pressing child rights issue, she says, “Child sexual abuse is a major problem in India. Several sexual crimes against children go unnoticed. I will speak about it in great detail at the conference.”

She also pointed out that she was “troubled” by the “poor condition” of the State’s orphanages and added that there is need to improve the basic amenities there. A first-year student at the RLS PU College in Dharwad, she has been an advocate of child rights for the past six years with the Karnataka Integrated Development Society (KIDS), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) working with children. Asked how she got into this field, she says, “In school I was always a rebel and would question what was taught to us. After the NGO conducted a workshop for us in school, I got involved in their programmes.”

Manjula is also a member of ‘Gubbacchi Goodu Makkala Mahasangha’, a group of various child rights associations. At her village, Manjulaachieved success in raising their voices and making sure that the gram panchayat constructed roads and provided regular supply of water to the residents of the village.

Excited about her first trip abroad, Manjula said, “We will be free for two days and I will make sure that I see all the places in Switzerland as I have heard a lot about it.”

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