The South Asia follow up on regional consultation on the UN study on violence against children started in Colombo yesterday. It was inaugurated by Mr. Tissa Karalliyadha, Minister for Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka. Leaders from many SAARC countries are attending the meet.
In his inaugural speech, the Minister drew attention to the alarming statistics facing the SAARC countries in matters of violence against children, who face abuse, discrimination and violence in their homes, schools, work places and various other forms.
During the inaugural addresses, the leaders and representatives from SAARC countries reiterated that this regional consultation presented an opportunity to deliberate and discuss on the steps taken since the 2005 meet and to collectively pool in the wisdom from the countries to derive concrete and measureable targets for the future. Representatives from governments of SAARC countries, experts on child rights and violence against children, professionals, academicians, NGOs from SAARC countries are attending this regional consultation. The aim is to devise policy measures to eliminate violence in all forms against children such as corporal violence, child marriage, child trafficking, child labour, child sexual and physical abuse. The leaders were unanimous in their observation that the social and economic cost of ignoring this phenomenon is significantly too high to be ignored by any government today.
The consultation is being organized by SAIEVAC, the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children, an apex body of SAARC. SAIEVAC released reports on the status of corporal punishment in SAARC countries. It also launched the campaign against corporal punishment. An exhibition of posters made by children depicting forms of violence was also put up. Representatives from governments of eight SAARC member countries are present for this meet. The Indian delegation led by Dr. Vivek Joshi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development is also attending the regional consultation.
Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Bill, 2012 of India Evokes Interest in SAARC Members
The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2012 of India evoked substantial interest among the participants during the second day of the SAIEVAC follow up on regional consultation on the UN study on violence against children, being held here from 26-31 May
The India country presentation made by the head of the Indian delegation, Dr. Vivek Joshi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development presented an overview of the current situation of violence against children in family, household and work situations. It highlighted the initiatives taken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India, to curb and eliminate violence in all forms against children in various settings. It outlined the legislative and programmative framework designed by the Ministry including the steps taken by the national and state governments to prevent child marriage. He also narrated examples taken by some state governments prevent child marriages. He elaborated on initiatives such as the conditional cash transfer schemes of many state governments, and the SABLA scheme of the Government of India which has several components to empower the adolescent girls. The Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of WCD ministry for children in vulnerable conditions through measures such as Childline and open shelters for children, and initiatives taken for adoption of children such as CARINGS web-based child adoption resource information and guidance system were also discussed.
The India presentation highlighted features of the steps taken for curbing violence against street and working children through measures to extend care, support and rehabilitation including health services and skills development among these children. The focused attention of the Government of India to addressing the menace of trafficking of young children including boys and girls has led to including various provisions within the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2012 to protect children from such malpractices, Dr. Joshi stated. He noted that Anti-Human Trafficking Units (ATHUs) have been established and are operational in 335 vulnerable districts in the country. The Ujjawala scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development has been designed to address this menace, he added. In addition to this, the JJ Act, 2000 has been amended in 2006 and 2011 to make it more potent to prevent violence among children. Violence among children in schools is addressed by several guidelines issued by CBSE and NCPCR, in addition to the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, Dr. Joshi said.
Dr. Vivek Joshi was also the co-chair for the first day of technical consultations. In keeping with tradition of SAIEVAC, Secretary, Ministry of Child Development and Women’s Affairs, Government of Sri Lanka, Mrs. Sumithra Rahubaddhe was the chairperson. Country representatives from all SARRC countries made presentations on the measures and initiatives taken by their governments to eliminate violence against children in their countries. In an engaging discussion that followed, the assembled members shared their experiences from the field from these countries. They contrasted and compared the common and distinctive features in the country legislations and the issues faced during implementation of many measures.
The regional follow up consultations are being organized by SAIEVAC, the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children, an apex body of SAARC.