Papon Kissing Row: Child’s Rights Body steps up effort to keep children in entertainment safe

Papon Kissing Row: Child’s Rights Body steps up effort to keep children in entertainment safe
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No child was harmed, hurt or ill-treated during the making of this film. All child rights and dignity of the child were upheld during the course of production – this is the disclaimer the Early Childhood Association (ECA) has sought to be made compulsory before the start of a film, in a bid to ensure safety of kids who are part of the entertainment industry.
After preparing exhaustive guidelines, specifically for film production houses, to ensure children’s physical as well as emotional safety, the ECA, a organisation working in the sector of early childhood education and development of children, has requested the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and the Women and Child Development Ministry to bring in such mandates, including the disclaimer, which will force everyone to take serious cognisance.
The demand comes in the wake of the recent controversy surrounding popular Bollywood singer Angarag Mahanta, aka Papon, who was seen kissing a minor contestant from the reality singing show he’s judging.
Nurturing the young
“The film and television industry has helped to shape our society as it is today; we owe many path-breaking changes to some hard-hitting films that changed the way in which kids are perceived and treated in our society. We hence urge them to take a step forward and be a progressive industry that respects and nurtures young children,” states the letter by ECA, which recommends several elaborated guidelines, with “the first and foremost” being the disclaimer that no child was hurt during production.
Other guidelines include: child artistes should not miss school for more than 10 days in an academic year for work, and a copy of the contract should be submitted to his/her school, so that it is aware of the terms and conditions and can check if the child is being taken advantage of.
‘Guidelines needed’
It also suggests that a child artiste not be made to work for more than six hours a day, there be ample breaks, and working hours be strictly during the day.
ECA president Swati Popat said, “There are so many children working in the entertainment industry these days. For most of them, it is what they like. But at the end of the day, they are children, and, as a society, we need to be more careful towards them. While we don’t recommend a complete ban on children’s participation, but as this is becoming a regular phenomenon, we strongly suggest developing and making use of appropriate guidelines to regulate the industry in terms of how children are treated.
“There so many reality shows where kids are contesting… but there should be a strict ban on having any kid below the age of six on such shows, because they are not emotionally equipped to handle that kind of pressure.”
A few key guidelines
i. There should be no violation of child rights, such as doing away with a lunch break.
ii. No junk food should be served to the children, and food served should be healthy and hygienic.
iii. A policy against child abuse should be in place; the child should not be involved in lewd songs.
iv. Every member of the unit should be made aware (and sign if required) about the POCSO Act and appropriate and inappropriate touches, so that they avoid unnecessarily touching the child on the lips, chest, and the part between the legs and bottom unless absolutely necessary for make-up or costume change/fitting. The make-up artiste and the person dressing the child should be female for a girl child and male for a boy; if that’s not possible, then the child’s parent or guardian should be present when dress measurements, etc, are being taken. Changing room for the children should be such that no one can see them or photograph them or video them.
v. A parent or guardian should be with the child at all times.
vi. Child-friendly make-up and lights should be used during shoots, so that it does not harm the child’s eyes or skin.
vii. Children should not be made to mouth dialogues or lines that are vulgar, inappropriate for their age, gender or culture.
viii. If the child is acting in an emotional scene, it should be explained to him/her, so that there are no lingering repercussions on his/her mental health.