Monday, 1 April 2013

Child rights panel received only 51 abuse cases in 5 years

Himanshi Dhawan, TNN Mar 31, 2013, 12.17AM IST

NEW DELHI: This flies in the face of the spate of growing abuses against children. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) â€" mandated to monitor child rights' violations and armed with quasi-judicial powers â€" has received only 51 complaints of sexual and physical abuse of children from across the country in the last five years. Even more shocking is that it has filed FIRs in only eight cases, according to data accessed by RTI. In most cases, the Commission just referred the matter to the local administration for further investigation or the issue has been taken up by courts.

The measly number of cases with NCPCR looks all the more startling considering that a government study in 2007 estimated that 42% children in India face some form of sexual abuse or other. Among these 48% of boys and 39% girls admitted to facing sexual abuse. The study also revealed that in most cases the child was abused by a person known to h/him.

Activists said that the huge gap between the number of abuses and the low reportage to NCPCR could be because of lack of awareness, but refused to spare the Commission of its responsibility. NCPCR's mandate includes spreading awareness of children's rights and protection mechanism for them.

Most of the cases with the NCPCR related to the abuse in homes, shelters and orphanages run by government or NGOs. The ministry's reply admitted that cases were closed when they did not get a reply, but was silent on why the Commission did not pursue the matter.

For instance in 2009, NCPCR received a case of alleged discrimination of a HIV positive child from SOS Children's Village in Bhopal. Serious as it was the Commission did precious little. Government's action taken report says that the case was closed because it did not get ``exact information''. In another case in 2012 the Commission did not take action against a shelter based in Faridabad because the complaint was ``anonymous''.

The data was provided by the ministry of women and child development (WCD) in response to an RTI filed by Yogesh Kumar from child rights NGO, Pratidhi. Speaking on the issue, Pratidhi's Raj Mangal Prasad faulted the body of inaction and apathy. ``The NCPCR's mandate was to initiate action against violations of child rights and take remedial action but the data shows otherwise,'' he said.

FIRs were lodged in 2010 in cases related to torture of children in Anand Aashram home, Murshidabad in West Bengal, against Karnataka-based Karunaya community development trust for the alleged death of a 14-year-old boy and SOS Village Faridabad in Haryana for the alleged torture of children. In 2011, a FIR was lodged against AGAPE residential home in Hyderabad for abuse of children.

Last year, the Commission has filed FIRs and taken action against three NGOs â€" Gurgaon-based Drone Foundation and Suparna Ka Aangan and Karnal-based Bharath Vikas Sangh.

There are other instances of neglect. In 2009, a case related to exploitation at a Delhi-based Balika Ashram was referred to the state commission and a report is still awaited nearly four years later. A report has also not been submitted by authorities to the child rights panel against complaint of torture on children by Odisha- based Orphanage Global Village. The complaint was filed in 2011.

In 2011, an eight-year old died in a children's home in Jabalpur. NCPCR took up the matter with the area collector and medical treatment was given to the child. However, the child died in transit. Inexplicably, the Commission's records do not show any action on the issue.


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