Strive to protect rights of children
By Ramya Kannan
CHENNAI, OCT. 13. Looking at the local bodies elections as an opportunity to step up the momentum of the child rights crusade, activists in the State have released a `Child Rights Manifesto' to all candidates.
Alleging that rights violations against children have been increasing, the manifesto has been released by the Campaign Against Child Labour-TN, to the 30,000 contestants. ``We have requested them to speak on issues relating to children and take an oath during their campaign to fulfill these promises'', Mr. Thomas Jayaraj, convenor, said.
The situation of most of the two crore children in Tamil Nadu was deteriorating daily, the campaigners alleged. Statistics showed that 6,30,000 children within 6-14 years had no access to education and an estimated 20 lakh drop out of school midway. The pass percentage is only 40 in the primary section due to poor quality of education, the CACL members said.
Conservative statistics put the number of children involved in labour including hazardous industries at 30 lakhs. In addition to this, an unestimated number of children were involved in begging, prostitution and bonded labour. Another three lakh were living on the streets.
In this context there was a pressing need to address issues relating to children and administrators would have to take cognizance of these factors. Remedial measures should be initiated at the local body level, according to the campaigners.
The primary demand placed before the contestants is that decisions taken at their level should not be inimical to the welfare of children. Monitoring bodies should be formed to prevent infanticide and foeticide and adequate powers granted to them to act as per the Pre Natal Diagnostic Technologies Act. The local body records must preserve details regarding births and deaths, the manifesto demands.
Mr. Ossie Fernandes, Convenor, Tamil Nadu Child Rights Protection Network, said the manifesto included an appeal to provide proper nutritional supplements to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children upto 6 years. All children must be provided access to quality education and bring down dropout rate.
The manifesto also called for a commitment on stopping trafficking, sexual abuse, bonded labour of children. Special attention should be paid to SC/ST, Dalit and disabled children and girls.
The network consists of groups such as CACL-TN, TN-Forces, TN-NGO Forum, CASSA, TAFRE, TN Child Rights Protection Network and TNPFSD, who have come together to urge political and administrative consent for a children-friendly policy.