WITH AN all-new child policy, the Women and Child Development (WCD) department of the Maharashtra government plans to amend laws to take action against persons running illegal children’s homes, or involved in any kind of violation of adoption rules. It also aims at regulating children’s participation in reality television shows, circus performances, along with other entertainment shows.
On Thursday, the new child policy for the state was launched in the presence of Minister Pankaja Munde, Nobel laureate Dr Kailash Satyarthi, Chairman of Maharashtra State Commission For Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) Pravin Ghuge, among others .
The policy document explicitly stated that under Section 34 of the Juvenile Justice (care and protection of children) Act, 2006, there is a provision to close down illegal children’s homes, but no provision for taking action against the persons operating such homes. Hence, an amendment would be made in the Act.
Any kind of violation of rules pertaining to adoption of children would be considered akin to human trafficking, it added. For this, a new law or an amendment should be made, stated the policy document.
Also, rules would be framed to regulate participation of children in reality television shows, circuses and other entertainment shows. A compulsory training must be given to all schools’ management committee members about children-related laws and rules, it added.
The document stated that children living on the streets and in public places, along with those in institutions under the Juvenile Justice Act, should be given all benefits of the Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana, now known as Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Jan Arogya Yojana.
The event to launch the policy was organised by MSCPCR as a sensitisation programme on child sexual abuse, as part of the ‘Bharat Yatra’ by Dr Kailash Satyarthi.
Satyarthi said, “As per the NCRB data, there are 4,800 Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) cases in Maharashtra and around 15,000 cases in the country. But, the conviction rate is only four per cent in such cases, while the acquittal percentage is around six. Ninety per cent of the cases are pending. In case of Maharashtra’s pending cases, it will take at least 17 years to clear them, assuming there are no cases from now onwards. The state should aim to clear cases in 17 months or less.”
The Nobel laureate had started his ‘Bharat Yatra’ in Kanyakumari on September 11 and will culminate it in Delhi on October 16. He said, “We have carried out a long march in the past as well. Earlier marches were with certain demands and we succeeded in them. But this march is special. Our fight to sensitise people about child sexual abuse is very difficult. People are not ready to speak on it. We just need to save one generation and then that will save the next generation.”
Meanwhile, Munde urged people to suggest amendments in the state’s child policy, to help improve it further.