Commission likely to be operational in a few weeks
MUMBAI: The Maharashtra government has put the final touches on a plan to create a Child Rights Commission — the first of its kind in the country — amid a disquieting increase in incidents of child abuse in the state. The proposal is expected to be approved by the state cabinet in the coming days, and the Commission is likely to begin functioning in a few weeks.
A study conducted by the Centre and United Nations Children’s Fund early this year had established the growing rate of child abuse in the state.
The study revealed that the 53 per cent of the country’s children are sexually assaulted, and Maharashtra’s figures were consistent with the national percentage of 50.57. The figures were viewed with serious concern by the state government.
“All formalities have been completed,” said Harshvardhan Patil, minister for women and child development.
Maharashtra was also the first state to establish a Women’s Commission in the early 1990s. An official from the Women and Child Welfare Department said the current proposal met an urgent requirement. “The amendment to the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, and the introduction of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005, were both related to children,” the official said.
State officials contend that they have registered commendable success in controlling child labour in hazardous industries such as those associated with zari and leather. "We rescued nearly 2,400 children, after which employers voluntarily released some 23,000 children from hazardous industries," the official said. "That represents the release of up to 75 per cent children working in hazardous industries."
Vijay Satbir Singh, secretary, Women and Child Development Department, said the new commission will focus on critical children-related issues. “It will deal with health problems, child labour, child beggars, orphans, and domestic violence faced by children." Singh said the commission will help the government start day-care centres and effect better co-ordination with agencies working for child welfare.
Farida Lambe, a trustee of Pratham, an organisation that works to promote primary education, welcomed the creation of the commission but said that its administration should be in the right hands. That feeling was echoed by other activists. Lambe said malnutrition, sexual abuse, and right to education should be the priority areas of the commission.