Guwahati, Oct. 26: Child rights activists, policy makers, NGOs and government agencies from across Assam and parts of the country will gather here for a two-day state consultation to end violence against children.
The consultation, organised by the Assam State Commission for Protection of Children (ACPCR) and Unicef on October 29 and 30, will hold threadbare discussions on violence against children, including sexual abuse, commercial exploitation (child labour and trafficking), corporal punishment in schools and child marriage among others.
“The two-day consultation will see participation of more than 250 government delegates from all the 27 districts of Assam. The delegates will include officials from departments like social welfare, police, education, health, labour, juvenile justice boards, nodal officers of all the 14 anti-human trafficking cells,” ACPCR chairperson Runumi Gogoi told reporters today.
“Representatives from National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and activists like Bidda Reddy from Chennai will talk on different issues of protection of children and development,” Gogoi added.
The ACPCR has received over 120 complaints of child harassment and sexual abuse in the last two years from across Assam. Cases related to juveniles in conflict with law are also another issue in the state. On Saturday, police here caught 20 minor boys on charges of stealing goods from areas under Dispur and Odalbakra police stations.
“They have been booked under relevant sections of Juvenile Justice Act and sent to shelter homes for action,” a police officer said.
The second day will include sessions on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 (POCSO), laws to tackle issues like child marriage and Project Aswas of Assam police which provide assistance to children falling prey to insurgency problem.
“During our field visits it has been found that child marriage is prevalent in tea garden areas, minority population and among indigenous communities like Mising people. POCSO is a strict law against those sexually abusing children but awareness about it among people and law enforcers is still low. We need to get all agencies on board to properly enforce these laws and make sure that our children are not abused and harassed,” Gogoi said.
Chairperson of NCPCR Kushal Singh, Assam social welfare minister Akon Bora, health and education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and chief secretary Jitesh Khosa, among others, will attend the inaugural session on October 29.
“Corporal punishment, which is prevalent in 80 per cent of schools in Assam, will be another important topic of discussion. We want to have a thorough discussion on how to stop corporal punishment which is prohibited,” Gogoi said.
The chief of Unicef field office in Guwahati, Jeroo Master, said the consultation will discuss issues like female feticide, child labour, child trafficking, child marriage in order to ensure protection children from birth.