The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fight forum to save kid rights

Fight forum to save kid rights

Together for a cause: The young representatives at the Kathmandu meetSmart moves by city boys at the national finals of the Cool Skool fest in Bangalore

The South Asian headquarters of United Nations Children’s Fund had organised The First South Asian Children and Youth Consultation on Commercial and Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Kathmandu, Nepal, from October 20 to 23. The participants included Afghanistan, Maldives, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. India was represented by Asian Youth Representative, ECPAT International, Sangeet Shirodkar, from Sanlaap. The Apeejay School student reports on the proceedings.

On the first day, the guidelines were discussed. It was accepted that at the end of the meet, we would form a Regional Force of Youth against CSEC. Heather Sutliff and Diksha Mudbhary, Child Protection Unit, UNICEF ROSA, facilitated discussions on the Overview of the Convention of Child Rights.

The four major rights of a child — survival, development, protection and participation — were discussed. Participants were given copies of the newly-formatted children’s version of the International Declarations. Susanne Mikhail introduced the commitments signed by countries at the two world congresses and explained the background of the study of CSEC. She also spoke on landmarks in fighting it.

The participants talked about their country’s status. Most felt peer counselling would help in fighting CSEC. Some countries are working towards child participation, like Pakistan, which has created an elected children’s council in Punjab. And in Calcutta, most red-light areas have active youth groups.

On Day II, the participants were asked to create a Young People’s One Activity National Plan of Action. We agreed that child prostitution and trafficking are the most pressing problems of CSEC in the region, along with child pornography and sex tourism.

Heather helped design the plan of action. She began by listing the steps, challenges and resources available, and suggested that when dealing with a problem as huge as CSEC, we should reach the targets with small steps.

Back home, we will conduct workshops with children from various risk groups and those from mainstream schools, to spot peer educators. After each workshop, two representatives will be elected. They will then be trained as youth facilitators. This core group will continue the work.

On the third day, we were asked to subdivide each activity step. We were to present this to UNICEF ROSA and the Focal Points (FP) — a meet running simultaneously with ours, at the same venue. Each country identified a representative to present their plan of action.

Sambandhata — ‘building linkages’ in Sinhalese — was our activity as a regional force. We proposed visiting different countries with active youth participation. We will discuss our experiences at the Yokohama Midterm Review Meet next year, and try to incorporate them into our plans of action. Maheshika, from Sri Lanka, and I were elected by the group as the representatives to present the South Asian Youth’s One Activity Plan of Action at the next day’s meet with the FPs.

The final day began with a panel discussion and presentation. The panellists were Balagopal Gopalan, senior protection adviser, Unicef, Ravi Karakara, regional coordinator, Save the Children, Denmark and Sweden, Carmen Madrinan, ECPAT International, and Anil Ragavanshi, ILO. I was the young participant representative.

Ravi spoke on his organisation’s approach to child sexual abuse, and announced that it is launching a sex education comic book for both boys and girls, globally. Carmen gave a status report on which countries have ratified the conventions, with India lagging behind Bangladesh. We presented our plan of action, which wrapped up the meet.


Flicks for fun

Dil chahta hai less formula sob stories, more movies for the young and trendy’ was the cry raised by Time to Talk this time. This is the last bunch of views.

lDil definitely chahta hai something different, but our filmmakers believe in sticking to the age-old sob-story formula. We are sick of this dard and tanhaiyee business. After all, that’s what we face in real life. When we part with our hard-earned pocket money, the least we can expect is to like what we see.

Neha Almal,

Calcutta Girls’ High School

lMovies for the young and trendy are becoming increasingly popular. Sob stories depict a very sad aspect of life. The young generation likes movies that are lively and fun to watch, movies that entertain them and refresh their minds. Dil chahta hai more movies for the young and trendy. But substance and technical superiority should not be compromised in the process.

Sayan Banerjee,

IIIrd year, City College

lNowadays, it is the younger generation that decides whether a film is a hit or not. And the youth are increasingly going for movies like Dil Chahta Hai. In other words, films free of formula. Stereotypical films clearly bore the audience, and there is an increasing demand for ones that portray the young, college crowd. Movie-makers should keep this in mind and fulfil the demand of the young movie-goers.

Vinay Poddar,

Bhawanipur College


Action time

With the activity-filled World Interact Week, October 22 to 28, on in full force, the Interact Club of St Thomas’ Girls’ School was not to be left behind. Although the club board for the ongoing year is yet to be installed, the members decided to fulfil the projects undertaken through the week.

The to-do list included voluntary work visits to the Missionaries of Charity Kalighat home, Nirmal Hriday, and Shishu Bhavan, on AJC Bose Road. Food was also distributed in the slums of Majerhat, as part of the Community Service Projects undertaken by the club.

The high point of the week was when the Interactors decided to celebrate Diwali by spreading a little joy among the less privileged. On October 24, with a generous contribution from the Interact Club of St Thomas’ Boys’ School, a big celebration was organised for the little girls of the Sisters of Providence orphanage, Ashadipti, and the boys from Don Bosco Ashalayam, Ashadeep, on the Ashadipti premises.

The courtyard was decorated with diyas, candles, lights and flower rangolis, and an array of sweets, snacks and health food were offered to the little boys and girls. They had a blast, bursting crackers under the watchful supervision of the Interactors. In keeping with the tradition of Dhanteras, the club also presented the authorities of the two orphanages with serving bowls, glasses and other utility items.

Representatives from the Interact Clubs of Pratt Memorial School, St James’, MP Birla and Frank Anthony Public School also pooled in their efforts to make it a memorable occasion.

Next, the Interact Club of St Thomas’ Girls’ School will plunge into a programme of asthma awareness. This involves a detailed study of the disease and an awareness programme for the under-privileged, as initiated by the Interact Club of Don Bosco Park Circus.

The members also plan to visit the under-privileged children of Bowbazar, who were part of the Nabadisha Project, to take stock of the situation and provide them with a few basic requirements like grains, stationery and clothing.

— Madhumita Das,

Interact Club of St Thomas’ Girls School


Winners all

Activity, the Cool Skool fest, came to Calcutta for the first time this year, after touring the country and tapping talent for the past nine years. It was a fun-filled two days at Don Bosco Park Circus, where 38 city schools displayed their skills in the fields of debating, quizzing, dance, antakshari and personality contests for boys and girls.

Teams and individuals from different schools made it to the national finals in six events in Bangalore this month. It was St Francis Xavier in the public speaking category, Frank Anthony Public Schools went ahead with antakshari, St Augustine’s sent the quizzers and the dance team was from St Paul’s Mission School. In the personality contests, Miss Activity was from St Francis Xavier and Mr Activity was a student of Lakshmipat Singhania Academy.

The finals were held on October 18 and 19, in Bangalore. Student finalists from all over India had gathered in the city to face the challenges in various events. But there was plenty of entertainment, too, to offset the competition.

The Calcutta students shone in several categories. Shubranshu Pal and Saif from St Augutstine’s came out on top with their quizzing talents. The duo proved that when it comes to quizzing, Calcutta knows best.

In public speaking, Abhishek Kapoor of St Francis Xavier finished in second place, with his speech on ‘The sword is mightier than the pen’ in the extempore act. On the given topic of ‘Tomorrow’, he wooed the audience with his reasoning that “there is no tomorrow without a progressive today”.

Finally, the nine-member dance team from St Paul’s Mission won the third prize in the fusion dance event. On October 18, there was a cultural programme in the evening. The chief guest was Javagal Srinath, with students meeting the cricketer in person.

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