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    “Child abuse is rampant; Children are not vote bank, so ignored”

    Published on June 29, 2020

    There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children. These are the words of Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary Humanist.  But regrettably, majority of children across the globe are deprived of a safe and violence free environment. A UNICEF report says “Over half of the world’s children have experienced severe violence and 64 per cent of these are in South Asia.  India is no exception. As per the report “Violence against children is widespread and pervasive, and remains a harsh reality for millions of children in India.”

    Successive governments, both at the centre and states, make tall claims of their efforts to contain atrocities against children through stringent legislations. But in the violence against children are on the rise across the country. As per a report of the National Crime Records Bureau released in December 2017, in India a child is sexually abused every 15 minutes. It’s absurd, the children are brazenly abused, despite the country has severe laws existing. “It’s an irony the children are blatantly abused, sexually and emotionally, though there rigorous laws and over a dozen government funded institutions with statutory powers to safe guard them from the perpetrators,” laments Dr.G.V.Hari, National Chairman, Jawahar Balajana Vedi.  Dr Hari, a noted child rights activist, is a teacher for over two decades. He holds a PhD in Youth Studies and Extension from Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development, Govt. of India. Dr Hari is vociferous on Child Rights, “Child related issues are so dear to me for the simple reason that I am a teacher. Fighting for rights of the children is not just a passion, but it’s my mission that will go on unabated.” In the context of the arrest of about 47 people as part of the crackdown against online child sexual abuse material Dr Hari shared his unfathomable anxiety on swelling child abuse cases and unprecedented increase in child right violations with PNI News, Excerpts:   

      According to reports India’s record on child abuses is abysmally agonizing.  As per the statistics of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data in 2018 109 children were sexually abused every day in India in 2018 which was 22 percent more than 2017. Over the past decade there is a jump of over 20 per cent in crime against children per year. In Kerala alone690 child abuse cases reported in the first six months in 2019. Despite the country has a National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and each state has separate chapter the child buses are rampant across the country.  How could be curb the menace of atrocities against children? 

    I believe, not only our country but the whole world needs a change in the attitude towards children. When compared to European countries, ours is more orthodox kind of society. Many parents consider children as slaves, may be because they were forced to live in a subdued situation with hardly any freedom to express feelings and passions without any restraint. There needs to be a change in our approach to the children. A benevolent and positive approach from the parents could infuse confidence in the young minds and that could give them guts to resist abuses of any kind from anyone.  The child should feel free to open up his mind to the parents. Parents should be their best friend, philosopher and guide and not masters.

    As a teacher I believe parents and teachers should be a good “waste basket”, where the children can dump all their troubles and problems, and the basket will not and should not spill out by any chance. I mean parents and teachers need instil such kind of confidence to their children, that anything can be shared with their parents and also teachers, with no reservations.

    Various government institutions are functioning both at the Centre and State levels for the wellbeing of the children. How do you rate their efficacy?  

    According to me, the existing system (for child welfare) needs to be refurbished giving little room for external (political) interferences.  Of late, agencies like Child Resource Centre (CRC), Child Welfare Committees (CWC) and Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) are more used for political rehabilitation. Inept people appointed, with ulterior agenda, as heads of such sensitive and significant institutions will only help to hamper interest of the children who are seen as the future of the Nation. Being someone who is working for the welfare of the children, I am terribly disturbed the way key institutions established to protect interests of the children are turned into political settlements. It’s high time stop political misuse of such high priority institutions. Or else the entire structure created for the welfare of the upcoming generation will degenerate and collapse beyond revival.

     To curb the atrocities and violence against children political resolve and unprejudiced attitude is a must. Unfortunately, for the political rulers the children are not any vote bank, hence they remain ignored! This state of affairs has to change.  Orientation and unlearning also is needed to both parents and public. Each one in the society should feel every other child as their own. To me this is the only effective way to protect our children from evils.

     Being a child right activist do you feel, existing criminal justice system, including POCSO, is not proving to be powerful?  Do you feel the NCPCR has to be provided with more teeth like power to prosecute the abusers?

    It is not that the commissions are less powerful and without teeth. Here the pertinent question is how hard you could bite. We passed a powerful Act, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO). But unfortunately the offenders pick up loopholes in it too. Commissions and committees are for children, but adults feel they are for them to show off. The selection of genuine and committed people to these institutions established to protect children will help to strengthen the whole system. Even a highly literate state like Kerala too is in the wrong side. The Left Parties in Kerala are not thinking right! So instead of bringing additional legislations or enacting a few more laws please strengthen and strictly enforce the existing ones.

    Controversy has been erupted over the recent appointment of Chairman of the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KeSCPCR). There is a serious allegation that the Commission has become an institution for political rehabilitation.

    100 percent, it is a political rehabilitation exercise of the ruling Left Front Government in the state. Many experienced Child Rights activists were not even invited for the interview of the Chairman’s position. Even two knowledgeable judges shortlisted were found rejected by the selection committee. Interestingly, these two judges were experienced in dealing with Child related issues. Many, including noted legal experts have raised their eyebrows on the unprecedented act of utter nepotism from the ruling dispensation. I am surprised! What was the yardstick of the selection board to assess the candidate’s ‘eminence’?  By and large the experience of a person related to his field describes his distinction. It’s absurd, the newly appointed chairperson was chosen for the post, thanks to his “valuable” experience as a Parent Teachers Association (PTA) Member of a school in Kanoor.

    A survey Reports pointed out that more than 53% of the children are found to be victims of some form of sexual abuses, even from the nearest relatives and in certain cases from parents. How could these grave issues be addressed?

    It’s a hard fact; child abuse is rampant in the country. Kerala is no exception. Enough is not done to pin down the predators hunting the young kids. Just the other day 42 offenders were arrested from different parts of Kerala for sharing and enjoying child porn. This is the situation. Proper education from lower classes needs to be provided the children so that they could protect themselves from such perverted minds. Counselling sessions and centres need to be part of the schools and curriculum. To my opinion drug abuse is also a major cause for spurt in child abuse cases. Punishments need to be made more severe and harsh. Justice should be delivered in a much faster pace. More peer group sharing should be promoted, and parents need to be more friendly, warm and sociable to children. Be close to our Kids, their heart and thoughts, with more compassion and care.

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