The Report on Commemoration of Child Protection Day in Assam-2016 was released by Assam Governor P. B. Acharya in Guwahati recently. The report is a compendium of activities of Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) compiled as part of Child Protection Day Celebration. The focus of the report is the findings of the visits by the ASCPCR to disaster-prone districts of Assam; and the State level Conclave on Impact of Disaster on Protection of Children in Assam held earlier this year.
Assam is the first state in India to have officially declared Child Protection Day to be celebrated every year on March 4. Child Protection Day is an important platform to raise our voices against all forms of violence and discrimination against children and to mobilize and create an enabling space for collective thinking and sharing among all concerned stakeholders and duty bearers.
During his address, the Governor voiced his concern over incidents of violence and crime against children. He urged all participants to mobilize community level groups as volunteers to generate awareness and motivation on all aspects of child rights. He stressed on the role that various sections of the society including academic institutes, senior citizens, and youth groups could play in preventing incidents of crime against children. His Excellency also highlighted the importance of creating awareness among children through effective use of existing platforms like the mid-day meals in schools.
Tushar Rane, Chief UNICEF Assam, during his speech outlined UNICEF’s focus on social inclusion and equity-based programming to reach the ‘last mile’ children. UNICEF also presented data on key child protection concerns in Assam including crimes committed against children, sexual offences, child labour and child marriage.
Speaking on the issue of children during disasters, Runumi Gogoi, Chairperson i/c, ASCPCR in her address, urged for adequate sensitization of the various departments of Govt. to enable proper response to issues of children in the state. She said that it is critical that every person concerned should feel responsible towards Child Protection in Emergencies (CPiE). She requested the Governor to intervene and take necessary steps to include Disaster response and Child Protection issues into syllabus of Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA).
During the launch ceremony, the Governor, also stressed that ChildLine should be operationalized in all districts of Assam. He also agreed on the need to establish Special Courts under Protection of Children under Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act to fast track cases of sexual offences against children and reduce the current backlog of cases.
A baseline report on status of children in railway premises in Assam was also released on the occasion. The report was produced by Railway Children India with support from ASCPCR and UNICEF Assam. The study, a first of its kind, was conducted in view of increasing cases of trafficking and railway being a significant medium of transfer for children.
Senior officials from various Government Departments including Department of Social Welfare, State Child Protection Society, Assam and UNICEF Assam were present at the launch. Civil society representatives from All India Disaster Mitigation Institute, Gujarat and Railway Children India, Delhi were also present.