Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Law ministry rejects bill for child protection

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, September 04, 2007

In a major setback to the Women and Child Development (WCD) Ministry, the Law Ministry has rejected the Offences Against Children Bill, saying the bill is just a repetition of provisions in other laws. The Law Ministry has told WCD that most provisions for child protection already exist in different laws and therefore, there is no need for a separate enactment of legislation.

The legal affairs department of the ministry said offences of sexual or physical abuse against children are covered under different sections of the Indian Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The ministry also said the Evidence Act also covers child protection in a comprehensive manner.

Following criticism from the Supreme Court on the Domestic Violence Act, the Law Ministry was doubly cautious this time. The apex court had termed the Act a poorly drafted legislation. In the wake of the court’s observations, the law ministry said the child offences law would only duplicate the work for law enforcement agencies.

The WCD ministry has touted the Offences Against Children bill as a major weapon to prevent incidents like Nithari and said that it would be introduced in Parliament in the monsoon session. After receiving a drubbing from the Law Ministry, the WCD ministry officials, said they were examining the draft bill in a bid to convince the Law Ministry about its utility.

The WCD ministry had covered all types of offences against child including corporal punishment, emotional abuse by parents or teachers and different types of sexual abuse. Stringent punishment for offences against child was prescribed. The ministry had also said that the bill would bring India at par with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Teaching children smart ways to stay safe

Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: Does your child know the ‘touching rules?’ Learning to differentiate between a good touch and a bad touch could be a crucial in children’s safety. ‘Tickles and hugs – Learning the touching rules’ is aimed at just that – teaching children smart ways to keep themselves safe.

An initiative of Tulir – Centre for the Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse, ‘Tickles and hugs …’ is an audio book on personal safety for children, which was launched at Landmark here on Wednesday. The audio book is a production of Karadi Tales and the project has been supported by ActionAid India.

Joint Secretary to the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development Loveleen Kacker, who launched it, said that a study conducted earlier this year brought out the instances of physical, sexual and emotional abuses children encountered.

The National-level study, commissioned by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, revealed that over 53 percent of the children in a sample size of about 14,000, had been sexually abused. “Abuse is highest among children in the age group of 5 to 12 years.” It was shocking that those children who are usually accompanied by adults are among the most abused lot, she said. She urged parents to seek help from lawyers, the police, counsellors and non-governmental organisations.

Actor Revathy, who has narrated the story in the audio book, said it was important to listen to what a child has to say. “They do not lie, unless we teach them to, and talking to children is easier than speaking to adults,” she said.

The human body knew when someone’s touch is not right, and only if one is willing to listen will a child report an incident of abuse, she said.

Sensitive issue

Shobha Viswanath of Karadi Tales said great care was taken while scripting the story as the issue was sensitive. The book has stories revolving around episodes of abuse and how a child needs to report them to a trustworthy adult.

Vidya Reddy of Tulir said the Tamil version of the audio book, ‘Kattipidi kichu kichu mootu – Thodudal vidhiyai therinjukalama?’, was launched at the Corporation Primary School in Koyambedu earlier on Wednesday. Students were very receptive to the content dealt with in the audio book, which was enacted by students of Women’s Christian College.

[ Source: ]

Education is oversexed

27 Aug 2007, 0023 hrs IST, Pinki Virani

Several children, without parental permission, are ordered to strip and are groped in a Delhi school health camp — by doctors who don’t wear gloves. This is child sexual abuse but there is no law to book these doctors. To protect boys there is only Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code which specifies sodomy.

This episode only underscores the existence of organisations which have no expertise in child education, but decide on what our children need to be taught in the form of sex education. Sex education is presented as cheap pornography in teaching material. How can one expect it to be better, when a motley combination of government and non-government organisations is in charge? It is not their area of expertise. Besides, they are not intrinsically invested in our children.

The state is schizophrenic in its attitudes to sex. A minister dis-allows sanitary napkin advertisements on television, yet the Censor Board allows the naming of a minor “sexy”. This cancer-ridden child, wearing spaghetti-strap tops, exchanges precocious adult banter with an old male cook. The subtext: it is okay for “harmless” old men to call girl-children sexy, talk in age-inappropriate language if they are dying.

Flush with foreign funds, a group conducts a school HIV-awareness workshop. The facilitators are young, they connect with the teens. But they are not qualified counsellors. They end up giving the impression that sex is just that — cool. In another workshop, with emphasis on experimental sex, the message is straightforward: whoever you do it with, girl or guy, just use a condom. Sadly, children are left with gaps. They are not told that continual anal sex can lead to sphincter and bowel problems.

Or, that oral sex can also transmit HIV if an infection of one partner meets the other’s blood through a gum-bleed or cut in the mouth.

We are seeing the hyper-sexualisation of sex education. Our children are urged to think of sex as an out-of-body experience, in isolation of their physical, mental, spiritual lives — it is all about sexual rights, with a condom to delete HIV and pregnancy.

No wonder parents are petrified about sex education in schools. But with no sex education at home either, where does it leave our children? Around half our nation is currently under 20 years. On the one hand, we have the Internet with its paedophiles, the fashion world’s bisexual brigade and item girls saying that sexuality can be bartered for a career. On the other hand, we have faiths which frown on sex except for childbearing and families which forbid gender interaction.

Positive parenting and sound schooling can avoid these extreme situations. Proper parenting starts young with the use of biological words at home to explain good touch and bad touch to children. Parents should be clued into the child’s inner life. One should answer questions and address their gender issues at the appropriate age. One should stay connected with children through their academic lives. If home has 50 per cent of the sexual predators, the world opening to the child has the rest. The latter, as increasing reports indicate, includes schools.

A child’s protection and sex education is possible with strong parent-teacher associations (PTA). Some schools fostering strong partnerships in their PTA are working together to draw up an acceptable sex education syllabus.

Sex education is grouped under age-appropriate classes and adapted to cultural requirements. In fact, it is not called sex education but gender studies imparting life skills and moral science. Any title which broadens the scope of the subject to put it in the right perspective, instills respect for the human body and approaches sex with sensitivity is fine.

This syllabus is taught by qualified teachers, with child psychology being a part of their BEd curriculum. In evolved PTAs, teachers could hold an additional degree in counselling to double up as alternatives to the pathetic in-school counsellors. Our children could turn out fine in such a set-up.

The writer works on issues of child sexual abuse.


Thanks to Askios for the link to the article. ]