The Centre on Wednesday released a draft of a new national child protection policy, which includes a declaration signed by all employees of institutions, agreeing to ensure the safety of children.
The draft has been uploaded to the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) website, and the ministry has invited comments from stakeholders until 4 January. It will apply to “all institutions, and organisations (including corporate and media houses), government or private sector”.
What the policy says
As per the document, the policy "aims at providing a safe and conducive environment for all children through the prevention and response to child abuse, exploitation and neglect". It also allows organisations to "understand their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding/protecting children and promoting the welfare of children; individually and collectively".
Alongside the declaration, the document contains also guidelines for institutions and organisations to enforce the child protection policy. They include organising orientation programmes on child protection, designating responsibility to staff members to enforce child protection and report any abuse, exploitation or neglect, and respecting children "regardless of race, color, gender, sexuality, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status".
Any person who suspects physical, sexual or emotional abuse must report it to the helpline number 1098, the police or a child welfare committee, the report says.
The document also comprises a list of behaviours towards children that are punishable by law, including the POCSO and JJ Acts.
The development comes after the Centre on 5 December informed the Supreme Court that the first draft of child protection policy was ready. The MWCD joint secretary, who was present in the court, had said as and when required, the ministry had taken the assistance of experts and professionals and all stakeholders, including members of civil societies, while drafting the document.
The Supreme Court had earlier said that "things are not all that good" while referring to rising incidents of abuse of children and women at shelter homes, and had asked the Centre to put in concerted efforts to deal with the situation.
It had also observed that existing mechanism was "not adequate" to curb incidents of sexual and physical abuse of children and girls at shelter homes.
Starkly different from 2013 policy
As per a report from The Hindu, the current document does not speak about children who may need additional special protection measures: including those affected by migration, communal or sectarian violence, children forced into begging or in conflict with the law, and those infected with HIV/AIDS — much unlike the 2013 National Child Policy.
It also does not address the role of the state for ensuring protection of child rights or addressing local grievances, the report noted.
The newspaper quoted Priti Mahara, the director of policy, advocacy and research at CRY as saying: "We welcome the decision to bring a national policy, but its subsequent versions will need to go into greater detail."
"The document needs to define what child protection is, as well as what it means by institutions or organisations," she said.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Dec 19, 2018 11:52:36 IST