Kohima, May 15 (EMN): Government and community stakeholders discussed child-related issues and solutions to them, particularly abuse and exploitation, at a daylong seminar conducted by the Nagaland State Legal Services Authority (NSLSA), on May 15 in Kohima.
During the event, government and community stakeholders deliberated on child rights-related issues, challenges, and issues of safety, security, protection and possible solutions.
The event was organised in collaboration with local stakeholders, and assisted by a child welfare group Childline.
A resource person was Inspector General of police (Range) Sonia Singh. She spoke about the challenges and role of the police in protecting children.
She said that many missing cases are being registered on daily. In most cases, she said the missing child lands up in human trafficking and prostitution.
‘Make it a point to be aware what can happen to the people around you,’ the police officer said.
Saying that 80% of accused persons in child-related cases belong to a family person, the police officer said and questioned whether the state was safe enough for girls.
‘We need to re-orient ourselves and observe the safety of our child at home, at school, at shop or in any other places for that matter.
The major child issue in the state is child labour. As parents we have to protect the children from exploitation and abuse,’ she said.
Singh urged the people to report or file complaints at the nearest police station immediately. If due action is not taken against perpetrators, any child’s future is under threat as the accused is likely to commit the crime again, she said.
The accused needs to be dealt with law, and in brutal cases there is no exception for compromise, she said.
Singh said that police officers have to counsel the victim’s family to register FIR. Conviction is of paramount importance but this aspect is missing in the society.
Victims should stand up for themselves for safety, security, and protection but it is impossible if victims do not come forward to seek the law, Singh said.
Further, the police officer said medical treatment should be given to the child within 24 hours.
The doctor in charge of a child should present medical records to the police immediately, Singh said.
The police officer felt there is a need for better coordination between various machineries and agencies for the child’s interest.
Singh suggested that an officer should be designated for all the departments to handle child-related issues.
There are cases when parents and guardians are unknown, can’t be traced, or that the child has been disowned.
‘It is the investigative officers who had to bear financial expenses apart from the investigative procedures.
Therefore, the police officer suggested that financial grant / fund should be designated for victims.’
Some initiatives of the police during the past one year include the launch of the 112 helpline and FIR application facility, an anti human trafficking unit in all the districts, and a ‘police ki pathshaala’ (Hindi for ‘school for police’).
The second phase of the ‘police ki pathshaala’ will be launched next month, Singh said.
Another speaker, the member-secretary of the NSLSA, Mezivolü T Therieh, assured that the agency was committed to children’s welfare and their protection under the NALSA (Child Friendly Legal Services to Children and their Protection) Scheme of 2015.
The programme was organised for that the ‘development of society can be achieved by the development of children,’ she said, and that it was necessary to protect children from any kind of abuse or exploitation.
“Home is supposed to be the safest place for a child but in the present society that scenario is changing and therefore the need to create awareness by all stakeholders.
The various ‘child protection risk areas’ includes child abuse, trafficking, child labour, missing children and various other distress situations children experience,’ she said.
‘The only way to prevent these abusive incidents is to continuously fight against such abuses and to protect the child from such abuses; we need to be aware about the rights of the child.’
Therieh felt that awareness and education can help address the issues.
Child rights protection in the context of Nagaland needs to be addressed from a community level particularly through the active involvement of the churches and community groups, among others, she pointed out.
Collab director of Childline 1098, Dimapur, K Ela shared experiences on children issues.
The saddest thing in our society is that “defenders have turned perpetrators,” she said citing real life incidences.
She said that ignorance is still a big challenge in the Naga society. Perhaps the “grassroots level ignorance is suicidal,” she said.
Saying that one’s ignorance can kill somebody, she said ‘it is not bliss anymore, it is dangerous.’
There are a lot of instances where victims refused to report to the police.
In fact out of 100 percent, hardly one or two come forward to report, therefore the statistics does not tell the truth, she said.
Speaking on the menace of “illegal adoption,” she said it is a ‘dicey affair.’
There are instances where the illegally adopted child is ‘disown by the parents as and when they like,’ the director said.
Many of these children cases are stuck, she added.
Sharing further of her experience, Ela said that highest cases of child abuse are reported from the Naga family.
Even more, the child goes through all sorts of abuse in a Christian family, she said.
Children are struggling with metal health and are in a shaky environment. They went to an extent of even having suicidal thoughts and harming oneself, she said.
On the other hand, the system is not ‘very friendly’ child system.
The customary laws and practices do not have a picture of the best interest of a child when faced with risks.
The official urged people to do things in a child friendly way.
Themmungla Raman, a clinical psychologist spoke about the importance of counselling for parents and children. She said restoring families is a big challenge but not impossible, with concerted effort of everyone.
She suggested that a law or rules be made where child and parents are made compulsory to attend the sessions for positive outcome.
According to Raman children are “overexpose to negative forces” in our society. This led to the poor development of a child. She urged the people to work together to restore the family system, a system where children can protected.
Senior Programme coordinator of Childline India Foundation, Kolkata enlightened participants with videos related child issues based on true stories.
He spoke on the topic understanding Child Protection issues and strengthening the services available for child right.
Children being more vulnerable than adults to the conditions under which they live, they are more affected than any other age group by the actions and inaction of governments and society, he said.
Family, community, states, and civil society can play an important role in ensuring safety to the children, he added.
Limhathung Ezong, a state panel lawyer, gave the basic overview of laws relating to children issues.
He spoke about the laws including Prohibition of Child Marriage Act of 2005, Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.
Earlier, Songkhupchung Serto, judge at Gauhati High Court attened the programme as chief guest.
He released the NSLSA magazine ‘Mega legal services camp: from awareness to empowerment.’