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Parties urged to include children’s issues in manifestoes

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
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On behalf of the children of Delhi, several child rights groups have urged major political parties to include and accord high priority to strengthening child protection systems and services as part of their election campaign and development agenda for Delhi and to include the issue in their manifesto as well.

The Core Group members of Delhi Childs Rights Group, comprising a group of NGOs and individuals, met the Aam Aadmi Party leadership on Monday and have lined up meetings with leaders of the Congress and the BJP in this week to raise the issue of according high importance to child rights in the manifesto of all these parties.

The Core Group includes Anisha Ghosh of Haq Centre for Child Rights, Bharti Sharma, former chairperson of Child Welfare Committee, Debendra Kumar Baral of Bal Vikas Dhara, Kishore of CACL, Delhi Trust; Raj Mangal Prasad of Pratidhi, Sanjeev Sheel of Anchal Charitable and Nocole Menezes of Lehar.

In their representation to the main political parties contesting the Assembly elections, the Group has urged that the need to strengthen child protection services and systems be included in the election campaign and development agenda for Delhi.

Referring to the increasing number of cases of abuse and violence against children coming to light in Delhi, it said, “the issue has also received attention by the media, yet the daily reports of fresh cases of sexual assault, physical abuse and exploitation of children tell us that it is an issue that needs urgent, serious consideration and action from the government and civil society”.

The DCRG has noted with concern that while some cases of sexual assault on minor children had come into media limelight recently, “it is also believed that there are thousands of children who suffer abuse and exploitation which goes unreported”.

This, it said, necessitated bringing public attention and priority to the issue.

Mr. Prasad of Pratidhi said the main demands of the group include implementation of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2000 (JJA) and the Protection of Children from Child Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO) by strengthening the infrastructure and providing skilled human resources.

“The functioning of the police and courts too are a major impediment in obtaining justice for children. The Delhi Government has since 2009 been implementing the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) which provides financial support to structures, services and awareness for child protection but the scheme is still not fully functional. Child labour, especially domestic child labour, is rampant and very visible in all parts of Delhi despite the 2006 notifications under the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act, 1986,” he lamented.

The group has stated that despite a large number of children suffering due to inadequacies in laws and their implementation, child protection and other children’s issues have yet to become part of the agenda of political parties.

Thus, it has on behalf of the children urged all the political parties to “make Delhi a safe place for children and ensure all laws for children are implemented in the right spirit to ensure children’s protection”.

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