SS Bhokta addresses the seminar in Ranchi on Thursday. (Hardeep Singh)
nAround 3.5 lakh marriages are solemnized in Jharkhand every year, out of which 1.5 lakh involve minors
nThe mineral-rich state is also rich in child workers, with more than 100,000 youngsters in the job
nOver 50,000 young girls are trafficked to metros each year
How secure are children in Jharkhand?
The question was lobbed at everyone who attended the two-day national seminar titled Securing Childhood: Challenges, Opportunities and Strategies, which began at XISS, Ranchi, on Thursday. The deliberations are being organised by Knowledge Management Resource Centre, which is run by the cradle and supported by Unicef.
Speaking on the inaugural session, Jharkhand Assembly Speaker and chief guest Shashank Shekhar Bhokta drew the audience’s attention to poverty. “It (poverty) is the primary reason behind denial of rights to children. Be it child marriage, trafficking, migration or children in conflict with the law, the root cause is poverty. When we talk of infant mortality or malnutrition among children, the root cause is lack of resources, in other words poverty.”
Giving a few examples of how penury and illiteracy hinder child rights, Bhokta said: “Have figures of rape or violence against women come down after the Nirbhaya case? No, because we have failed to generate awareness. A rule, an act or a law is not enough; the need of the hour is to educate people and eradicate poverty.”
Job Zachariah, chief of Unicef’s Jharkhand chapter, said they did not have a magic wand. “Talking is not enough. Time has come when we sit together, identify the problems and share the responsibilities to end the problems. This is the right place to chalk out strategies to ensure child rights.”
Father Ranjit P. Toppo, assistant director of XISS, outlined the schedule. The seminar has been divided into five technical sessions, which started with Child Labour in India with special reference to Jharkhand on Thursday.
On Friday, there will be four sessions on child trafficking in India and Jharkhand, birth registration the first right of a child, ways to prohibit child marriage and how education is important for juvenile delinquents.