Child Welfare Committee reconstitution evokes criticism

Most members lack qualifications stipulated for the best child care

June 24, 2022 10:45 pm | Updated 10:46 pm IST - MALAPPURAM

The recent appointment of Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members in different districts, particularly Malappuram, has evoked criticism for multiple reasons, including political favouritism.

While most appointments were made on the basis of the candidates’ political affiliation to the ruling party, what evoked the sharpest criticism was the violation of rules in the appointments. Most CWC members appointed on June 16 did not have the qualifications stipulated for the best child care.

In Malappuram, for instance, none of the five CWC members, including Chairperson A. Suresh, has the stipulated seven-year experience in a child-related field. “It is ridiculous, and a clear violation of law. It is against the spirit of the Juvenile Justice [Care and Protection of Children] Act, 2015,” said J. Sandhya, former member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

Without going on record, several persons and agencies working in the field of childcare expressed concern over the political appoints in the CWC. They also raised concern at the casual manner in which members were chosen.

In Malappuram, while three members are lawyers, the remaining two are teachers. “The spirit of the law in having a five-member body is to include the experience and expertise of people from different fields, including law, education, psychology, and sociology. The body should be multi-disciplinary not only in constitution but in its outlook and approach as well,” pointed out a former CWC member, requesting anonymity.

Social workers functioning among children in Malappuram, the most populated district in the State, said the predominance of lawyers in the CWC would deprive the body of its child-friendly character. “Lawyers will deal with children from the legal point of view only. But what we want is a body that can rise above legal hurdles and take a child-friendly stand,” said the former CWC member.

According to Ms. Sandhya, the State was failing its children by weakening the mechanism meant to help children. “CWC members are supposed to work at the ground level. Their lack of qualification is partly responsible for the rise in child rights violations in the State,” said Ms. Sandhya.

Several members of the reconstituted CWCs had been rejected in the first round because of their lack of qualification. However, when the notification of the new appointments was issued, they found a place in the bodies solely because of their political affiliation.

“It is blatant favouritism and clear violation of rules,” said P.E. Usha, former manager of Nirbhaya programme.

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