Regional Consultation Meet: Rights of the Child discussed
By Anil Gulati
This was second regional meeting organised by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India. The first one was held at Chandigarh at the end of July.
More than 50 civil society and state partners from states like Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh participated in the consultation.
With the aim of inviting suggestions towards preparing the 2nd country report on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a regional consultation was organised in Bhopal. The meeing was attended by representatives of various NGOs and institutes of national and state level repute.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is an international treaty signed by the Government of India in year 1992.
The Convention sets out the full range of human rights for children – civil, cultural, economic, political and social - in 54 articles and two Optional Protocols to which India is signatory.
Participating in the meeting Dr Hamid El Bashir, State Representative for UNICEF Madhya Pradesh, said that society needed to lead the change process and could play an important role in driving the thinking of the government.
“Children have unmet rights in Madhya Pradesh and we need to create a mass movement around children to make that happen. Madhya Pradesh needs to strengthen child rights monitoring and take into account children’s views. When we decide not to include children, we are in fact, missing important members of society.
Karuna Bishnoi, Communication Officer, UNICEF said that India will be reporting for the first time on the Optional Protocols on children affected by armed conflict and sale of children and stressed the importance to understand the context better and provide suitable suggestions.
The Issue of defining the age of a child in India was discussed at length in the meeting. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 1, anyone below 18 is considered a child. Whereas Indian laws like juvenile justice, child labour etc., differ on the age parameters.
Non-governmental organisations from Madhya Pradesh namely Aarambh, Oasis, Madhya Pradesh Samaj Sewa Sanstha, Madhya Pradesh Voluntary Health Association, Vikas Samvad, Janshas, National Institute of Women Youth and Child Development contributed from the state perspective.
Mr. C K Reejonia, Under Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India; representatives from the Departments of Women and Child Development, Education and Social Justice, M.P., and Women and Child Development Maharashtra also participated in the meeting.