Reducing violence against children
India has the largest population of children in the world, with more than 480 million children in the 0-18 age demographic. Protecting them and providing them with equal opportunities is crucial to their development and growth. Nearly 66 per cent of all children in this age-group face some form of physical abuse while more than half (53 per cent) of them face sexual abuse.
The Tata Trusts work closely with district and state administrations to ensure that existing child protection mechanisms are strengthened and prioritised. In partnership with NGOs, the Trusts build upon these mechanisms and human resources to develop need-based solutions to resolve the administrations’ challenges and gap areas. The focus then shifts to strengthen operating procedures, implementing child protection policies and building capacities of staff to implement the mandates.
Some of the key programmes under this initiative include:
- Signing an MoU with the Government of Maharashtra to work in tribal ashramshalas in Gadchiroli
The Trusts aim to develop a system of child protection by setting up grievance redressal mechanism, MIS and child-led monitoring processes in 30 ashramshalas (residential schools for tribal children). The Trusts have signed an MoU with Government of Maharashtra to strengthen child protection mechanisms in residential ashramshalas of Gadchiroli, Maharashtra. A baseline study of 38 ashramshalas, including 570 staff and 1,140 students, was conducted before initiating the project. The objective of this project is to ensure all children in the ashramshalas continue their education in safe and child- friendly environment.
- Working to make Chandrapur in Maharashtra a POSCO-compliant (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) district
While the POSCO Act was passed in 2012, there was not a single district in India that had implanted it completely. The Trusts worked with the Chandrapur district administration and launched a pilot project in 59 villages in the Pombhurna block in a bid to make Chandrapur the first POSCO-compliant district in the state.
Project objectives include:
- Reaching out to more than 7,000 community members including teachers, parents, district officials and other stakeholders to generate mass awareness about recognising and handling child sexual abuse, preventing its prevalence and reporting its incidence.
- Building the capacity of stakeholders by training them in the full provision of the POSCO Act
- Strengthening village-level child protection structures and mechanisms for the prevention of, and protection from sexual abuse, and for effective response as per the POSCO Act.
- Capacity building of key stakeholders through implementation partner Jan Seva and technical partner Arpan – 94 teachers, 126 police officials, the child protection unit, the Childline helpline and child welfare committees in the district were trained to achieve procedural compliance.
There are 140 community groups formed in these villages comprising 59 village child protection committees, 59 adolescent girls’ groups and 22 59 adolescent boys’ groups. Forty-two district counsellors have been trained to provide counselling support to victims of child sexual abuse.
The Trusts also conducted a gap analysis study in Chandrapur to find out existing gaps in the implementation of POCSO; this study will be used to develop a project plan for the second phase that aims to cover all 15 blocks in the district. The gap analysis report was submitted to the district collector to determine ways to address the infrastructure gaps and get permissions from the district court.
The Trusts aim to follow through on the success of the first phase of this initiative to make Chandrapur completely compliant under the POSCO Act. In addition, the Trusts plan to:
- Train teachers in Chandrapur district to educate children on prevention of sexual abuse through age-appropriate training modules.
- Develop Information Education Communication (IEC) materials for mass awareness.
The Trusts also supported the Centre for Child and the Law (CCL) at the National Law School, Bengaluru for the development of guidelines for the POSCO Act, and a handbook for lawyers.
Care and Protection of children in institutions: The Trusts have been supporting child care institutions such as the Bhartiya Samaj Seva Kendra in Pune; Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) in Guwahati; ARUN and Samarpan in Delhi.
POCSO Consultation: The Trust also conducted a 2-day national conference on the POSCO Act in Delhi in association with HAQ, UNICEF and CCL (NLSIU) in February 2019, that brought together key stakeholders to launch the research conducted by CCL on the status of the Special POSCO Court in five states.