Kohima, May 15: Concerned over the increasing number of child abuse cases most of which remain unreported, the Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA) today held a day-long Awareness Programme on “Child Protection: Towards Collective Action” at NBCC Platinum Conference Hall here.
Addressing the gathering as the chief guest, Judge of Gauhati High Court, Justice Songkhupehung Serto said around 20% of the population in the country is between the age group of 17-18 years and they are very important group they comprise the future of the nation.
He lauded the efforts of NSLSA in bringing together the stakeholders to think together for the protection of the children.
Even as the Parliament has passed so many laws for the protection of children, the Justice reminded all the people of their responsibility towards protecting children from any form of abuse.
Justice Serto also released the NSLSA magazine entitled “Mega Legal Services camp: From awareness to empowerment”.
NSLSA member secretary, Mezivolu Therieh said that the NSLSA is committed towards children welfare and their protection under the National Legal Service Authority’s Child Friendly Legal Services to Children and their Protection) Scheme, 2015.
She claimed that maximum activities of the NSLSA are focused towards children and even with a mind that the development of our society can be achieved by the development of children and it is necessary to protect children from any kind of abuses or exploitation.
Home is supposed to be the safest place for a child but in the present society that scenario is changing and therefore the need to create awareness by all stakeholders, she said.
The various “child protection risk areas” includes child abuse, trafficking, child labour, missing children and various other distress situations children experience, she said, adding that the only way to prevent these abusive incidents is to continuously fight against such abuses and to protect the child from such abuses, we need to be aware about the rights of the child.
Expressing that child abuse in Nagaland seems to be growing at an alarming rate, she said that all the stakeholders need to work in tandem for the welfare and protection of the child.
“Child protection needs collective action. Awareness and education can help address this issue in the most effective manner. Child rights protection in the context of Nagaland needs to be addressed from a community level particularly through the active involvement of the Churches, Organisations and others,” she said.
She also highlighted that the Constitution of India has the following provisions relating to children: Article 14, Article 15(3), Article 21, Article 21 A, Article 23(1), Article 24, Article 29(2), Article 39(e), Article Article 39(f), Article 45, Article 47, and Article 51A(k).
Apart from the Constitution, there are a number of legislations which deals with children that includes: the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012, Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994, the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005, the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.
“On our own we cannot achieve a child safe and friendly environment but together we can,” Therieh added.
During the technical session, IGP (Range) Sonia Singh dwelling on “challenges and role of police in combating child protection” observed that 80% of the crimes committed against children are by family persons. The police officer said that children in Nagaland categorized under the age group between 0-18 comprises 39% of the state population.
Towards this, she said one of the greatest challenges on the way of the administration prevalent on our society is our ignorance towards filing immediate FIR or evidence not disclosed on the part of the person responsible is a major cause of losing medical evidence.
She also mentioned on missing photos of victims or lack of medical facilities in remote areas as huge concern. Singh then said that nodal officers in all departments need to be earmarked for easy accessibility of timely actions.
State Panel Lawyer, Limhathung Ezung dwelt on laws relating to children. He pointed that acts such as the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 are non-bailable and added that Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is a means to help young violators of law to get back in the society on the right path and ensure aftercare and reintegration of such children.
Towards this, he pointed that children are placed in two categories- those children in ‘conflict with the law’ are handled by State Governments/ ‘Juvenile Justice Boards’ while those in need of ‘care and protection’ are to be looked after by State Governments/ ‘Child Welfare Committees’.
Collab Director, CHILDLINE 1098 Dimapur, K Ela sharing her experiences on child issues said that not only children but people who fight for their justices also go through the same trauma of the kid and pointed that statistics only poses a bleak picture against unreported cases in the state.
She reflected on issuing of random birth certificates/ permanent residence and later disowning children which also raises a question of illegal adoption. On issues of molestation or rape cases settled at the customary courts, she called for settling it at the best interest of the child keeping in mind that proper help and care is given thereafter.
Senior Programme Coordinator, Childline India Foundation Kolkata, Avik Mitra shared on the topic “Understanding Child Protection – issues and strengthening the Services available for Child Rights”. Clinical Psychologist and founder The Could Room, Themmungla Raman spoke on importance of counseling for parents and children.
Later presenting the way forward, NSLSA member secretary Therieh said that awareness and sensitization using creative mediums at village levels and also inclusion of child protection awareness in Sunday school curriculum in all churches would be of major support. (Page News Service)