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Ensure victims of sexual harassment at workplace are not subjected to vendetta: Government

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> To prevent aggrieved women from being victimised in cases of sexual harassment at work places, the Centre has asked all ministries and departments to ensure that they are not posted under the accused or any other person where she may be subjected to harassment.The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) also said in proven cases of sexual harassment, for a period of five years, a watch should be kept to ensure that the victim is not subjected to vendetta.”It should be ensured that the aggrieved women are not victimised in connection with the complaints filed by them… In case of any victimisation, the complainant may submit a representation to the Secretary in the case of Ministries or Departments and Head of the Organisation in other cases,” the DoPT order said.These representations should be dealt with sensitivity, in consultation with the complaints committees, ministries or departments and heads of the departments. And a decision should be taken within 15 days of the submission. The order came following a meeting of Minister of Women and Child Development with the DoPT where concerns were raised over the undue delay in completion of inquiries in such cases.”Any inquiry in cases of sexual harassment of women at the work place should be completed within one month and no probe should take more than 90 days, the permissible time limit prescribed under the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013″ it said.The Ministries and Departments have been directed to include information related to the number of such cases and their disposal in their annual reports.They have also been directed to furnish the details of number of complaints received, disposed and action taken in a monthly report to the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

Norway authorities should return Indian child Aryan to natural parents: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: Ahead of its Ambassador’s meeting with authorities in Norway involving the custody of a child of a Indo-Norwegian family, on Tuesday India made it clear that it wants the five-and-a-half year boy united with his natural parents.

Taking a hard stance, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said she refuses to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than natural parents.

In a series of tweets, Swaraj said, “Our Ambassador in Norway is meeting the Norwegian authorities today regarding Aryan. I refuse to accept that foster parents can take better care of the child than the natural parents.

“The foster parents are totally ignorant of the Indian culture and our food habits. We want restoration of Aryan to his natural parents.”

Sushma Swaraj. PTISushma Swaraj. PTI

Sushma Swaraj. PTI

Indian national Gurvinderjit Kaur and her husband, who is a Norwegian national, have alleged that authorities in that country have taken away their son, also a Norwegian national, on a frivolous complaint of abuse.

Kaur had also written to the Ministry seeking help in getting back her son, who has been taken away by the Norway Child Welfare Services.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway.

The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

First Published On : Dec 27, 2016 11:07 IST

Sanskari passport: Now sadhus can mention names of spiritual gurus instead of biological parents

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sadhus and sanyasis can now mention names of their spiritual gurus instead of biological parents under new passport rules announced which also eliminate the mandatory requirement of the birth certificate as the proof of date of birth (DOB).The rules, which were announced by Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh, also provides a provision for government servants, who are not able to get “no objection certificate” from their respective ministries/departments.In order to streamline, liberalise and ease the process of issue of passport, the ministry has taken a number of steps in the realm of passport policy which is expected to benefit the citizens of India applying for a passport, Singh noted.In case of proof of DOB while filing application, it has now been decided that all applicants of passports can submit any one of the documents –transfer/School leaving/ Matriculation Certificate, PAN card, Aadhaar Card/E-Aadhaar having the DOB of applicant, copy of the extract of the service record of the applicant, driving licence, Election Photo Identity Card (EPIC) or LIC policy bond.Birth Certificate issued by the Registrar of Births & Deaths or the Municipal Corporation or any other prescribed authority whosoever has been empowered under the Registration of Birth & Deaths Act, 1969 to register the birth of a child born in India can also be given as DOB proof.As per the extant statutory provisions of the Passport Rules, 1980, all the applicants born on or after January 26, 1989, had to mandatory submit the birth certificate as the DOB proof to get a passport.The government has also accepted the demand by the sadhus/sanyasis that they should be allowed to write names of their gurus instead of names of their parents, Singh said, adding but they have to provide at least one public document such as EPIC, PAN card, Adhaar Card, etc wherein the name of the guru has been recorded against the column(s) for parent(s) name(s).In case of government servants, who are not able to obtain the Identity Certificate/ No-Objection Certificate from their employer concerned and intend to get the passport on urgent basis can now get the passport by submitting a self- declaration that he/she has given prior Intimation letter to his/her employer informing that he/she was applying for an ordinary passport.A report of a inter-ministerial committee with members from MEA and Women and Child Development ministry to examine issues pertaining to applications where mother/child has insisted that the name of the father should not be mentioned in the passport and also relating to children with single parent and to adopted children has also been accepted.Based on the report, policy changes have been made which include no mandatory requirement of a marriage certificate for married applicants as also provide name of the only one parent and not both. This would enable single parents to apply for passports for their children and to also issue passports where the name of either the father or the mother is not required to be printed at the request of the applicant. Under the new rules, total number of Annexes prescribed in the Passport Rule, 1980, has been brought down to 9 from the present 15 and all the annexes that are required to be given by the applicants would be self-declaration on plain paper. “No attestation/swearing by/before any Notary/Executive Magistrate/First Class Judicial Magistrate would be henceforth necessary,” as per the new rules, which also do not require the applicant to provide the name of her/his spouse in case of separated or divorced persons. Such applicants would not be required to provide even the Divorce Decree. Orphaned children who do not have any proof of DOB such as Birth Certificate or the Matriculation Certificate or the declaratory court order, may now submit a declaration given by the Head of the Orphanage/Child Care Home on official letter head of the organisation confirming the DOB of the applicant.For children not born out of wedlock, the applicant should submit only self-declaration form while submitting the application and in case of issue of passport to in-country domestically-adopted children, submission of the registered adoption deed would no longer be required. Asked about the rules applicable to get a passport for a child born through surrogacy, Chief Passport Officer Arun K Chatterjee said there was a specific list of documents required as per the Indian Council For Medical Research regulations.Since the bill dealing with surrogacy is still pending before the Lok Sabha, changes can only be carried out after it is passed, he added.Singh also said the necessary notifications would soon be published in the Official Gazette to give effect to these changes. Instructions are also being issued to the Passport Issuing Authorities in India and abroad on these revised regulations.”MEA expects that the changes in the Passport Rules would further ease the process for passport applicants in getting their Passport.”At the same time, it would enable this Ministry to continue to deliver passport related services to the citizens in a timely, transparent, more accessible, reliable manner and in a comfortable environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce,” Ministry Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.Singh also said the ministry was examining a pilot project under which the head post offices could be used to provide passport services. On when will the passport services like ‘Tatkal’ can become cashless, Chatterjee said they have done a tie-up with SBI and were getting machines to make the service totally cashless and expressed hope it will start functioning in next fortnight or so. He also mentioned that currently there were 89 passport seva kendras apart from 38 passport offices and seven passport centres in the country. Responding to a separate query on demonetization and the update on the recomendations of the inter-ministerial task force, Swarup said it was still under the preview of the Department of Economic Affairs.”We continue to pursue with them and we hope that very soon we will have some recommendations…Government will take a considered view in the matter,” he added.

India will provide help to the mother whose boy has been taken away by Norway: Sushma Swaraj

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said India will provide help on the request of the mother of the boy, who has been taken away by the Norway authorities even as Norwegian embassy here asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.

Swaraj’s reaction came a day after she had asked the Indian Ambassador in Oslo to send a report on the allegations made by the couple that the Norwegian authorities took away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse. While father and son are Norwegian nationals, the mother is an Indian citizen.

“I have received the report. Father and son are Norwegian nationals. We will represent on request of the mother, who is an Indian national,” Swaraj tweeted.

Reacting to the case, the Spokesperson in Norwegian Embassy said the mission is aware and understands “the concerns on the ongoing child welfare case involving an Norwegian/Indian family in Norway”.

File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

File photo of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. PTI

“The Embassy would like to reiterate that child welfare cases are handled in accordance to the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their background, residential status or citizenship. The basic principle of the Act is that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.

“Since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality. The Embassy, therefore, requests restraint and assures that the Norwegian authorities are dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness. When available and permissible, updates on the case will be provided to the media and the general public.”

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.

In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.

In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

Later, briefing reporters, MEA Spokesperson Vikas Swarup said the Indian Embassy in Oslo is following up the matter.

“Our Ambassador has already established contact with the father who is a Norwegian citizen as is the child. The mother, however, is an Indian passport holder. Following the custody of the child by Norway’s Child Welfare Services (CWS), legal proceedings are currently underway regarding the continuation of such custody,” he said.

The ministry has been informed that the father has engaged a Norwegian lawyer to pursue the matter in the court, Swarup said.

“Given the seriousness of the issue, should we receive a formal representation from the mother, who is an Indian national, our Embassy remains fully prepared to engage with local authorities to impress upon them that this is a humanitarian issue and that the separation of a child from his parents is a matter of distress to the entire family,” he added.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 20:55 IST

Norway child ‘abuse’: India to provide help on boy’s mother’s request, says Swaraj

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Friday said India will provide help on the request of the mother of the boy, who has been taken away by the Norway authorities even as Norwegian embassy here asked for “restraint” in the case, assuring that it is being handled with “complete sensitivity and awareness”.Swaraj’s reaction came a day after she had asked the Indian Ambassador in Oslo to send a report on the allegations made by the couple that the Norwegian authorities took away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse.While father and son are Norwegian nationals, the mother is an Indian citizen.
ALSO READ Sushma Swaraj seeks report on 5-year-old child taken from Indian couple in Norway”I have received the report. Father and son are Norwegian nationals. We will represent on request of the mother, who is an Indian national,” Swaraj tweeted.Reacting to the case, the Spokesperson in Norwegian Embassy said the mission is aware and understands “the concerns on the ongoing child welfare case involving an Norwegian/Indian family in Norway”.”The Embassy would like to reiterate that child welfare cases are handled in accordance to the Norwegian Child Welfare Act, which includes directions from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”The Act applies to all children in Norway, regardless of their background, residential status or citizenship. The basic principle of the Act is that the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”Since child welfare cases are highly sensitive, the cases are therefore subject to a strict duty of confidentiality. The Embassy, therefore, requests restraint and assures that the Norwegian authorities are dealing with the case with complete sensitivity and awareness. When available and permissible, updates on the case will be provided to the media and the general public.” This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse.In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents.In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children, 7 and 2 years. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

NRI couple in Norway lose custody of child, seeks Sushma Swaraj’s help: All you need to know

A five-and-a-half-year-old boy was taken away from his NRI parents by Norwegian authorities on Wednesday, reports said. The officials accused the parents of beating the child. This is the third such incident in the past five years where a child was taken away by the Child Welfare Department of Norway. Speaking to The Indian Express, the father of the boy, Anil Kumar said that the authorities did not even give them prior information. The child, Aryan, was taken into custody on 13 December from his kindergarten school at 9.30 am. “They did not give us prior information. At 10 am, the same day, four policemen came to my house, took my wife into custody, and interrogated her from 11.15 am to 2.45 pm,” said Kumar

Kumar, who is a citizen of Norway, moved to Oslo 26 years ago from Punjab and is a owner of an Indian restaurant. Speaking to CNN-News18, Aryan’s father said that the authorities had absolutely no evidence against them and that the authorities did not have summons to take Aryan.

“Aryan cannot sleep. He cries all the time and he misses us. Aryan’s mother (Gurvinderjit Kaur) hasn’t stopped crying. We have never hit him, there is no evidence against us,” Kumar told the channel.

Kumar, who also is the vice-president of the Overseas Friends of the BJP in Oslo, said that Aryan was sent to a children’s welfare home in Hamar, about 150 kilometres away from Oslo. Kumar is a Norwegian citizen and his wife holds an Indian passport. They have appealed to the Indian government for help alleging that their son was taken away without any evidence and is suffering at a children’s home under the custody of child welfare department. External Affair Minister Sushma Swaraj, on Thursday stepped in to help family.

Sushma sought a report from Indian Ambassador in Norway on the allegations made by the Indian couple that the Norwegian authorities had taken away their five-year-old child on frivolous complaint of abuse. BJP leader Vijay Jolly had written to her and the Indian Ambassador in Norway after the couple sought his help in getting back the custody of their child. The parents also alleged that the authorities asked leading questions to the child. “How will a small kid know? The questions were leading. We have never hit our child,” Kumar told News18.

Meanwhile, MEA officials said, “Our Embassy officials in Oslo have spoken to the boy’s father Anil Kumar Sharma and extended full support. However, Sharma informed the mission that he has hired a lawyer to represent him in the case.” When contacted, Norwegian Embassy spokesperson said, “The Embassy became aware of this case yesterday evening. We have asked relevant authorities in Norway to provide us with further information, and are awaiting their response.”

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

“We met the child welfare officials twice, on 14 and 16 December, and they haven’t been able to produce any evidence. They said they received a complaint from a person. We are not sure who registered this baseless complaint against us… By doing this, he or she has ruined our family life,” Kumar was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

In his letter to Indian Ambassador Debraj Pradhan, Jolly had raised concern on “forcible custody” of the boy Aryan by Child Welfare Department of Norway on “baseless and fabricated complaint” in Oslo on 13 December. Jolly said he has received a call from a senior MEA official saying that help will be given to the Indian couple.

The Indian embassy in Norway confirmed to News18 that Indian ambassador Debraj Pradhan has already spoken to the child’s father. Quoting sources, the channel reported that Kumar has hired a lawyer to defend his family in court and “the ambassador will be meeting him again.”

Norway’s child welfare department was tight-lipped on the exact facts of the case. News18 reported:

“When the channel (CNN-News18) emailed them to ascertain the status of the case and the charges against the parents they responded saying, “The Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion is responsible for the general child welfare policy. However, the government does not have the authority to comment on or intervene in individual cases.”

It is still not clear when the child would be returned to his parents. Government sources have indicated that the legal processes may take time.

This is the third case since 2011 when children have been taken away from their Indian-origin parents by the authorities in Norway on the grounds of abuse. In 2011, a three-year-old and a one-year-old were separated from their parents, prompting the then UPA government to take up the issue with Norway. The Norwegian court later allowed the children to be reunited with their parents. In December 2012, an Indian couple was jailed on charges of ill treatment of their children aged seven and two years old. Later, they were were sent to their grandparents in Hyderabad.

What does the Child Protection Laws in Norway specify?

The Norway child act places great importance on family ties and child’s upbringing in a healthy atmosphere with their parents. According to the  Norwegian Child Welfare Act is applicable to all children and their parents living in Norway, regardless of their residential status, religion and nationality. The general child welfare policy is mainly comes under the Ministry of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion in Norway. The child welfare cases are handled by the local child welfare services and their job is to conduct family investigations in case of child abuse.

The Child Welfare Service in Nowray is also known as Barnevernet. Barnevernet is an independent body and no ministers can instruct the board in decisions related to the welfare of child. Reports cite many cases where the Barnevernet has been criticised by social workers and child psychologists who argued that they need to reform their methods. Every year nearly 53,000 such cases were handled by the child welfare service in Norway.

How common is the practice of separating children?

The Indian Express reported that over 80 percent of cases where the Child Welfare Services concludes that some kind of intervention is needed, they offer various kinds of assistance to the parents. In 2014, at least 43,000 families got assistance and were let of, while 9,611 children were removed — temporarily or permanently — from the custody of the parents.

First Published On : Dec 23, 2016 15:02 IST

Supreme Court bats for rights of incest rape survivors

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Reporting incest rape is a difficult task, especially because of the societal stigma surrounding it. In case the survivor is a child, as clinical psychologists and psychiatrists point out, reporting rape becomes all the more onerous. It is called the child sexual abuse accommodation syndrome, as lucidly described by Roland C Summit it in this article. The survivor often ends up putting all the blame on herself, and the courts buy that version. By the time she is able to come to terms with the treatment meted out to her, it’s too late — the courts have already acquitted the offender and are mostly reluctant to order a retrial or even reopen the case. Journalist Pinki Virani’s book Bitter Chocolate narrates in detail certain decisions of courts which have followed this tragic trajectory.However, in a recent decision — State of Himachal Pradesh v Sanjay Kumar @Sunny (Criminal Appeal Number 1231 of 2016) — the Supreme Court has ruled that in such cases, the courts below must follow a survivor-centric approach and not go by the hoary “proof beyond reasonable doubt” standard. Overturning a decision of the Himachal Pradesh High Court, the apex court went by the trial court’s decision of convicting the accused only on the basis of the testimony of the survivor.Since Article 141 of the Constitution mandates that Supreme Court judgements are the law of the land, this particular decision marks a watershed moment in India’s rape trial and sentencing jurisprudence, which, as many feminist and legal scholars have proved, is pockmarked with arbitrariness, victim-blaming and misogynistic stereotyping.Facts of the case(WARNING: Graphic details follow)A nine-year-old girl visits her grandparents during her winter vacations. Once she is there, an uncle lures her into a remote room, gags her mouth, undresses her, and rapes her. Not only does he gag her so that her screams go unheard, but he also threatens to kill her if she narrates or reports his dastardly act to anyone. The survivor falls unconscious, and when she regains consciousness, she finds herself alone in the room, and silently put on her garments. And remains silent.After a fortnight, the uncle repeats the same act, and again, during the survivor’s second visit, he commits rape again. Intimidated and ashamed, the girl remains silent.But after 2-3 years, when she suffers from acute stomach ache, the child is compelled to confide in her mother. Her parents immediately go to the police station and lodge an FIR for rape.The prosecution cross-examined as many as 12 witnesses, but the Supreme Court declined to repose faith in the witnesses put forward by the accused.The Defence Case, RebuffedThe accused’s defence lawyers put forth two strands of arguments— one, that the prosecutrix was being used as a pawn by her parents in order to settle a family feud. Two, that because she had complained of the alleged incident after three years, it was clearly a case of premeditated afterthought.But the court refused to believe this. It held that the survivor’s silence and hiding of the blood-stained garments was on account of the stigma and threats she would face if she opened her mouth. She was also scared of and scarred by the death threats.Instead, the court relied upon the unimpeachable medical evidence, which stated that:“prosecutrix was forcefully raped by the respondent and as a result of that her hymen was ruptured and her external anal sphincter was also torn. Even internal sphincter was not continence. She found that the anal sphincter of the prosecutrix was not functioning properly. In the opinion of the examining doctor, on account of injury to the prosecutrix’s anal sphincter, she might be a sufferer throughout her life.”Moreover, the apex court also relied upon the fact that a child of the tender age of nine would be extremely reluctant to disclose what was done to her, especially when threatened with death.The Crux of the RulingPerpetrators of child sexual abuse go out of their way to pin all the blame on the child, and more often than not, the courts are taken in by such pernicious alibi. But not so in this case. Here, the Supreme Court relied upon concrete medical evidence, psychological factors, and factors which took into account the totality of the case’s circumstances.Reasons enough to hail this ruling as a victory over those who sexually prey on children.

A touch of the special

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>From three to a million lives,” is how Mithu Alur describes the long journey of the NGO ADAPT, formerly called the Spastic Society of India (SSI), on Friday evening. Sitting a few feet away from her in the drawing room of their Colaba home is daughter Malini Chib, an employee with Tata Consultancy Services. Malini, who suffers from cerebral palsy (CP), has come down from London to attend the launch of Alur’s book A Birth That Changed a Nation: A New Model of Care and Inclusion, which was released on Saturday, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. SSI owes its birth to Malini. She is one of the many success stories of the 44-year-old organisation that was set up in 1972 in Colaba, Mumbai, at a time when in India the word spastic was often confused with plastic, and ignorance and discrimination went hand-in-hand.A Birth… of sensibility“The main purpose of the book was to alleviate the sufferings of millions of children tucked away in the remote corners of the country who do not have access to quality health-care services. At the core of this book is a new scientific method of rehabilitation and care developed by SSI in the early 1970s for children with multiple disabilities like CP as well as other physical disabilities, says Alur. After reading this book, Alur feels, parents, especially the mother, should be able to understand what to do with the child — how to carry the child, how to feed him/her and how to teach a kid suffering from a chronic neurological disorder the 3 R’s (reading, writing and numbers). At the same time she emphasises that to reach out to a wider audience, A Birth That Changed a Nation: A New Model of Care and Inclusion needs to be translated in regional languages.One of the key points in the book is the human aspect of being disabled in India, about those who have suffered years of neglect in this country. It narrates stories of how children with a slight modification in curriculum and examination systems, with a little help from skilled teachers and therapists and a close partnership with parents, passed examinations effortlessly. A shining example in this regard is Alur’s daughter Malini, who is an academician with a Master’s degree in Gender Studies from the Institute of Education, University of London.Government policiesIt is important to view SSI’s work against the backdrop of government policies for the country’s disabled population. Curiously, in India, no proper statistics regarding the prevalence and incidence of disability are available.The National Sample Survey Organisation survey in 2002 put the figure of the population suffering from disabilities at 1.85 crore, which was then considered a gross underestimation by experts. The 2011 Census puts the figure at 2.68 crore, a marginal increase from the 2.19 crore estimated after the 2001 head-count exercise. United Nations’ specialists believe that disabled people comprise 10-15 per cent of the current population. Even by conservative estimates, there are 10 lakh spastics in India. Activists have long railed against the raft of legislations such as National Trust Act (1999), Persons With Disability Act (1995), Rehabilitation Council of India Act (1992) and Mental Health Act (1987), as they are essentially discriminatory in nature. The Disabilities Bill, supposed to replace the PDA, is still languishing in cold storage. It has been reported that although the Integrated Child Development Scheme, under the Women and Child Development department, targets disadvantaged population, it has conveniently left out children with disabilities. This has resulted in the exclusion of nearly five million children in the age group of 0-5. This winter session, the Lok Sabha is also scheduled to vote on the Mental Health Care Bill (2013), which is slated to replace its 1987 predecessor. The new Act protects the rights of persons with mental illness and pushes for their access to mental healthcare. Even today in India, a majority of services for the disabled child is delivered through the voluntary sector. Where there are state-supported schools for the specially-abled, it defeats the government’s policy of integration of these children into the educational system. In the absence of institutional support, it is NGOs like SSI that have become crucial to cater to kids with special needs. From the bungalow in Colaba, SSI has spread to 21 centres across India, including the four metros and smaller cities like Pune, Baroda, Tepur, Guwahati, Allahabad and Cochin.SSI and their aim“SSI was built from scratch and it brought about a sea change in an environment where apathy, indifference, hostility and ignorance reigned supreme,” says Dr Samiran Nundy, a renowned surgeon. He is the chairman of the Institutional Review Board set up by Alur to critique the performance of the organisation under 10 domains such as education, treatment and rehabilitation unit, child and parents’ partnership, training of teachers or therapists, and capacity building in the community. Nundy’s wife started SSI in northern India and his mother was instrumental for setting up a centre in Kolkata. “SSI focuses on a multi-disciplinary approach involving a team of doctors, psychologists, special educators, physiotherapists, job counsellors for the overall well being of the child,” says Dr Nundy, who is also Alur’s brother-in-law.SSI is considered a trailblazer for the unique model it developed over the years. It draws inspiration from what Alur witnessed in England when she took Malini for treatment in 1968 since there was no proper facility in India.“The doctors there treated my daughter with love and affection. Their whole approach to us changed our lives. They said Malini has a 150 IQ. Gradually she began walking with a walker, rode a tricycle, swam with a tyre, and began to read and write,” recounts Alur. “In the six years I was in England, I worked hard to get a diploma as a special educator so that I could take proper care of Malini,” she said. Inspired by the principles of nation-building, her relatives closed ranks with her and with the help of the then Prime Minister of India Indira Gandhi, she got the premises in Colaba to set up SSI. Nargis and Sunil Dutt became ardent champions of the cause.Right from the birth of SSI, the focus was to train and educate the parents and counsel them for which we introduced a course called home management, she says. “Our approach also emphasises on love and compassion, without which no amount of expertise will work. When the parents became experts, they became equal partners in the initiative. With our input and their input, the kid started registering improvement. Gradually, a whole cadre of people came together only because they wanted to do the right thing for their child.”From Colaba, SSI branched out to Kolkata and then to Delhi. It subsequently spread to different parts of India after people who took the teacher training programme from the NGO-opened centres in their respective towns and cities. “That’s how SSI reached Chennai through my first student Poonam Natrajan whose son Ishwar suffers from CP,” recalls Alur.Coming togetherTo fill the shortage of trained manpower, SSI began training teachers, therapists, social workers and psychologists in 1977. The first postgraduate diploma course in the education of the physically handicapped was set up in the country in 1978. It was renamed to Postgraduate Diploma in Special Education Multiple Disabilities: Physical and Neurological in 2003. The curriculum was developed in collaboration with specialists from the British Council, Spastics Society of UK and the Institute of Education, University of London. Its aim was to develop the skills, abilities and knowledge of teacher trainees to meet the physical, educational, social and emotional needs of persons with physical and neurological disability. Over 400 teachers across the country have received training.While looking back at her life and work and the unstinted support she has received from various quarters — from celebrities to commoners — Alur quotes lines from Rabindranath Tagore’s poem ‘The Little Lamp’. “Who will do my duties?” asked the Setting Sun… “I shall do what I can, my Master,” said the Little Lamp.“I have tried to light as many lamps as possible so that special children can be part of the society and not be treated as outsiders. Though there has been marked improvement in the attitude of the people, India still practices discrimination at both crude and subtle levels,” she says. Alur’s book, replete with photographs, shows what her untiring efforts have yielded — the many happy faces of children and their mothers who fought to overcome their limitations.

Activist questions police’s role in Navi Mumbai child beating case

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Social activist Abha Singh on Friday questioned the role of the Police in the Navi Mumbai case, where a caretaker Afsana Sheikh was hitting and kicking the 10-month-old girl caught in a CCTV footage, while alleging that wrong application of the sections of the Indian Penal code was imposed to protect the owner of the creche.”What is worse is the way the police have acted. It has put wrong sections on the owner of the creche and the worker and that is why the owner was given bail immediately. The police has booked her under 325 of the IPC and they have used Juvenile Justice Act of 2000, which is no longer in application,” Singh said.”It was repealed because as per the section put by the police, it was a bailable offence but now Juvenile justice act 2015 came into force in January 2016, Section 75 clearly says a child who is in the custody or supervision of a caretaker in an organisation if he assaults the child and beats the child then it is a cognizable offence with minimum three years of imprisonment to seven years, with a five lakh fine then why police did not put a section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act of 2015?,” she added.
ALSO READ Shocking: Play school employee assaults 10-month-old girl in Navi Mumbai, sent to judicial custodyEchoing similar sentiments another social activist from Bengaluru Brinda Adige has urged the parents to be more vocal about their grievances and report to the police if they encounter any such incident. “The parents have to report these incidences to police. Don’t they know that India being a signatory to the Convention of Rights of Children. The Juvenile Justice Act 2015 is a very strong act and can implement sanctions which means cruelty to a child is punishable. This is something which the police should look seriously,” she said.”It is a lesson that has to be taught. Unless a lesson is taught via courts and procedures these institutions will continue to abuse their power,” she added.In a shocking incident at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, a caretaker of Purva play school, assaulted a 10-month-old girl.CCTV footage obtained by the police shows caretaker Afsana Sheikh hitting, throwing and kicking the child. The child has sustained an injury on her head. The incident reportedly took place on November 21 and the girl’s mother reported the same to the police station on November 22. Taking cognizance of the complaint, the police inspected CCTV footage of the play school and detained the owner Priya Nikam and Shaikh in the case.The play school was inaugurated five months ago and Sheikh was employed only a month back. When the incident took place around afternoon on November 21, Shaikh was the only authority present in the school.

Show not your skin, Delhi police advise students

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Don’t post sexually provocative poses and don’t show too much skin.” No, this was not an angry parent berating her child but the Delhi police. In a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation given to 90 schools, addressing an estimated 5,300 children, the police apparently decided that it wasn’t just enough to enforce the law they needed to play the ‘moral police’ as well.The presentation, which has been accessed by DNA, will be made available to a further 876 schools across the capital soon.The presentations, which started from November 2 and are ongoing, came about after a directive by Delhi police Commissioner Alok Kumar Verma. Under this directive, the Delhi police started a programme entitled “Protect Children On The Net” where officials are meant to educate students about existing cyber laws of the country and the dangers of sexual predators online.”Online predators do not fit any one mould or stereotype. They come from all walks of life—seemingly upstanding citizens have been caught enticing children for sexual acts,” stated the presentation.Police officials have also told students — in the presentation— that predators on social networking sites and chat rooms may try to gain their trust by making promises, sending cool gifts or offering them affection and attention. “They may also talk about inappropriate things, send you sexually explicit images, ask for your personal information, or ask you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable.””Posting information like your name, your school, or your address could put you in a dangerous position and at the risk of victimisation. Someone looking to harm you could easily follow you and know what time of the day you will be at each location,” Delhi police officers told students.So far, so good. But post this information came the moral policing. Cops pointed out that students needed to behave in a “decent” manner online. “Sexually provocative photos and videos not only convey the wrong image, but may also catch the eye of a predator,” said Delhi police advised students.The cops also went on to say that by showing “too much skin” students were actually “enticing someone unknown on the internet who may later try to persuade to do inappropriate things.” And after this moral tirade, came a threat. Students were given examples of fellow students who had been suspended from school and lost career and educational opportunities, due to inappropriate information being posted on their profiles and blogs.The police also gave an example of a student whose social networking password was leaked and thereafter a “morphed nude photograph of hers were sent to everyone on her address book.”The police’s insensitivity in dealing with students has left some activists incensed. Bharti Ali, Founder and Director of HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, a Delhi-based NGO, working towards securing child rights, told DNA.”It is scary that the police are intruding into the private space of children. If they are educating children, they need to be more sensitive. There is no issue in educating kids but intruding into their personal space and directing them what to do and what not to do is, frankly, frightening.”Countering Ali’s claims, senior cops claim the slides should not be seen in isolation as the presentation addresses the larger problem of young minds falling prey to online predators.

A marathon celebration for children’s cause

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was an eventful Monday morning for 15-year-old Poornima who was among the 5,000 children that participated in ‘Run for less & under privileged children’ to mark Children’s Day. “It’s our day today,” the girl says as she tries to catch her breath.Organised by the NGO ‘Prayas’, the run was an initiative to create awareness about children rights. Besides school children there were at least 1,000 under-privileged children and homeless people.10-year-old Kumkum, an orphan, has been living with Prayas since last six years. “She came to us when she was just a kid and now she is running for the rights of children like her. I am glad that she has matured well and now think of others needs as well,” says her mentor at the NGO.Several other children like Kumkum on Monday gathered at the Central Secretariat ground in south Delhi’s Panchari Puri area to celebrate Children’s Day. The marathon was followed by some colourful performance by the underprivileged children.”We danced on different Bollywood numbers. I’m so excited as this is my first public performance,” says eight-year-old Iram, another orphan living with the NGO.Reshma, 12, was another enthusiast who participated and enjoyed every moment of it. “I love dancing, so, I decided why not just give my best dance performance today. I love freestyle dance, which I have learnt it watching on television,” she said with sparkling eyes. Reshma is another marginalised child living with Prayas.”As we celebrate Children’s Day on 14th November we thought marathon is a wonderful way to celebrate such a beautiful day. We wanted everyone from all walks of life to participate in this cause of ours, and create awareness about basic rights of children,” said Amod K Kanth, General Secretary of the NGO and former Chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights.At Prayas, as many as 50,000 marginalised children, youth and women addressing multiple issues are living and learning multiple skills to change their lives, he added.Besides, volunteers from corporate sector also ran with the marginalised children and performed in an effort to make them feel special”I voluntarily came here to run with these children and had a wonderful day with them here,” says Nitish Gulati, a corporate employee.Several prominent personalities including Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Bollywood actors Randeep Hooda and Adil Hussain and Delhi Police Commissioner Alok Verma were present at the event to encourage the children.”There is a need to start national awareness campaign for child rights and events like this helps to motivate people to work for the cause,” Sisodia said during the event.

Child trafficking accounts for a good chunk of black money: Kailash Satyarthi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is a sleepy afternoon outside Kailash Satyarthi’s Kalkaji residence. But the flurry of activities inside belie the quietude outside. Calls have just come in from Mumbai about a dozen children being left alone at a railway station, and the Nobel laureate’s phone keeps ringing.
Satyarthi is launching an initiative that will bring in global leaders to speak out against violence against children. He is bringing 14 Nobel laureates to the Capital for the project — Leaders and Laureates — on December 11 and 12 this year. He will also launch a youth-for-youth programme — 100 million for 100 million — which will mobilise 100 million well-to-do young people to help another 100 million in need.”If a government in any country makes laws which are regressive to children, or cuts budgetary allocation earmarked for children, or if the overseas development budget is not up to the promises made globally, we will raise those issues,” says Satyarthi.Ahead of Children’s Day on Monday (today), Satyarthi spoke to DNA about his initiative, about the lack of will among our political class to fight for children, and about mobilising the young to bring changes. Excerpts:You have spoken out against child laws that are regressive. In India, the Child Labour Act, which was amended this year, has invited a lot of flak. Similarly, the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, currently in discussion, has been derided on several counts. Think for a while, think about the power that about 100 million young people will wield. Of course, not everyone will join at one go, but several million will be on board initially. And, when this moral platform of global leaders get working, as the youth protest and appeal to their governments, pieces of legislation like the Child Labour Amendment Bill will not pass. The Bill has passed now, but several concerns plague almost all countries. It is our moral duty to stop that.This was one of the reasons that motivated me to think in that direction. Creating a safer world for children it is not an idealism. I think it is equally important to influence political will through moral power, which is something lacking in the world today.As far as the trafficking Bill is concerned, we have been working on it at the Bachpan Bachao Andolan. We are in close touch with the authorities and hope that this will be a good Bill. We have seen some progressive elements, like in the case of the Juvenile Justice Act, when we helped the government draft the model draft rules.You have said many times that black money and trafficking has a deep relationship. Do you think demonetization will help?I know that the common man is facing a lot of difficulties with the demonetization drive in several ways. But, I will say that the drive will definitely help curb trafficking. It will create a lot of problems for the traffickers, the slave masters, and those employing child labourers.I have spoken on black money with the previous government and the current one. When they talk of black money, the focus is on tax evasion. We have done some scientific studies, and we found that human trafficking, particularly child trafficking, prostitution and child labour, account for the largest segment of black money – much more than what the government estimates. Our estimate is that the trafficking trade in India is worth Rs 21 lakh crore, which includes the black money embedded in it.Every single rupee generated out of a child labourer, whether it is because of the denial of daily wage, or the denial of contract labour, or the violation of child labour laws, trafficking laws and the like, becomes black money. When a girl is trafficked from Assam, usually for Rs 10,000- Rs 15,000, and brought to Delhi or Haryana to be sold as a child bride, Rs 1,00,000-Rs 1,50,000 change hands. If she has been brought in by placement agencies for domestic labour, she is sold for Rs 40,000-Rs 50,000. All of this is black money.The government, while replying to a Lok Sabha question a few years ago, accepted that a child labourer earns Rs 20-25 a day, which means an employer spends Rs 20-25 on him or her every day. The floor wages of an adult labourer is Rs 120, even though the minimum wage across states is between Rs 175 and Rs 350.The situation today has changed slightly. A child labourer earns around Rs 40 and an adult around Rs 240. An employer saves Rs 200 on every child he or she employs. They cannot show on paper that they are employing child labourers. So, they write in wage books that they are paying Rs 240 while they pay only Rs 40. This is black money. For every child, the employer is saving Rs 200 every day. If somebody is employing 50 children in a small workshop, that’s Rs 3,00,000 every month.The good outcome of demonetization is that it has hurt traffickers badly. Yet, in the long run, we need proper enforcement laws relating to the poor, especially those relating to children. Otherwise, the situation will not change. The money will remain, only the bank notes will change.The amendment to the Child Labour Act formalised the need for young children to earn. How does that pan out when we talk of black money in the trafficking trade?I spoke against the Bill till the last moment. There was nothing substantial in the Lok Sabha debate. The government did not have any strong point to support the amendment, and the Opposition’s questions were not stinging enough.For example, I could not gather from the discussion as to the need for child labour when there is such a large number of unemployed youth, adults and the elderly in the country. I have been pushing this argument for sometime now – globally, 170 million children are doing full-time jobs when 197 million adults are jobless. Most of the jobless are the very parents or elders who send children to work.Children are preferred in labour-intensive industries as they are cheap, easy prey for tax evasion, and cannot speak on their behalf. Adults, on the other hand, demand more money and better living conditions.The government should have given employment schemes to parents, instead. Most importantly, if the government’s thought process is guided by the principles of disparity, discrimination and exclusion, children will continue to suffer. On the one hand, you are creating a club of elite young people whose aspirations touch the sky, and on the other, you are telling children in villages that our country is poor. Did these children create poverty? They are already suffering from poverty, and you tell them that this is the harsh reality. Why should children suffer? Educate them. The global economy owes everything to knowledge, information and technology. You are taking that away from the child in the village and asking him to drop out of school and help elders at home. That’s because of the government’s mental state of complacency. There’s also a fair amount of vested interest.Do you think that the Parliament lacks healthy voices to highlight social sector failures?There are a lot of social workers in the Parliament. If we look closely, social work is also, in the long run, a form of politics. Social workers may not actively pursue politics, but you are influencing the lives of people and that’s what politics is all about.Never in the history of India had a single day been devoted to child-related issues by the Parliament. Children may not be voters, but they are our future.That’s my appeal to the government and political parties today, on Children’s Day. No party has ever demanded that in the 69 years of the country’s parliamentary history. Every year, for dozens of days, the Parliament does not function, or business hours are wasted on frivolous issues. There has never been a demand by the parliamentarians to bring down the exploitation of girls even in the Capital. They will slur or fight, but not for children. Neither inside or outside the Parliament has it ever happened that leaders of national or regional parties have got together to discuss children’s education, budgetary allocation, and laws. This shows a serious lack of political will among the political class. Prioritise children in your political decisions, in policies and their implementation. If you design schemes with children in mind, a whole generation will benefit. But if you will look only at votes, benefits will percolate only for the coming five years. Accountability in the polity, society and other spheres is lacking.In the last few decades that you have been working for children in India, where do you think is the problem most prevalent?As far as child trafficking and child labour are concerned, the source areas have always been the eastern parts of the country — Assam, West Bengal, Bihar and Odisha. The metros – Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad etc. – make up for most of the destinations. These are the places which exploit children behind closed doors. Ten days ago, we carried out a big rescue operation and saved 45 children from a workshop in Delhi. We had to break this huge lock on an iron door, and it was complicated and messy. Some of us went in with the police. A lot of children were hidden inside, and many were sent to the terrace. They were hidden under gunny sacks, and they were terrified.

West Bengal: Stray dogs save abandoned 7-day-old baby girl

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A seven-day-old baby in Purulia district in West Bengal, is alive today because four stray dogs sat around her and chased crows away when she was left abandoned on the road, reported The Times of India. On Saturday, schoolteacher Ulhas Chowdhury heard a child’s cry near his area of residence at Pathardi Para. On inspection, he saw that the dogs were sitting around a baby and guarding her. Chowdhury then called other locals who took the baby in and fed her milk.Once the cops were informed, they took custody of the newborn and took her to Deben Mahato Sadar Hospital. “Though she has signs of jaundice, there is nothing to fear,” Dr Shibshankar Mahato told the daily.Chowdhury named the baby Sania. District co-ordinator of the Child Helpline, Dipankar Sarkar said that Sania will be taken to a state-run home-cum-adoption centre at Bhatbandh, once she is released from the hospital.”Had it not been for the dogs, we would probably have lost the baby. We are all grateful to them,” Chowdhury told the daily.

Odisha: Parents on hunger strike until third child recovers from Japanese Encephalitis

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Fearing that their third child would meet the same end after their other two children became victims to Japanese Encephalitis, the distraught parents in Odisha’s Malkangiri have been on a hunger strike ever since their child has been admitted to hospital.After their initial reluctance over admitting their child in the hospital, Sudrashan Padiyami and Sumitra finally agreed to Malkangiri’s District Magistrate Sudarshan Chakravarthy, who persuaded them to do so.”I have told to the District Magistrate that until my child returns safe and sound we will not eat and drink,” Sudrashan Padiyami told ANI.Following this, several women organisations met the parents to share their grievances.One of the local organisations named ‘Maa’ has started protesting outside the district administration demanding immediate preventive measures to tackle the rising menace.Odisha has been the worst victim of Japanese Encephalitis outbreak where more than 80 children have fell victim to the deadly virus.So far 505 villages in the tribal dominated Malkangiri have been affected due to Japanese Encephalitis.

Govt likely to junk inter-parental child abduction Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite international pressure, the Centre is likely to junk the Bill on inter-parental child abduction which deals with child custody issues for NRI couples and would have paved the way for India’s accession to the Hague Convention.The Law Commission, though, recently submitted its report to the Law Ministry sticking to its 2007 stand advising the government to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of International Child Abduction (1980).”We are very clear that we are not signing the Hague Convention. This is a decision collectively arrived at by the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA),” said a senior WCD Ministry official.On June 22, 2016, the WCD Ministry had uploaded on its website a proposal to enact a draft of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Bill, 2016. Subsequently, the draft Bill was placed on the website seeking comments. The draft Bill was prepared following a reference made by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to the Law Commission of India and the WCD Ministry to examine the issue and consider whether recommendations should be made to enact a suitable law and for signing the Hague Convention. However, the Bill has since been removed from the Ministry website. The draft envisaged “prompt return of children wrongfully removed or retained in a contracting state, and to ensure that rights of custody and of access under the law of one contracting state are respected in other contracting states.”It also proposed a central authority to discover the whereabouts of a child, to prevent further harm to any such child and to secure the voluntary return of the child to the signatory nation. WCD Minister Maneka Gandhi has expressed apprehension over acceding to the Convention at several forums, primarily on two grounds — that taking such a decision will not be in the interest of aggrieved women and because the government maintains that there are fewer instances of Indian children being abducted and taken abroad. At an event last month she had said, “Personally, in the beginning, when I was new, I thought we should join the Convention because we get protection. But with time and after interacting with women who have been abandoned by their husbands abroad, had their passports snatched from them, been beaten up, and have somehow scraped the money and are in terrible fear, I wonder whether we should join or not.”

Kerala: Father, priest arrested for denying breast milk to newborn for 24 hours

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Kerala Police has arrested the father of a newborn for refusing to breastfeed the child for more than a day after birth. The priest who advised the parents to do this has also been reported ANI.A case was registered against parents of the newborn, who was born in EMS hospital in Mukkom in Kerala, The Times of India reported. The police had filed a case against the mother, Afsath and the father, Aboobacker for not providing the child’s basic rights. Aboobacker had stopped his wife from breastfeeding his child saying that a preacher had told him not to feed the baby until the fifth Azan call after the child’s birth. The hospital then made a police complaint. The police has filed a complaint against the parents under sections 75 (whoever, having the actual charge of, or control over, a child, assaults, abandons, abuses, exposes or wilfully neglects the child or causes mental or physical suffering) and section 87 (abetting any offence) of the Juvenile Justice Act. The Ithihadu Subbanil Mujahideen (ISM), youth wing of the Kerala Nadvathul Mujahideen (Makazu Dawa), will protest against the spiritual leader who doled out the advice to deny breast milk to the baby. ISM’s state president Jabir Amani said,”We have planned a meeting as mark of protest against all superstitions.”

India lost 2.55 crore girls in two decades to infanticide: Report

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi put girls at the centre stage at Haryana’s Golden Jubilee functions, pledging to save the girl child, comes a report revealing that India has lost 2.55 crore girls in the last two decades to female foeticide.In other words, between 1991 and 2011, the country has been losing an average of over 13 lakh girls every year to infanticide owing to sex-determination tests. In comparison, the conviction rate in the cases of sex selection filed under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, was 1 in 1,23,755. These are some of the findings of a report on the Act to be released Thursday (today) by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR).The study, ‘The State of the PC&PNDT Act: India’s losing battle against female foeticide’, further reveals that between 1994 and 2014, only 2,266 cases of infanticide under Sections 315 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), and 2,021 cases under the PCPNDT Act were filed. Between 1994 and 2014, only one in 12,614 cases were filed under the PCPNDT Act. Of these, there were convictions in only 206 cases, implying that the conviction rate was one in 1,23,755 cases. In 17 states and six Union Territories, not a single case was registered under the PCPNDT Act.Of the 1,663 cases of foeticide registered between 2000 and 2015, as per NCRB data, Madhya Pradesh topped with 360 cases, followed by Rajasthan (255), Punjab (239), Maharashtra (155), Chhattisgarh (135) and Haryana (131).The PCNPDT Act is one of the key Acts the Centre has promoted since it came to power. Yet, in a review meeting held a year after the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme was launched, 42 of the worst districts saw a decline in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR) . Of these, Dibang Valley (Arunachal Pradesh), Lakshadweep and Yanam (Puducherry), saw a steep decline in CSR of more than 200 points.The report also says that the government under-reports the number of missing girls. It cites a report, ‘Children in India 2012 — A Statistical Appraisal’, to quote that increasingly declining sex ratio “led to the missing of nearly 3 million girl children compared to 2 million missing boy children in 2011, compared to 2001.””This is wrong on two counts. First, it does not take into account that the decadal growth of population – from 1.028 billion in 2001 to 1.21 billion in 2011 – which would have resulted in the birth of more girls between 2001 and 2011 in actual terms. Second, the Census is conducted every 10 years and the CSR covering 0-6 years of age excludes those in the 7-10 years of age group and indeed does not reflect the actual number of missing girls during the decade,” says the report.The failure to implement the PCPNDT Act, the report states, is due to various factors. They include under-utilisation of funds, non-renewal of registration, non-maintenance of patient details, absence of regular inspection, lack of mapping and tracking of equipment. The report states that, as per the CAG report on the Act, under-utilisation of funds led to the allocation of only Rs 7.09 crore (35%) under the projected requirement of Rs 20.26 crore during 2010-14.The CAG report also revealed that in Uttar Pradesh, the inspection of 100 ultrasound clinics revealed that 1,326 cases (68%) did not have registered medical practitioners, while the details of the procedure were not mentioned in 1,110 cases (57%).

KC Venugopal writes to PM Modi to ‘check’ Maneka Gandhi’s ‘unjustifiable, rigid stand’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress MP and former Union Minister KC Venugopal urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to “check” the “unjustifiable and rigid stand” taken by his cabinet colleague Maneka Gandhi in dealing with the growing stray dog menace in Kerala. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the Alappuzha MP criticised the Union Women and Child Development Minister, who is stalling Kerala government’s move to kill “dangerous stray dogs, which create threat to the life of common people” calling it as “unlawful and unscientific”.A day after a 90-year-old man was killed in stray dog attack in the state, he urged the PM to “clarify” the stand of the Union government in the matter. He asked whether the Union government values human life or the dangerous animals which threatens humans. “I would request the government to clarify the stand of the central government in this issue and remove all confusions in this regard. The public in Kerala is in anger and they need a solution in this matter as soon as possible.”Venugopal said Maneka Gandhi has stated that Kerala Anti-Social (Prevention) Act (KAPA) should be used against those who kill stray dogs, “which has drawn wide criticism in the state where stray dogs have become a major menace.” “I would also request the Prime Minister to take a favourable stand in this matter and to check the unjustifiable and rigid stand taken by the union Minister of Women and Child development,” the letter said.He said repeated incidents of stray dog attacks in Kerala have created “utter panic and apprehension” among the people in the state. “The attack by dangerous stray dogs has been happening on a daily basis in various parts of the state.There are reported incidents of stray dogs’ attacks on infants, children, old age people and pets,” he said. He said following repeated stray dog attacks, there is strong demand from the public in the state to kill dangerous stray dogs.

Ban children from dangerous religious rituals, says child protection commission | Reuters

Ban children from dangerous religious rituals, says child protection commission | Reuters

Updated: Oct 26, 2016 20:57 IST


By Anuradha Nagaraj

CHENNAI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – India’s child protection agency has appealed to parents not to let children take part in religious rituals that could be dangerous, following a teenager’s death after a 68-day fast.The appeal follows public outcry over the death of 13-year-old Aradhana Samdhariya from the minority Jain community in the southern city of Hyderabad.Samdhariya died due to cardiac arrest on Oct. 3, a day after her family held a procession in which she rode on a chariot dressed in bridal finery to celebrate the end of the ritual of surviving only on water.”We are appealing to all communities to ensure that they do not adopt customs and rituals like fasting or self flagellation that will harm their children,” Stuti Kacker, chair of the National Commission for the Protection of Child’s Rights, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.”There is an urgent need to change mindsets.” The commission has drawn up a plan to raise awareness about religious rituals that it says children shouldn’t be involved in for their own safety. These range from self-flagellation and festivals in which tongues, cheeks and skin are pierced to walking on embers and child marriage.

Kacker said spiritual leaders would be called upon to help make sure such incidents don’t happen again.Child rights activists have called for the arrest of Samdhariya’s parents on charges of murder, saying they likely coerced her into participating in the fast.Her parents, devoted followers of Jainism, a religion that celebrates acts of renunciation, have denied they forced her to fast during the holy period of Chaumasa, observed from July.”The parents should have known better,” said Achyuta Rao of child rights charity Balala Hakkula Sangham, which filed a police complaint.

“In cases of hunger strike also, the police shift people to hospitals after a few days to make sure they don’t die. This was just a 13-year-old girl. How can parents get away by saying the fast was voluntary?”The Communist Party of India has also written to the Supreme Court, asking them to “take appropriate measures to stop this absurd orthodoxy”.Police have registered a case of culpable homicide against the parents. They are also seeking legal advice on whether to arrest them given that the body has been cremated without a postmortem.

“Her parents are in deep sorrow. No parent wishes this on their child,” said Lalit Gandhi, president of the All India Jain Minority Cell.”Many of our children go on short fasts of 10 to 20 days. It is a normal ritual. This incident was very unfortunate but certainly not intentional.”Gandhi added that the incident has started a debate within the community on whether children should be allowed to go on fasts at all. “We are discussing it with our spiritual leaders,” he said. (Reporting by Anuradha Nagaraj; editing by Timothy Large; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking and climate change. Visit

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

PMO silence signals no ordinance in Maternity Bill

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Three months after the Ministry of Labour asked the PMO to approve an ordinance with the provisions of the Maternity Benefits Bill, 2015, to benefit pregnant women between the passage of the bill in both the houses of the Parliament, the PMO is yet to respond. With just a month to go before the start of the winter session of the Parliament, it is unlikely that the government pass the ordinance.When the bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha in August, the Ministry of Labour wrote to the PMO asking for an ordinance that would benefit women who are already pregnant. The idea was to help as many women as possible, and the idea was initially mooted by Maneka Gandhi, Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development.The Parliament session starts in a month and without any reply, it looks like the ordinance will not come in place. “We had written to the PMO in August, and are still awaiting for any comments or confirmation,” said a labour ministry official.This year alone, there have been five instances of the government passing ordinances, including four in The Enemy Property Act, and one in the The Dentists (Amendment) Act. In 2015, there were 12 ordinances, including three in The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Act, and two in the The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Act. There were also ordinances in the Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Act in 2015 and 2014. There were six ordinances in 2014.Ordinances have a validity of six months, and after it lapses, the government needs to promulgate for a fresh one. If an ordinance has been issued in a particular bill, and it is not passed in the succeeding session of the Parliament within four weeks, it lapses.The government’s stand is baffling, considering the number of ordinances it has okayed till it came to power in 2014.The bill, drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was introduced in the Rajya Sabha by the Union Minister of Labour and Employment, Bandaru Dattatreya. It proposes to increase the existing maternity leave benefit of 12 weeks to 26 weeks. It also seeks to increase the mandatory minimum time of six weeks of pregnancy to eight weeks to avail the benefits of the bill.Apart from that, benefits of 12 weeks of maternity leave will be extended to adoptive and commissioning mothers. The option to work from home and crèche facilities are other provisions that the bill proposes.However, the bill will benefit only 18 lakh women in the organised sector, leaving out over the 96% of women engaged in the unorganised sector. Also, in the case of women with two or more children, the benefits will continue to be 12 weeks, and the benefits cannot be availed before six weeks from the date of the expected delivery.

Anti-trafficking legislation to be introduced in Winter Session of the Parliament: Maneka Gandhi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union minister Maneka Gandhi said on Monday the government will soon bring an anti-trafficking legislation for the rescue and reintegration of trafficked persons, besides making distinction between trafficked and traffickers. “The Government will soon bring anti-trafficking legislation into the Parliament, the draft of which is ready,” Gandhi said while addressing the Regional Editors’ Conference organised by the Press Information Bureau in Chandigarh on Monday.The minister said Centre will try to introduce the bill in the Winter Session of the Parliament. “It will cover rescue, relief and reintegration of trafficked persons, and for the first time will make a distinction between those trafficked and the traffickers,” she said.Highlighting the steps being taken by the Centre for the safety and protection of women and children, she said the Ministry of Women and Child has launched POCSO e-Box, a simple and easy facility to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment. “81 complaints have already been received on this e-Box,” the Union minister of Women & Child Development said.In another important initiative to track missing children, the Minister said, the ‘Khoya Paya’ portal has already reported nearly 6,000 cases of missing/sighted children since its launch last year. Runaway/missing children are also being helped under Special Operating Procedures developed in association with Railways, she added. “13,000 children have already been helped under this initiative and posters are being pasted in all railway coaches to report children in distress,” Gandhi said.Some of the other initiatives of the Modi government include decision to install panic buttons on all cell phones for women in distress from January 1, 2017, setting up of nearly 170 ‘One Stop Centres’ by March 2017 for women affected by violence, ‘Beti bachao Beti Padhao’ programme to reverse the declining child sex ratio, 33% reservation for women in police force, and setting up a large Home for 1000 widows in Vrindavan, said Gandhi.The Minister said that guidelines for matrimonial websites are being implemented to prevent their misuse. An online portal ‘Mahil e-Haat’ for women to sell their products has been set up on which business worth nearly Rs 6 lakh was transacted in the first six months itself. “Women sarpanches are being trained to empower them to administer the villages professionally,” she said.The minister further said the government is now working to revamp the ‘Anganwadi’ system in which nutrition is being administered to children and pregnant women. “To ensure healthy children, the Government is now working for six months’ mandatory maternity leave for working women for which the Ministry of Labour and Employment has moved to introduce amendments in the Act,” the Union minister said.

Draft Anti-Trafficking Bill not a ‘single comprehensive act’, will apply alongside 12 other laws

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Draft Anti-Trafficking Bill may have been dubbed as a “comprehensive” legislation when it was launched earlier this year but activists say an umbrella law for this offence is not possible in the Indian context. Final touches are being given to the draft bill before it is sent to the Cabinet. The government is holding discussions with NGOs on the proposed bill aimed at addressing various aspects of human trafficking.At the unveiling of the draft bill on May 30, the then Secretary of Women and Child Development V Somasundaran had said, “Trafficking is the third largest organised crime and time has now come to deal with it through a single comprehensive act.” However, the proposed legislation to curb trafficking is not a “single comprehensive act” as it was initially tipped to be.Activists say it will apply alongside at least 12 other laws which have provisions to deal with different kinds of trafficking. These include Immoral Trafficking of Persons Act, IPC Section 176(a) and 363-374, CRPC, Juvenile Justice Act, Child Labour Act, Bonded Labour Abolition Act, Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Prevention of Child Sexual Offences, IT Act, Transplantation of Human Organs Act, Inter-state Migrant’s Workmen Act, among others.The activists say subsequent drafts have in fact corrected what was a flawed approach of having a composite law, which would address different kinds of trafficking within its ambit.”The previous drafts have brought out one prominent failure in the entire exercise, namely carving out a single, comprehensive law seeking to address the essence of human trafficking with or without addressing each of the destination crimes of human trafficking,” according to Pravin Patkar of Prerana.He also says several laws that currently deal with different aspects of human trafficking are adequate and, therefore, what is needed is to merely fill the gaps that exist. “Most of the existing separate laws dealing with the known destination crimes of human trafficking (e.g., sex trade, sweatshops, beggary rackets, human organ trade, exploitation of children in the labour sector, bonded labour) are, by and large, adequate. “… Bringing all of the laws together under one law will only be possible by physically pinning the pages of the distinct laws together with a single cover page. It will not be a new organic identity,” says Patkar.NGO Prajwala’s Sunitha Krishnan, who is part of a committee formed to frame a new law on trafficking, too says it is not possible to have an umbrella law for this offence. “You can’t have a comprehensive law because there are existing legislations. The idea is to have provisions in the new law that are missing in other existing laws. At the same time the new law should be read along with existing laws.” The proposed legislation defines “trafficking of person” as per Section 370 of Indian Penal Code, 1860, which is, “Whoever, for the purpose of exploitation, (a) recruits, (b) transports, (c) harbours, (d) transfers, or (e) receives, a person or persons commits the offence of trafficking.” The draft bill also clubs together different forms of trafficking under the category of “aggravated trafficking”, with punishment of up to life imprisonment. This category includes bonded labour, trafficking for the purpose of bearing a child, trafficking for the purpose of marriage, trafficking for begging, trafficking of a pregnant woman or resulting into pregnancy, among others.The draft also seeks to create a National Anti-Trafficking Bureau for preventing, investigating and protecting cases or victims of trafficking.

13-year-old Jain girl fasts unto death, parents believe she died a ‘tapaswini’

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Laxmichand Samdariya’s flourishing gold business in the Pot Bazar area of Secunderabad, according to his family priest, depended only on one thing: his 13-year-old daughter Aradhana’s fast.Laxmichand believed in this ritual of making his daughter observe fast during the holy period of Chaumasa (July to October) for the Jains to bring good fortunes to the family. Last year, Aradhana skipped her school to fast for 28 consecutive days.This year, after a 68-day-old fast, Aradhana died before she could even be taken to the hospital. Doctors said starvation and dehydration could be the reasons. On October 1, when a visibly frail Aradhana ended her fast, there were celebrations all over her house. She was dressed up as a queen, made to wear jewellery and the women in the house danced around her.The celebrations ended soon. Aradhana’s condition deteriorated and she died two days later. Achyuta Rao, honorary president, Hakkula Sangam (Child Rights Association), who filed a complaint with the police and sought an inquiry into the case, told dna that even after Aradhana’s death, there is no sign of remorse on her parent’s faces.”They believe she died a tapaswini (female ascetic). This is plain murder. She was made to starve for so many days. She could only drink water from sunset to sunrise and did not eat for 68 days,” Rao added.Rao has already written a letter to the Hyderabad police commissioner and demanded the immediate arrest of Aradhana’s parents. “Aradhana has a younger sister, too. We fear for her life,” he said.Although the police are yet to lodge an FIR, additional deputy commissioner, Hyderabad (North), D Yadagiri, told dna that a statement of the parents has been recorded. “Her parents are denying that they asked her to undertake a 68-day-old fast. They said that she was asked to fast only for 38 days. And that she voluntarily observed the fast,” Yadagiri said.

Hyderabad: 13-year-old girl dies after 68 days of fasting

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 13-year-old girl from Hyderabad died last week after fasting for 68 days for the Jain holy period called Chaumasa, reported NDTV.The girl, Aradhana, was admitted to a hospital two days after she finished her fast of 68 days due to a cardiac arrest. Her funeral was celebrated and called ‘shobha yatra’ — a mark of celebration— which was attended by 600 people.A member of the community, Lata Jain said, “It has been a practice for people to undertake severe penance when they give up even food and water. They are glorified, lauded and honoured at community meetings by the religious elders. They are also showered with gifts. But in this case it was a minor and that is my objection.”The class 8 student was allowed to give up school so she could fast. Her grandfather Manekchand Samdhariya said that it was known that Aradhana was fasting, “Everyone knew Aradhana was fasting. They came and took selfies with her,” he added. People known to the family have said that the girl had earlier undertaken a fast of 41 days. Politicians like Telangana minister Padma Rao Goud, Zaheerabad MP BB Patil were present at grand event for the completion of fasting which is called ‘Paarana’. Child rights activist Shanta Sinha has said that a police complaint must be filed and that the child rights commission must take cognisance.

Unable to bear expenses, Tripura tribal couple sell daughter for Rs.650

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>In what highlights the sorry state of affairs in the backward areas of Tripura, a tribal couple in remote Dhalai district sold their girl child as they were unable to bear the expenses of the infant.The family belongs to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) category. A report published in a local paper said the child was sold for Rs. 650.Expressing grave concern over the incident, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Sudip Roy Barman said that the tribal sections are living mainly in the interior areas and are dying due to lack of food, and added that these incidents are hardly flashed by the media as the government cover them up.Barman said that there was an incident in Gandacherra area day before yesterday where a child was sold, adding a child was sold by the parents earlier in Kamalpur area in the same district.He said that the poverty ridden couple had sold the girl child to earn their livelihood.”A child was sold by the parents to earn their livelihood and this is a sorry state of affairs. Though the parents have been arrested, the kid hasn’t yet been recovered. The people are dying because of poverty. This government is in such a callous mood that they are least bothered, rather they are busy trying to suppress these facts and figures,” Barman said.According to an official report on September 18 last, a two-year old girl child was handed-over by her parents Harita Tripura (mother) and Charan Tripura (step father) to one Rita Chakma.This incident comes just days after another tribal couple from Gandachera subdivision of Dhalai district had sold their child.Sub-divisional Magistrate (SDM) Gandachera Bhaskar Das Gupta said, “The child was handed-over with mutual consent and on humanitarian ground for education purpose.”The SDM had met the tribal couple along with Jhutan Jamatia, the officer-in-charge of local police station, and inquired about the incident.He added that the child was traced and recovered from Abhoynagar area of Agartala, around 180 km from the village and handed over to her parents.It may be recalled that a similar incident was reported from Khowai district’s Munda Basti ADC (Autonomous District Council) village in the month of July last year where a tribal couple said that they were compelled to sell their newly-born child for Rs. 4,500 as they were unable to bear the cost of the kid.

Not JKing: Chetan Bhagat’s upcoming book is already 20 times more popular than new Harry Potter

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Breaking all records in Amazon’s pre-order history, bestselling author Chetan Bhagat’s latest fiction “One Indian Girl” is now the leading title on pre-orders, the site has ever witnessed. “Launched under the exclusive online partnership between Amazon and Rupa Publishing, the pre-orders went live on Amazon at 2 pm on Friday and in just the first two hours, it has created history by becoming the leading title on pre-orders, the site has witnessed since its launch in 2013,” the online shopping site said in a statement. The banker-turned-writer who shot to fame with his debut novel, ‘Five Point Someone’ took to Twitter on Friday to announce the title of the book.The book which comes after five fictions by the author revolves around an “Indian girl who is intelligent and successful, because of which she finds it difficult to get love.” Bhagat, who is believed to have pioneered the genre of ‘campus novels’ in the country wishes to question the discrimination meted out to women by the society through his latest narrative, which unlike his previous works is in “female first person.””It (book) hopes to question society, which judges women achievers. It asks why when it comes to love, being intelligent and too successful is almost a drawback for women,” the 42-year-old writes on his blog. He also unveiled the teaser for the book on Friday which can be viewed on YouTube.”Hi, I’m Radhika Mehta and I’m getting married this week. I work in a top investment bank. Thank you for reading my crazy story. However, let me warn you. You may not like me too much. One, I make a lot of money. Two, I have an opinion on everything. Three, I have had sex before. Now, if I were a guy, you’d be cool with all this. Since I am a girl, these things don’t really make me too likeable, do they?” says the teaser. The title, which is set to hit stands on October 1, also surpassed the biggest release of the year so far, ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ with selling 20 times the former on the first day of pre-order.”‘One Indian Girl’ beat ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’s’ Day 1 pre-order number within 30 minutes of going live on the platform,” Amazon said. According to Bhagat, he wrote from a feminist point of view because he wanted to get into a woman’s head and unravel the mystery as he, “often found them mysterious, particularly in the way they think.””I felt it would be interesting to get in their head. I wrote on feminism because it isn’t an equal world for women, and most don’t realise it. As a writer, I want to highlight issues in society that affect a lot of people. Feminism affects us all,” he writes on the blog. The author says that he has been wanting to write in female first person for quite some time now but managed to execute it only after a decade of being an author because it was a “huge challenge.””I wanted that book to be about women, and deal with feminism. To do all this as a male writer was a huge challenge. After writing for over a decade, I finally attempted ‘One Indian Girl’,” he says. He has previously authored seven books (5 fiction and 2 non-fiction) and his last book, ‘Half-Girlfriend’ is being adapted into a film of the same name starring Bollywood actors Arjun Kapoor and Shraddha Kapoor.The author has been actively tweeting developments about the Mohit-Suri directed underproduction film scheduled to release next year. Bhagat’s novels ‘Five Point Someone’, ‘One Night @ the Call Center’, ‘The 3 Mistakes of My Life’ and ‘2 States: The Story of My Marriage’ have all been previously adapted for Bollywood.

Girl power

India launches a social media campaign to celebrate daughters, daughters-in-law and granddaughters – asking people to celebrate the young women and girls in their lives.

Jaipur: Woman tattooed with abuses, raped by husband, his brothers; Maneka asks NCW to probe

In a shocking incident, a 30-year-old woman was allegedly raped by her husband and his two brothers who tattooed expletives on her forehead and hand after her family could not fulfill their dowry demand in Alwar district, the police said today.Expressing shock over the incident, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi asked the National Commission for Women (NCW) to probe the matter.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am deeply shocked and pained over this incident. Have asked NCW to look into this matter immediately,” the Minister tweeted.NCW chairperson Lalitha Kumaramangalam separately said the body has taken suo motu cognisance and will conduct an inquiry.The police said the victim was married to Jagannath in Reni village. She alleged that since her marriage in January last year, her husband and in-laws used to beat her up and demand dowry of Rs 51,000. they said.”Her husband and brothers-in-law allegedly raped her and tattooed profanities on her forehead which her parents later made an attempt to get removed,” a police official said.An FIR has been registered under sections of 498-A (Protection of Women Against Domestic Violence Act), 376 (punishment for rape)and 406 (punishment for criminal breach of trust) of IPC and an investigation in the case has been initiated, he said.Later, the police recorded her statement but no arrest has been made so far.

Large number of people participate in a run against drugs

On the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse, around 4,000 people on June 26, participated in a run to create awareness against drug abuse.Participants, including Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot and Delhi Women and Child Development Minister Sandeep Kumar, also took pledge on the occasion, officials said.More than 4,000 participants gathered at India Gate for the noble cause to spread the message – “Think Health Not Drugs”. Delhi’s Women and Child Development Minister Sandeep Kumar motivated the Delhiites to participate in the run for making Delhi drug free. He emphasised that abuse of drugs lead to liver damage, memory/hearing loss, depression, cancer and risk of untimely death.

Two ‘godmen’ arrested for torturing 28 boys at Mumbai house

Mumbai police have arrested two persons for allegedly torturing 28 children and holding them captive in a house in the western suburb of Kandivli.”Two persons, self-claimed `maharaj’ (godmen), have been taken into custody for illegally detaining 28 children, all from outside Maharashtra, in a building in Samtanagar area of Kandivli,” DCP Kiran Chavan told PTI.The bungalow is located in Thakur Village and was covered by green cloth from outside, the officer said. The boys were brought to Mumbai three months ago under some pretext and held captive against their will, the police officer said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”They were made to chant mantras and beaten up. Some were made to stand on one leg for 16 to 20 hours at a stretch. One of the boys called up his parents and narrated the sordid tale,” Chavan said. The boys hail from Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Chhattisgarh, and were rescued yesterday, he said.A case has been filed under provisions of the Child Labour Act and sections 420 (cheating), 370 (buying a person as a slave), 323 and 324 (assault) of IPC.

New Delhi: Superintendent of children’s home arrested for raping girl inmates

The superintendent at a children’s home in Lajpat Nagar has been arrested after girl inmates of the facility levelled charges of rape against him.”The superintendent of children home in Lajpat Nagar Ram Sahay Meena was arrested on a complaint received through Delhi government official last evening,” a senior police officer said.Meena was sacked along with another staff of the facility on the orders of Delhi Women and Child Welfare Minister Sandip Kumar.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Some girl inmates revealed that they were molested and raped by Meena. They were sent for medical examination and rape was confirmed in a few cases,” the officer said.The Police added Section 376(2)(b) of the IPC (taking advantage of official position and committing rape on a woman) in the FIR registered against Meena, for allegedly taking advantage of his official position and committing rape on the girls in his custody, he said.The incident had come to light after Kumar’s visit to the home and his meeting with the girls on June 3.After consulting the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), the minister had asked them to lodge a complaint against the superintendent under the provisions of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.The minister had ordered termination of Meena and a woman welfare officer who was also allegedly involved in misbehaving with the girls.During his visit, Kumar was apprised that the agitated children had protested against misbehaviour after which he had directed the women staff to talk to them.It was reported to the minister that the superintendent had allegedly taken minor girls to an isolated room and tried to physically abuse them.Police said they are also questioning two more staff members of the facility who are likely to be arrested.

Can have law on marital rape but women won’t complain: Maneka Gandhi

Months after her statement that “concept of marital rape cannot be applied in the Indian context” created some controversy, Union minister Maneka Gandhi on Tuesday said even if there was a law against it, women are unlikely to complain about this kind of abuse. The Minister for Women and Child Development said women could instead file complaint of marital rape under the existing Domestic Violence law. “We have a law already on violence against women and that includes marital rape. The point is that there has never been a complaint under it, never…We can use domestic violence (law) and then build on it but at the moment there is not even one complaint,” she told an All Women Journalists’ Warkshop at Vigyan Bhawan. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”A lot of women who feel very angry with their husbands and hate them, would really want them to be finished and still have two children and they think about them and they take a decision appropriately…I can have a law on marital rape but it will make no difference because no one will complain,” she said. She had earlier courted controversy saying, “The concept of marital rape, as understood internationally, cannot be suitably applied in the Indian context due to…mindset of the society to treat marriage as a sacrament, etc.” The workshop seen participation of over 250 journalists from 30 states and Union Territories across the country, representing 120 media organisations. Maneka made a presentation on the issues taken up by the Women and Child Development Ministry in the past two years. She highlighted the numerous ‘firsts’ of the Ministry like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, setting up of One Stop Centres for women in distress, Mahila e-Haat, panic button on mobile phones, guidelines for matrimonial websites, 33 per cent reservation for women in police force among others.

Three booked for child marriage in Thane

Three persons including the mother of a minor girl and a priest have been booked for child marriage, police said on Wednesday.The offence was registered under sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Prevention of Child Marriages Act last night by the Khadakpada Police under Kalyan division following a complaint by the girl’s father Sanjay Sitaram Patil.According to Sitaram, on May 29, the mother Vandana Patil (40) and the unidentified priest got the 16-year-old girl married to Kailas Adhikari in the presence of their relatives in Khinavali of Shahapur despite knowing that the victim was a minor. The Khadakpada police registered the offence under “00” category and then forwarded to Khinavali police station for further action.

Draft rules of Juvenile Justice Act could be used in Mercedes hit-and-run case

The draft rules of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015, could be used in the trial of the Mercedes hit-and-run case which had claimed the life of a marketing executive in April in Delhi, if they are adopted by the government in the coming days. The rules were released by Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi on Wednesday.The case was highlighted as the accused teenager who was short of 18 years, had allegedly driven his father’s Mercedes over 32-year-old Siddharth Sharma on April 4.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The draft rules have been placed on the ministry’s website for the next few days for inviting suggestions and comments from stakeholders including non-government organisation, individuals, state government/union territory administrations and ministries concerned before being finalised. The draft rules repeal the Model Rules, 2007, and are based on the philosophy that children need to be reformed and reintegrated into the society.
ALSO READ Rehabilitative approach key element in juvenile draft rules”The states’ governments, may, if they wish, adopt or adapt these rules as per their requirements,” a senior ministry official said.The rules of JJ Act, 2015, were framed by a multi-disciplinary committee comprising senior judge and advocates, members of JJBs and Child Welfare Committee, representatives of state governments, mental health expert and civil society organisations working in the field of child protection.
ALSO READ Delhi hit-and-run case: Juvenile Justice Board rejects accused’s bail plea, slams parents for incidentThe JJ Act came into force in January following a huge uproar over increasing number of crimes committed by persons under the age of 18.

What is the procedure for admission under sports quota: HC asks Delhi University

Delhi High Court on Monday directed the Delhi University (DU) to apprise it about the procedure followed by the varsity in the admission process of students applying under sports quota.A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath said this while hearing a petition seeking a direction to DU to centralise the admission process in sports quota and also for devising a mechanism for coordination between colleges in this regard.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”You (DU) file an affidavit and tell us about the procedure followed by DU as on today. We will consider it,” the bench told the lawyer appearing for the university.The counsel sought time to file an affidavit after which the bench posted the matter for hearing on August 17.The petition, filed by NGO Child Health Organisation, sought a direction to the DU to “make the admission through sports quota more streamlined and centralised so that all the applicant get equal opportunity” of getting admission.It alleged that rules regarding admission process of students applying under sports quota were “flawed” and there was no coordination between the colleges about the trials.”An individual seeking admission cannot attend two trials at the same time and on same date at different colleges. This plays a pivotal role in jeopardising the future plan of the meritorious students/players,” the plea claimed adding that tests for various colleges for same sports were scheduled for same day and almost same time.It sought a direction to the DU to amend the guidelines for students seeking admission under sports quota.The plea also sought a direction to the DU “to devise a mechanism for coordination between colleges to have coordinated trial procedure among themselves so that every student is able to try for every college.”

Goa MLA rape case: Court reserves order on Atanasio Monserratte’s bail plea till May 18

A local court on Monday extended by two days the police custody of Goa legislator Atanasio Monserratte who has been accused of buying and raping a minor girl and reserved until Wednesday its order on his bail application. In his bail plea, the expelled Congress MLA said the charge of rape against him is a “fertile imagination of investigating officer”.Principal District and Sessions judge Pramod Kamat, who heard the arguments from defence and prosecution through the day in a packed courtroom, reserved the order on the bail plea for May 18. Goa police is investigating the case against Monserratte who has been booked for buying the girl for Rs 50 lakh and raping her in March.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He was booked under IPC sections 376 (rape), 328 (poisoning), 342 (wrongful confinement), 370 (A) (trafficking), provisions of Goa Children Act and Protection of Children From Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. The MLA’s counsel Rajiv Gomes argued against slapping of section 370 of IPC and section 8(2) of Goa Children’s Act in the FIR against the MLA. Referring to the statement recorded by the girl, Gomes said there was no sexual assault in this case as the girl never claimed or disclosed about it in her complaint. “The investigation officer should have had facts on record before applying the section of rape against the accused. The application of such a grave section shows the fertile imagination of investigating officer,” Gomes told the court.He also challenged the arrest of Monserratte on May 5, the day he appeared before police, by an officer who was not investigating the case. Gomes said the arrest was executed by police inspector Dattaguru Sawant though the case was investigated by Sawant’s colleague Sudiksha Naik. The investigation was conducted at the behest of political opponents of the accused, he stated. The defence counsel further said that by charging the MLA with rape, police were making the girl as a “rape victim” and are “tarnishing her image”.”The girl has mentioned in the complaint that she was offered spiked drink by a maid servant but the police have accused Monserratte of drugging her, which contradicts the girl’s statement,” the counsel said. Advocate Damodar Dhond, representing the mother of the girl and another accused Rosy Ferros who have also sought bail, claimed discrepancies in the statements of the girl recorded before the Child Welfare Committee.

Two detained in connection with murder of student in Kota

Two minors were detained on Saturday in connection with the alleged murder of a 19-year-old boy by a group of students in a student mess here, police said. “The two minors involved in the murder have been detained whereas the other accused are still at large and efforts are on to nab them,” Mahaveernagar police station circle incharge Kaluram Verma said. The duo would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), he said. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Satyarth alias Satya Prakesh, a resident of Nabada district in Bihar was attacked by nearly 20-25 students while he was having dinner in a mess. Satyarth died on the spot while another coaching student from Bihar Sandeep Kumar (18), also sustained knife wounds in the attack. Those detained are taking coaching in institutes here, Verrma said. The body of Satyarth meanwhile was handed over to his family after post-mortem and his last rites were carried out in Kishorepura cremation ground, he said. The family members accused the coaching centres of being careless and irresponsible. “They did not even inform us of the tragedy and were continuously making calls for fees. Kota is now no longer a safe place for the coaching students,” one of Satyarth’s relatives said. Yesterday, Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Prasad Yadav expressed concern over the incident. In a letter to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, he requested her to take cognisance of the incident and make sure that the culprits are nabbed soon.

SAIEVAC meeting historic, collective action to promote child rights: Maneka Gandhi

Union Minister of Women and Child Development (WCD), Maneka Gandhi said that the 4th SAARC ministerial meeting is notable and in a way historic since it is the first where South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) takes stock of 5 years of work by national governments working in official partnership for the safety and security of children of the region.The WCD Minister hoped that the meeting will not only take the next step of assessing the challenges of our present time, and adopting decisions that will guide our next five years, but will also become an instrument of change.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gandhi highlighted the important new initiatives of the Indian Government as a part of affirmative action for protection of children like the ‘Beti bachao beti Padhao’ Scheme, Juvenile Justice (care and protection) Act, 2015, launch of ‘Khoya-Paya’; a Citizen based ICT platform to report missing and found children, extension of Childline to 402 locations across the country, Unique initiative with railways for runaway/trafficked children, inspection of Child Care Institutions, adoption reforms, introduction of Foster care among others.Gandhi also outlined the steps taken under the important ongoing schemes/initiatives and by institutions like POCSO, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, New National Policy for Children, Integrated Child Protection Scheme, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan, and efforts to check child labour, efforts to prevent child marriages among others.She specially highlighted the new ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, launched under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi which has now become one of the flagship programs of the Government.The program was launched to ensure survival, protection, education and empowerment of girl child and has become extremely successful, the Minister explained. She further added that it is an excellent example of how it is possible to achieve behavior change in a short period of time through concerted, collective and determined effort of various stakeholders.Today?s Ministerial Meeting of SAIEVAC was preceded by a two-day technical session and was attended by Ministers of Child/Social Affair Departments of concerned countries, Secretaries of concerned departments, senior officials and Civil Society Organizations of various SAARC Countries.The meeting saw a discussion on ways and means to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, review of progress of ten years of SAIEVAC and five-year work plan (2011-16), formulation of draft recommendations by the 6th Governing Board Meeting and Adoption of Agenda for the next five years. The SAIEVAC meeting was hosted by WCD Ministry of Government of India.

Now, minor girl in Bengaluru accuses dance teacher of sexual assault

A four-year-old girl was sexually assaulted allegedly by her summer camp dance teacher in Bengaluru, according to The New Indian Express. Cops have arrested the 22-year-old dance teacher who, according to the complaint, repeatedly assaulted the minor girl in several areas of a private school.

The incident came to light when her father noticed her bruises and the girl stated that her dance teacher had inflicted them, reported Bangalore Mirror. Her parents took her to a private hospital because she revealed that she was in pain. They later took her to the Baptist Hospital in Hebbal. Realising the seriousness of the incident, doctors alerted the police. Samples have been sent to a forensic laboratory, the victim’s father told Bangalore Mirror.

Representational image. ReutersRepresentational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Bengaluru incident is the latest in a series of incidents this week being reported from across the country where dance instructors are assaulting minor girls.

A nine-year-old girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by her dance teacher in a school in Kanpur’s Naubasta area, police said on Wednesday.

According to the complaint filed by the victim’s father, one Kishan Singh Rathore sexually assaulted the minor on Tuesday after calling her to his room on the pretext of teaching dance, they said.

An FIR was registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 following the complaint and the erring teacher has been arrested, police said, adding, the victim is undergoing medical examination.

The father had also complained to the director of the school after he got to know about the incident.

Police is interrogating the director of the school along with other staff members and investigation is on in the case.

In Puducherry, police arrested a 20-year-old youth for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl over seven months, according to The New Indian Express. The accused, identified as Kumaresan alias Mohan, was conducting dance classes in Irumbai. The victim and her 14-year-old brother used to attend the classes. Mohan allegedly first assaulted the victim when he visited her Govindasalai home when she was alone. She told her mother and brother about it but they refused to believe her and her brother forcibly took her to the accused’s house for continuing their classes. There Mohan allegedly assaulted her again.

The Times of India reported that the incidents came to light when a neighbour noticed cigarette burns on the victim’s hand. The victim revealed all to the neighbor who contacted the Child Welfare Committee. The CWC then approached the Grand Bazaar police who arrested him under the POCSO Act and also questioned her brother.

With inputs from PTI

Anganwadi workers misused for political meets, greeting VIPs: Maneka Gandhi

Anganwadi workers across the country have been “misused” for over four decades by making them work extra hours for even attending political meetings or greeting VIPs, which has been banned now, Women and Child Development minister Maneka Gandhi said on Thursday.During the Question Hour, members expressed concern over the remunerations paid to Anganwadi workers saying Rs 3000 to them and Rs 1500 for Anganwadi helpers was not at all adequate compensation for the work they do.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Minister said there were around 24 lakh Anganwadi workers, who were technically required to work only a few hours as it was not an 8-hour job. However, the “actual fact” is that over the 40 years of the programme, they have been “misused” and “not legally” asked to attend political meetings, greet VIPs or distribute pamphlets. “We have stopped all that,” Gandhi said.The WCD minister said while it is not possible for her to increase the remuneration especially with the 60:40 devolution of funds between Centre and State, the state governments pay additional money to them.Referring to UP which according to data provided by her pays Rs 200 as additional honorarium, Gandhi said they could ask states to pay more to Anganwadi workers.Gandhi also said the Centre was “trying to do other things which it can’t do in terms of money for Anganwadi workers” like providing a maternity leave of 180 days, insurance cover, awards, uniforms and also preference for the position of supervisor, which means a jump in their package. She said the Centre is planning to build one lakh Anganwadi centres per year so that all of them have pucca buildings.

Bombay HC allows US-based couple to adopt two children abandoned by mother

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has cleared the decks for adoption of two minor children, who were abandoned by their biological mother in 2012, by a US-based couple.

The children’s adoption was held up since 2013, as the biological mother, after initially abandoning them, sought their custody when the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) put the kids up for adoption by a Canada-based couple of Indian origin.

In 2014, the High Court stayed the adoption process and allowed the biological mother to take her children. But, when the mother failed to do so and did not even meet them after the High Court order, the CWC once again approached the HC and sought permission to allow adoption by another couple, who were based in the United States.

Bombay High Court. File photo. IBNLiveBombay High Court. File photo. IBNLive

Bombay High Court. File photo. IBNLive

Justice Gautam Patel, on 27 April, after perusing the facts of the case and interviewing the minor children— a boy aged nine and a girl aged seven—permitted the US-based couple to adopt them.

“I have before me today what I can only describe as an utterly heart-rending situation. There are two minors who have, for the better part of their childhood, been footballed between their birth mother, one agency, another agency, been once previously placed for adoption only to see that possible dream evaporate and have now been suggested for adoption again. Their bond with their mother, if it existed, was broken,” the court said.

“It is difficult to even begin to imagine the kind of trauma these young children must have suffered. After all, they were not abandoned at birth, but at the ages of five and three, when they must have had at least some degree of awareness,” Justice Patel noted.

“Sufficient liberty was given to the birth mother even at the cost of the welfare of the children, and certainly to the disappointment and trauma caused to the previous adoptive parents, who traveled frequently to India to bond with these children. She squandered that opportunity. I will not permit this to be repeated,” he said.

Watch: Childcare centre inmates ‘burnt’ with hot spoons as punishment

In a shocking incident, three minors of a state-run child care centre allegedly had their wrists burnt with a hot spoon by staff members for refusing to eat food.The incident, which took place on April 15 evening, came to light on Wednesday after local television channels flashed the CCTV footage showing the alleged torture at the ‘Shishu Gruha’.According to officials of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) Karimnagar who visited the centre and inspected the footage on Wednesday, Rajan (2), Geetha (5) and Swaroopa (5) were severely burnt with the hot spoon on their wrists by staff members Buchamma, Padma and Sharada, after the children allegedly refused to obey their orders to eat food that day.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>After the episode got highlighted, Karimnagar District collector Neetu Kumari on Wednesday ordered an inquiry into it. The move came after a member of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Hyderabad, Achyut Rao, issued a suo moto notice to enquire and initiate action against those responsible in the case.The collector also suspended manager Devaraj and caretaker Srilatha for lack of proper supervision after a visit to the shelter home this afternoon and directed officials to initiate a criminal case against the accused staff members.Meanwhile, Project Director Mohan Reddy of ICDS said initially, the care centre staff denied of having any knowledge (of the episode). “However, we went through the CCTV footage and came to know of this incident and severe action will be initiated.” Watch the video here:

Three minors at childcare centre ‘burnt’ with hot spoons as punishment, inquiry ordered

Karimnagar (Tel): In a shocking incident, three minors of a state-run child care centre in Karimnagar allegedly had their wrists burnt with a hot spoon by staff members for refusing to eat food.

The incident, which took place on 15 April evening, came to light on Thursday after local television channels flashed the CCTV footage showing the alleged torture at the ‘Shishu Gruha‘.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to officials of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) Karimnagar who visited the centre and inspected the footage on Thursday, Rajan (2), Geetha (5) and Swaroopa (5) were severely burnt with the hot spoon on their wrists by staff members Buchamma, Padma and Sharada, after the children allegedly refused to obey their orders to eat food that day.

After the episode got highlighted, Karimnagar District collector Neetu Kumari on Thursday ordered an inquiry into it.

The move came after a member of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Hyderabad, Achyut Rao, issued a suo moto notice to enquire and initiate action against those responsible in the case.

The collector also suspended manager Devaraj and caretaker Srilatha for lack of proper supervision after a visit to the shelter home this afternoon and directed officials to initiate a criminal case against the accused staff members.

Meanwhile, Project Director Mohan Reddy of ICDS said initially, the care centre staff denied of having any knowledge (of the episode).

“However, we went through the CCTV footage and came to know of this incident and severe action will be initiated.”

This art teacher wants to build first of its kind Art Resource Centre for the needy in Bangalore

For 52-year-old K. Venkatesh who lives in Bangalore, art has always calmed him unlike any other activity. Sculpting has been close to Venkatesh’s heart ever since he was a child. As he grew up, he became an engineer but never left his passion for making sculptures. Venkatesh never even thought to charge for his sculptures. He wanted to utilise his creativity for the underprivileged, therefore he founded Chandana Art Foundation International in 1999, a charitable organisation devoted to the preservation and promotion of art. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>“We promote art education for the visually impaired, healing art for the Tsunami victims. The uniqueness of our foundation is the art and crafts education for people with visual challenges and multiple disabilities which provides empowerment, confidence and sustenance,” said Venkatesh.His organisation has been promoting various forms of performing and visual arts, folk, tribal, traditional, architectural, art history, temple architecture, puppetry, research and documentation and also works majorly to promote children art. They organise various competitions to bring out the creativity of a child like on the spot painting and clay modelling.Apart from this, they have also established research institutions, art gallery, organised visual art workshops, seminars, and residency program for artists, scholars, and institutionalised awards, scholarships, orientation program.It has also been a platform to encourage Indian students who are interested in fine arts to participate in Fifth International Olympiad 2013-2016 organised by International Child Art Foundation – Washington DC. Venkatesh who was felicitated with ‘Best Vocational Art Teacher for the year 2005’ by the Government of Karnataka, Ministry of Women & Child Welfare is now planning to build an Art Resource Centre which would be a dedicated centre for children. The first of a kind resource centre in Bangalore will provide multimedia reference library to make invaluable materials easily accessible to the public, to artists and scholars, school drop-outs, giving them an opportunity to learn and create a national awareness about day to day events of the country.Venkatesh wants to raise funds to get borewell water facility for their resource centre.“There is no exclusive public art and culture library for the public in Bangalore. We want to build an art resource centre which will be accessible to anyone,” he added.

Mumbai school boy Kunaal Bhargava’s child labour project gets a national platform

It began as a school project, became a citywide campaign, and is now a national social media campaign aimed at getting communities to address child labour in India.Kunaal Bhargava, 17, a student at the American School in Mumbai, picked child labour for a classroom project. He approached Salaam Baalak Trust, a charity that works with street children, for help with material.The Mumbai police were so impressed with the poster campaign he created that it was adapted for billboards across the city earlier this year.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>This week, a citizen engagement platform LocalCircles, which connects its more than 1 million members in discussions on governance and other matters of public interest, created a discussion group on child labour to seek input on the issue.”Child labour is an issue I think about a lot, as these are kids as old as me, younger than me, working instead of going to school like me,” said Bhargava.”We encounter it every day, so getting the community involved is an effective way to check child labour,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.There are 5.7 million Indian child workers aged between five and 17, out of 168 million globally, according to the International Labour Organization.More than half are in agriculture, toiling in cotton, sugarcane and rice paddy fields, and over a quarter work in manufacturing, embroidering clothes, weaving carpets or making match sticks. Kids also work in restaurants and hotels, washing dishes and chopping vegetables, and in middle-class homes.The Indian government wants to amend a three-decade-old law which bans children under 14 from working in 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting, cement manufacture and hand looms.However, children who help their family or family businesses are permitted to work outside school hours, and those in entertainment or sports can also work, provided it does not affect their studies.Members of the LocalCircles group can, in addition to offering suggestions, post pictures and report instances of child labour that the police and NGOs can act on, said founder Sachin Taparia.”This platform is more effective than a hotline – how many people will actually remember the number or think to call when they see a child worker in a tea stall or begging on the street?” he said.”Whereas people are so comfortable taking pictures and posting on social media, and this facilitates that,” he said.Suggestions from the discussion group so far include stricter punishment for employers of child workers and training programmes for such children, so they can learn skills which could be used to earn an income when they are older.Poor reintegration of rescued child workers leaves them vulnerable to being trafficked and made to work again, a report by Harvard University’s FXB Center for Health and Human Rights said last month.The LocalCircles group for child labour is managed by the Indian Police Foundation, a think tank comprising police officials, bureaucrats and civil society leaders.Community policing has already played a role in fighting child labour and human trafficking, Taparia said, citing police raids on illegal brothels in Delhi and Gurgaon as a result of information given by members of LocalCircles discussion groups.”The police, the NGOs – we are all doing our bit to check child labour, and having citizens involved will only help create more awareness and rescue more child workers,” said Pravin Patil, a deputy commissioner of police in Mumbai.

‘Will reward schoolboys for behaving good with girls,’ Maneka Gandhi

Union Minister Maneka Gandhi on Friday said the government is planning to reward schoolboys who behave well with girls.Addressing a programme at Manav Rachna University in Surajkund here, Women and Child Development minister said the government is formulating a plan where schoolboys will be rewarded if they behave well with girls. The minister also said that a plan is being worked out to include an alarm button on mobile phones which will be help women to seek assistance from police in emergency situations.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gandhi said that girl students and women are being roped in to stop domestic violence. The university has been organising a range of activities like self-defence techniques and awareness programmes for women which will end on the International Women’s Day on March 8.

Women sex workers, HIV+ patients to get easy loans in Chattisgarh

The Chhattisgarh government has decided to provide loans to women HIV positive patients and sex workers at nominal rates to enable them to take up self-employment activities, a state official said.”To associate HIV positive women and female sex workers with economic activities, they would be provided with personal and group loans under the loan scheme of ‘Chhattisgarh Mahila Kosh’,” a public relation official here said today.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Under the scheme, these women would be provided personal loan of Rs 10,000 and group loan of Rs 1 lakh at nominal annual interest rate of 3%, he said.The state’s Women and Child Development department has issued a circular to all District Collectors and other concerned officials in this regard.As per the circular, women who are HIV-affected or involved in paid sex would be given loans, so as to help them take up economic activities for self-employment.This loan would be provided on the basis of the eligibility after the beneficiaries produce medical certificate issued by a government doctor, it said.The loans would be sanctioned after the proposal in this regard presented through District Manager of Chhattisgarh Mahila Kosh gets approved by the District Collector concerned, it said.The state’s Women and Child Development department has been running the Chhattisgarh Mahila Kosh loan scheme since 2003 to provide easy loans to women self-help groups.

Government mulls community service, skills training for juvenile offenders

Seeking to ensure that juvenile offenders grow up to become better citizens, the government has decided to involve them in community service and impart skills-based training to them.Through the initiative under the Juvenile Justice Act, the Women and Child Development Ministry aims to bring comprehensive reform in the framework for providing better care and protection to children in conflict with the law.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The plan was mooted amid reports of radicalisation of the juvenile convict in the December 16 gangrape case. “They (juvenile offenders) will be encouraged to do some kind of community service. It is already provided as one of the options under the Juvenile Justice Act. This can be done by placing them in some public institution. They will be also given some kind of employable training.”We want to strengthen the juvenile homes so that when they come out, they are better citizens,” a senior ministry official said. Noting that most children in conflict with law are caught in such situations as they do not have awareness, the official said getting them to participate in community service might help in their reform.The JJ Act was amended in December to allow juveniles of 16 years and older in conflict with law to be tried as adults in cases of heinous crimes. The law mandates establishment of child care institutes in every district for those who are either in need of care and protection or in conflict with law.

TERI makes its operations, not sexual harassment charges against Pachauri, focus of statement: Complainant

New Delhi: The woman who accused TERI executive vice chairman RK Pachauri of sexual harassment on Friday said the organisation’s statement did not address the harassment case but rather talked of “TERI operations”.

“It is really sad they speak through press releases after such a massive public outrage. The release does not make my allegations or the case the focus, but is discussing TERI operations,” the complainant told IANS.

RK Pachauri. Getty ImagesRK Pachauri. Getty Images

RK Pachauri. Getty Images

A statement issued on Friday by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI)said it is a “unique organisation with a global presence” and that 33 percent of its 1,200 employees and 14 of the 30 directors are women.

“The governing council of TERI supports the rights of women and has consistently ensured the provision of a secure environment and a safe workplace for its employees,” the statement said.

“The paragraph says they protect women staff. Why was I impacted? Why was the researcher allegedly pressurised? The ICC (Internal Complaints Committee) too was intimidated,” said the woman who complained against Pachauri in 2015.

“As per the news reports, ICC faced hostility and intimidation. TERI officials visited their homes late at night. Why didn’t TERI do anything about that? As per news reports, ICC had to write to the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare to safeguard them. Why couldn’t TERI ensure that they are protected?”

Pachauri was on Friday sent on indefinite leave by the organisation, days after his promotion as the executive vice chairman.

“Pachauri, who had been the head of the institute since 1982, will be on leave from TERI, TERI governing council and TERI University, till this is reviewed by the governing council given the sub judice nature of the matter,” a TERI statement said.


Sex determination test should be made compulsory to check female foeticide, says Maneka Gandhi

Union minister Maneka Gandhi on suggested said that sex determination test should be made compulsory to track women pregnant with a girl child as a measure to check female foeticide.”In my personal view, the woman should be compulsorily told that whether it is a boy or girl child whom she is going to give birth. It should be registered to be able to check whether they have given the births or not,” the minister for Women and Child Development said.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I am just putting out this idea. It is being discussed though there is no conclusion yet,” she said at the All India Regional Editors Conference.It is a different way to look at this problem (female foeticide), which could be solved with this idea, she said.”We cannot keep catching people doing (illegal) ultrasound,” she said, adding that arrest of such people was not a permanent solution.

‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ to be extended to 61 districts: Maneka Gandhi

The NDA government’s flagship programme ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, initially launched in 100 districts, will now be extended to 61 more districts owing to its success, Union minster Maneka Gandhi said on Monday.Addressing the All India Regional Editors Conference, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development said the programme has delivered encouraging results, therefore 61 additional districts will be covered under the initiative.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Beti Padhao Beti Bacho was the idea of the Prime Minister and it has delivered good results. Girls are now being born and it is a good sign. Now, the government will add 61 more districts in this programme,” she said.The programme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Sonipat in Haryana last year, seeks to improve the declining trend of Child Sex Ratio in selected districts from the current level of 918 by preventing gender-biased sex selection and ensuring “survival, protection and education” of the girl child.”It is a societal change and state governments like Madhya Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan are taking serious steps to improve the condition of girl children and create opportunities for them,” Maneka said.On being asked about the illegal practice of sex determination at sonography centres, the minister noted rather sex determination tests should be made compulsory to keep a track on the well-being of the child.”Once it is registered that the child is girl or boy, it will be easy to monitor the baby. This is a different way to look at. I have just put this idea, which is being discussed though there is no conclusion on it yet,” she said.Talking about the different ways to ensure women safety, she said in the next two months, mobile phone handsets will have panic buttons.”The women in distress just have to press a finger on the panic button and she will get help,” Gandhi said.The minister also expressed concern on smuggling of camels to neighbouring states like Haryana for slaughtering and said certain police officers were involved in the act that needed the attention of both states’ governments.Underlining the programmes undertaken by her ministry, Maneka said special police volunteers will be appointed in every village for assisting women in distress. The two-day conference, that began on Monday, is being organised by Press Information Bureau of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

After 6-year-old dies in school, Delhi govt asks all schools to file report on safety aspect

As outrage grew over the death of a six-year-old boy at a private school, the Delhi government on Sunday ordered all schools to file “safety report” within a month while the child’s family demanded a CBI probe into the incident.Police continued to question authorities of Ryan international school in south Delhi’s Vasant Kunj area including principal Sandhya Sabu and some teachers as part of its probe after Divyansh Kakrora, a student of class 1, was found dead yesterday in a water reservoir of the school premises.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Alleging foul play in Divyansh’s death, his family demanded a CBI probe. He was cremated today at Dausa district in Rajasthan, where the family hails from.”We want the CBI to probe the matter,” relatives present at the boy’s cremation said.The initial postmortem report suggests that the child died of drowning, a senior police official said, adding that foul play cannot be ruled out at this point. An FIR was registered yeasterday at Vasant Kunj North Police Station under Section 304 (A) of IPC against unknown persons for causing death due to negligence.As the school authorities came under severe criticism from several quarters, the Delhi government held a meeting today where issues related to safety aspects in schools were deliberated upon in detail.At the meeting, presided over by deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, it was decided to order all schools to file a report to the government within one month about safety aspects at their premises. The government also decided to form a task force to verify the arrangements in the schools, officials said.The Delhi government had ordered a magisterial inquiry into Divyansh’s death on Saturday. Sisodia, who also holds the education portfolio, said arrogant and insensitive behaviour of the schools on matters relating to safety of the children will not be tolerated at all.”We have asked principals of each school, be it government, MCD or private, to carry out a prima facie inspection and give us a report. As soon as we get the report, we will carry out an inspection based on their report. I will get all 3,500 schools inspected in the next one month through SDMs, fire department, PWD, DJB, education department and MCD,” Sisodia said.He said that safety and security of children is a serious matter and he himself will carry out random inspection of the schools.The Deputy CM also said the boy’s death had “shattered” everyone and that a team of government personnel will carry out inspection for an hour in each of the school buildings to ensure there is no repeat of the incident. Police said they are looking into all angles and have not ruled out foul play at this point.Ramhit Meena, the distraught father of Divyansh, blamed the school authorities for the child’s death.”It is conspiracy by the school authorities and someone in the staff must be involved in the incident. I received a call from the school and I rushed to emergency ward at the hospital, where I found the principal at the entrance. I kept asking everyone about what had happened but nobody responded. Then the principal took me to the doctor, who informed me that my son was brought dead at the hospital,” he said.Meena, who is a paramedic at AIIMS, further said, “When I sought answers from the principal, she asked me to stay put, claiming that it is for our own good. When I insisted, I was yelled at.”However, the principal of the school refuted the allegation and claimed that Divyansh was a special child, who was “hyperactive” and had a tendency of running away from classroom. She, however, could not explain how the child fell into the water tank beneath the amphitheatre of the school.Divyansh was last seen before the seventh period, which was around 12.20 PM. The authorities then started looking for him and after sometime he was found floating inside the pit which is used as a water storage tank. It is under the amphitheatre in the school’s playground. He was then rushed to a hospital, where he was declared brought dead.”He was a special child, who was hyperactive and had tendency of running away from classroom. The moment the child did not report to the teacher, she informed the coordinator. The entire school is geared up towards taking care of such children… And there were 20-odd minutes where the doctors even tried to revive him and, meanwhile the coordinator called up the parents, which is the normal practice. The police is now investigating the case… I can absolutely understand what the parents must be going through this moment. But the allegations (against the school) are wrong,” she said.In a letter to Sisodia, Vijwasan MLA Devinder Sehrawat said, “The parents of the students of the locality are very concerned after such an incident. I request the Delhi government to take strong action against the delinquency of the school authority. The licence of Ryan International should be cancelled. The swimming pool in the school that is being illegally run using DJB water should be immediately sealed. The officials, which may include personnel from DJB, should be strictly acted against.”A number of parents of children studying in the school came out openly demanding action against the school. “The school authority must be punished,” said an angry parent.

Govt proposes to build 1 lakh anganwadis each year for 4 years

With around 70 per cent Anganwadis running from rented premises, the government has decided to build one lakh such centres every year over the next four years instead of 50,000 per annum, so that four lakh AWCs have their own children-friendly buildings by 2019. The Women and Child Development Ministry has accordingly written to the department of Rural Development for amending the construction guidelines for Anganwadi Centres (AWC) to provide for building one lakh centres each year for four years to meet the shortage.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The earlier proposal was to setup 50,000 AWCs per year in 2,534 most backward blocks in 11 states which have high malnutrition. “There is an acute shortage of Anganwadi buildings even outside high-burden districts. Therefore, a need was felt to include other areas also for construction AWC buildings under the convergence of MGNREGA and ICDS to meet the acute shortage of buildings,” said a senior WCD official. “Accordingly, construction of one lakh AWCs per annum for next four years would be necessary to overcome the shortage,” he said. The scheme would be funded partly from Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and partly from the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) budget.”Expenditure up to Rs 5 lakh will be borne by Rural Development Department under MGNREGA scheme and beyond it by WCD from its ICDS programme,” the official said. The project will be jointly implemented by WCD, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Ministries which will provide for facilities like water, sanitation and land for the building. WCD has issued guidelines for construction of children- friendly centres. It has said these centres should have infrastructure like sitting room for children, kitchen, toilets and a minimum of 600 square feet space for playing. The ministry has also suggested using local material for construction depending on the geo-climatic conditions of the area. There are 13.4 lakh angwandis across the country of which more than 12 lakh do not have their own buildings.

Odisha: Home-guard dismissed, 3 cops suspended for ‘torturing’ boy in custody

The Odisha police on Thursday dismissed a home-guard and put three cops including a woman police inspector of Hirakud police station in Sambalpur under suspension for allegedly torturing a boy in custody, videos of which had recently emerged.While Director General of Police (DGP) K B Singh placed Hirakud Police Station’s Inspector in-charge Sabitri Bal under suspension for the ill-treatment meted out to the minor boy, Sambalpur district Superintendent of Police (SP) Akhilesvar Singh dismissed the home-guard from service and suspended two other constables.The police action follows the airing of a footage of the alleged torture by a local news channel.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”The SDPO has probed the matter and submitted a report, based on which two constables – Jeet Podh and Ambuj Sahu – have been suspended and home-guard Siva Gouda removed from service,” Sambalpur SP Akhilesvar Singh said.Singh had also directed the woman police officer to report to the district police office and a departmental inquiry was initiated against her.The boy had allegedly snatched a mobile phone from a person on September 17 last for which the police had brought him to the police station for inquiry.The boy’s mother alleged that police thrashed him brutally in their custody and demanded Rs 8,000 for his release.She claimed she gave Rs 6,000 and brought her son back from the police station on September 19.Director of Child line Sambalpur Pradeep Behera said, “It is a heinous incident. I am yet to know the details.However, I am going to the Hirakud police station to inquire into the matter.”I have also informed the Child Welfare Committee and the District Child Protection Officer about the incident. A fact finding team will be formed to inquire into the matter,” he said.Meanwhile, the Odisha State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the SP and the DIG of the region on the matter.

214 children’s homes in Maharashtra may shut soon

The Maharashtra government may soon shut down 214 children’s homes across the state for failing to meet the basic infrastructure criteria, including that of proper sanitation, food and other requirements, as prescribed under the Juvenile Justice Act.Also, the women and child welfare department is expected to stop release of grants to another 273 children’s homes until they improve their living conditions and infrastructure.Highly-placed sources in the government revealed that Women and Child development minister Pankaja Munde had initiated a survey into the living conditions of all the 963 children homes affiliated with the government and the outcome has left the department disappointed.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>As per the survey, homes were classified under three categories depending upon their condition. Only 476 children homes find place in ‘A’ category and would continue to run with complete government support. The 273 homes that have fallen in ‘B’ category will be given another chance to improve but government will not release them grants until they show signs of improvement. However, those in the ‘C’ category will be shut down.As of today, the department pays Rs 900 per month per child to each children home. The order is expected to come out soon.In August this year, the department had ordered a detailed inquiry into the living conditions of the children in these homes. The inquiry, however, was being conducted by officers of other departments — social welfare and rural development — to make it foolproof.”Homes that scored between 90 and 100% were placed under category A, those which scored between 80 and 90% fell in B category, and any home scoring less than 80% was placed under category C,” said a senior officer.As per the JJ Act, children homes should have a fairly large physical space for reception of children, besides attached bathing and toilet facilities. The homes for transit care should have the minimum facilities of boarding and lodging and provide for fulfillment of basic needs in terms of clothing, food, health care and nutrition, as well as additional facilities for education, vocational training and recreation.Also, the home managements were told to ensure that biometric machines are put in place in all the centres to know the exact count of children in every home. And every child living in such a home must enrol for Aadhaar.”This is important as the department pays the management an allowance of Rs900 per month per child. Therefore, it is vital to know the exact number of children to prevent corruption,” the officer said.In 2012, the Central government had made it mandatory for all children’s homes in India to be registered under the Act even if they have a licence under any other law.

CBSE asks schools to ensure that fast food items not available

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has asked all its affiliated schools to ensure that food items like chips, carbonated drinks, ready- to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers and confectionery items like chocolates, candies are not available in the school canteens.The Board has advised all schools affiliated to it to try that no such food items are available around 200 meters of the school premises. In a Circular to all affiliated schools, the CBSE has written that consumption of food high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS) has been found to be associated with many diseases including type 2 diabetes, hypertension and others.Referring to a Women and Child Development (WCD) ministry report, CBSE secretary Joseph Emmanuel said that it provides insights on how to control the endemic problem of consumption of junk food available in and around schools.The senior CBSE official said that many recommendations made in the report have a direct bearing on schools and suggested they ensure that there is no HFSS foods such as chips, fried foods, carbonated beverages, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers, potato fries and confectionery items, chocolates, candies, samosas, bread pakoras, etc available in their canteens.So far as possible in their capacity, schools are also urged to take the possible necessary steps to ensure non-availability of HFSS around 200 meters of the school, the CBSE letter added. It said that schools should constitute ‘School Canteen Management Committee’ having about 7 to 10 members including teachers, parents, students and school canteen operators to implement and monitor the guidelines to make safe food available to students in the school. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>