The Telegraph
Saturday , February 1 , 2014
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Move to curb child abuse

Dhubri, Jan. 31: The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights today asked schoolteachers in Dhubri to be vigilant in order to prevent child rights violations and ensure their proper development.

In a workshop here today, the commission’s chairperson, Runumi Gogoi, sought the help of schoolteachers to check cases of child marriage, child labour and sexual abuse of children, which are often reported from Dhubri district. Around 700 teachers and presidents of school management committees from the district attended the workshop.

Dhubri district, which shares its border with Bangladesh, has the highest population growth rate among the 27 Assam districts. The literacy rate, however, is the lowest (59.36) against the state average of 73.18. Dhubri town is about 270km from Guwahati.

“Dhubri is one of the three focal districts because children here are more vulnerable to abuse because of the low literacy levels. Most parents in the inaccessible sar areas do not feel necessary to send their children and many girls are married off before they are 18. They even send their children to work in bidi factories, cashewnut farms, brick kilns and send them to towns to work as domestics. So, we want teachers to keep watch and prevent cases of violation of child rights,” Gogoi told The Telegraph.

Dhubri, Darrang and Golaghat districts have been selected for the teachers’ sensitisation programme on child rights, recently started by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the apex child rights body. Nearly 800 teachers were trained in Darrang district in December last year, while a similar programme will be held in Golaghat next month. “We are planning to include Kokrajhar and Dhemaji too,” Gogoi said.

Abdul Motalib, president of management committee of Nalia Lower Primary School, about 30km from here, said child marriage was rampant in the area owing to low levels of literacy. About 200 children are studying in the Nalia school, around 1km from the Indo-Bangladesh border.

Dhubri deputy commissioner Kumud Chandra Kalita said despite central schemes like the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, the administration was having a tough time in preventing cases of child rights violation, particularly in the sar areas. “Many parents leave their children at home to work in other districts. So, there is no one at home to take care of the children.”

“Teachers can approach us when they detect child abuse cases. We can ask government agencies and the administration to take steps under the Juvenile Justice Act, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and others. We can even move court for action,” member secretary of the Assam panel, Leena Das, said.