Madurai

Child protection committees dysfunctional in Madurai

The committees are supposed to monitor, report and respond to issues of child protection.   | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

The block and village-level child protection committees, which were formed under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in 2009 to prevent crimes against children, like the recent case of female infanticide in Sholavandan, are dysfunctional in Madurai district.

The committees are supposed to monitor, report and respond to issues of child protection. They must meet once every quarter to discuss problems children face and create awareness of child welfare schemes. Village Administrative Officers and Block Development Officers (BDO) acknowledge that the committees barely meet once a year.

According to the ICPS guidelines, village-level committees must be headed by the panchayat president. They could also include two child representatives, a member of District Child Protection Unit (DCPU), anganwadi workers, school teachers, auxiliary nurse midwives and residents with good standing.

Block-level committees must be led by block or ward-level elected representative. BDOs must play the role of member-secretary. There must be representatives from education and health sectors.

The committees must prevent child marriages, eliminate trafficking, eradicate begging and labour and prevent students from dropping out of schools.

Sources say the meetings have not taken place in years at all 420 village panchayats and 13 blocks. The meetings are to be held in tandem with special gram sabha meetings every year. Child rights issues never figure in the agenda. Exclusive meetings to discuss child protection were never conducted.

Tamil Nadu Village Administrative Officers’ Welfare Association president G. Suresh says, “Though the committee members never meet, when we hear of child abuse or child marriage, we are the first persons to report the issue to ChildLine.”

Child Welfare Committee member B. Pandiaraja says the village-level committees require funding so that they could create innovative awareness campaigns.

Child rights activist C. Jim Jesudoss says that to ensure that the committees met, a sense of ownership must be transferred to the committee members and villagers.

Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department Secretary, S. Madhumathi says that block-level officers are usually active. “Awareness activities have been deterred across Tamil Nadu due to COVID-19 but we are trying to encourage officials to continue playing an active role. Committees will be functional post-pandemic,” she says.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 12:23:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/child-protection-committees-dysfunctional-in-madurai/article31648036.ece

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