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Forum to fight for children’s safety

NGOs, advocacy groups, children’s forums and academicians in the city came together on Saturday to discuss the formation of the eastern region chapter of the proposed National Action and Coordination Group Against Violence against Children (NACG).

India will be the last of the eight Saarc countries to get an NACG, whose purpose is to strengthen the alliance between the governments and various groups to end violence against women and children. The group is composed of representatives of the UN, multi-lateral and bilateral agencies, NGOs, children and youth groups.

“Bengal is not faring well as far as violence against children is concerned — be it child trafficking, child marriage or child labour. Some of the issues are cross-national...,” said Rajib K. Halder, the additional director of CINI, who was part of the Interim Working Group that was set up in February 2013 in consultation with the women and child development ministry.

The group was formed to steer the formation of the regional chapters. Halder is representing the eastern region in the attempt at creating the national body.

Meetings for the formation of the northern, western, northeastern and the southern chapters will be held in the next few days.

Elected representatives from each chapter will travel to Delhi in the first week of June for the formation of the national body. This will be followed by a meeting in Colombo, where representatives of all NACGs will sit with South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIVAC), which tries to prevent and respond to all forms of neglect of and violence against children.

An action plan to be discussed in Colombo will focus on “child trafficking, child marriage, corporal punishment, child sexual abuse and exploitation and child labour,” Halder said.

“The most important standard has to be set with education, which can be a very big answer but is not reaching all children,” said Sister Cyril, the former principal of Loreto Day School, Sealdah, who steered Saturday’s meeting alongside Manabendra Mandal, the director of Socio-Legal Aid Research and Training Centre.

The Calcutta meeting was attended by International Justice Mission, Apne Aap Women Worldwide, Sanlaap, Banglanatok dot com, Women’s Interlink Foundation, CRY and other organisations.