Wednesday, 27 February 2013

27 child labourers rescued at Peenya

Published: Sunday, Feb 24, 2013, 10:13 IST

By DNA Correspondent | Agency: DNA


 A team led by the Bangalore urban deputy commissioner raided a few industries in Peenya on Saturday and rescued 27 child labourers, including three girls, from the units.

The deputy commissioner GC Prakash said criminal cases were filed against the owners and supervisors of the firms. He added that the rescued children were aged between eight to 16 years. The 25-members team managed to rescue the children with the help of officials from police department, labour department and women and child welfare departments. All the rescued children were produced before the child welfare committee, following which they were sent to children's home, Prakash said.

The officials of departments concerned will make the efforts to trace out the families of these children, failing which the government will take care of them.

The raids were conducted on the premises of Charu Perfumery House, Gajanana Fast Food, Tea Lite Industries, D-Car Garage and Shakti Rubber Industries.

"The owners and supervisors of the units were absconding as they came to know about the raids," a police officer said. The RMC Yard police have registered criminals cases against them and efforts are made to nab them.

Source from the DC office said the labour department would register separate cases against those firms.

The source added that the rescued children hail from Jharkhand, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, apart from different parts of the state like Hassan, Mandya and Bangalore urban districts. Further investigations are on.

Rise in sex crimes against minors

TNN Jan 25, 2013, 04.39AM IST

NEW DELHI: The 16-year-old boy, sexually abused in a south Delhi school, reported it and filed a case. Children generally take time to get to this stage. Psychiatrists and counsellors say most kids report only after a "long relationship". Small children, especially, take time to understand that what they are going through constitutes abuse. They also say such cases are coming to them more frequently.Description:

"It is usually in retrospect that a child understands his or her situation," says psychiatrist Avdesh Sharma. That, along with the fact that the child doesn't possess, what Sharma calls, the "vocabulary" to describe his experience, makes the detection and prevention of child sex abuse particularly tricky. In fact, in the initial stages, a child may even misinterpret the abuser's intentions and "feel special" making both excessive attachment to and refusal to interact with an individual possible indicators to abuse.


"Abuse in institutions was always there but I find it has increased and not just because it is reported more now," observes Sharma. Among young kids, abuse of boys and girls is practically equivalent. It is only after adolescence, when boys tend to become more aggressive, that the number of cases of boys being abused start dropping significantly. However, in many cases, it's when the kids grow up that they understand and report the abuse.

It's instinct that protects younger children. Organizations working to prevent child sex abuse teach kids to trust their instincts. Chennai-based NGO Tulir had launched an audio book on "safe" and "unsafe touch" in 2009. If a touch, a picture or being corralled into a secluded corner makes a child uncomfortable, he or she should get away "no matter who the person doing it may be". "Children as small as six or seven years old know instinctively," says Sharma and older kids, exposed to contemporary media are more aware anyway. "Older kids shouldn't allow anyone to violate their personal space." Meetings after school hours or in secluded areas are an absolute no-no.

Children may wait to report but there are still signs parents could look out for. School counsellor Astha Bajaj says that victims of any kind of abuse tend to withdraw, stay away from school, be inattentive in class and make frequent trips to clinics or restrooms. "They will generally have low self-esteem and may react aggressively even to innocuous teasing," says Bajaj.

Parents often have to entrust the care of the kids to outsiders. In case of pre-teens and teens, if they have adults they can talk to, it will go a long way to keep them safe. "The child may not be able to talk to the parents but if he talks to peers he may not get the right information. Friends may even make fun of him," says Sharma. Plus, pre-teens and teens will have issues of sexuality of their own to deal with.

Finally, the abusers also need help. Bajaj says that most abusers would have been abused themselves. Sharma says, "If you don't help them - beyond what the law is doing -- they'll repeat it."

Writing for rights

Samudra Gupta Kashyap : Guwahati, Sun Jan 27 2013, 01:40 hrs



Md Fazal Haque, 15, a student of Class 9 at Anchalik High School of Simina village in Kamrup district of Assam, used to spend most of his free time playing or gossiping. But now he and nine other boys and girls have found something else to keep themselves busy—they look out for families who are marrying off their under-age and school-going girls and raise an alarm.

Fazal and his classmates Babar Ali, Aqib Hussain, Mamoni Begum, Karabi Kalita and Jyotsna Begum are members of a group called Asha Rengoni, which means ray of hope. They not only learn about child rights, but also intervene in cases of child marriage. Part of a programme called Young Reporters Initiative, there are more than 90 such groups in the districts of Kamrup and Dibrugarh. "At least 10 girls from our school dropped out because they were married off, with their parents citing tradition as well as economic hardship," says Aquib. They have intervened and stopped two child marriages so far.

A few groups in Dibrugarh district too are running campaigns against child marriage. Momi Munda, 18, member of a Young Reporters group, Chetana, at Khowang, says many people, especially tea plantation labourers, don't even know that there is a minimum age for a girl's marriage.

Young Reporters Initiative is run jointly by the Assam branch of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) and Unicef, involving more than 1,000 children in Kamrup and Dibrugarh districts since 2009. "It is a kind of multi-purpose initiative where we are not only talking about child rights directly with select groups of children, but also supporting them in taking rights-related issues to the community," says Damayanti Devi, the state secretary of KGNMT, who heads the joint initiative.

"Child marriage, which is higher than the national average in eight districts of Assam, is one issue with this initiative," says Ved Prakash Gautam, child protection officer with Unicef, Assam. Unicef data says Assam's marriage prevalence among under-18 girls stands at 39.9 per cent while the national average is 42 per cent. Districts with figures that are above the national average include Barpeta (53.6), Kokrajhar (50.6), Dhubri (48.6), Karbi Anglong (46.3) Karimganj (45.3) and Dhemaji (44.2), as also Nagaon and Baska.

While child rights as defined by the UN Convention on Child Rights remain the focus of this initiative, Young Reporters also conduct surveys and field reports on child labour, sanitation, safe drinking water, malnutrition, immunisation, primary education, mid-day meal, birth registration and delivery of various Integrated Child Development Services programmes.

Last year, village elders at Sarulah in Hajo block of Kamrup district took the help of the local Young Reporters group in mounting a campaign against drugs and liquor. "The group not only helped coin slogans and cartoons against drugs and liquor, but also composed jingles and staged street plays," says Himarani Baishya, coordinator of the project.

Recently, 15 children each from Dibrugarh and Kamrup carried out a random survey in two villages near Guwahati, during which they discovered several problems. "The findings of these groups are published as news and features in Mukta Akash, a quarterly newsletter. This newsletter is not only distributed in schools, panchayats, clubs and mahila samitis in the two districts, but is also sent to government functionaries, including the chief minister," says Damayanti Devi. Many of these reports have had an impact. In Dibrugarh district, a wooden bridge which was damaged in floods was repaired only after a Young Reporters group wrote about it.

BANGALORE, February 26, 2013


Yes, they dream of going home



Inside a narrow lane in Gandhinagar vehicles make several trips to the office of the Bangalore district's Missing Child Bureau (MCB) and drop children picked up from places such as Majestic bus stop and the Bangalore City Railway Station.

Inside a locked room at the MCB office, the children are playing a carom game. Snatching the striker from a boy, Priya F., the chirpiest of the lot, asserts it is her turn to play.

While some children are eagerly waiting to be reunited with their parents, others are dreading the thought of home. "I am scared as I ran away and went to Raichur 10 days ago. I wanted to get married to my boyfriend, but things did not work out with his family. So we came back to Bangalore and my friend left me at the bus stop and went away. Now I am sure my parents will scold at me," says Priya, all of 13.

In the corner sits Azarudin Khan (12). "Where did they pick you up from? Where were you going," the others ask him, almost in chorus. He ignores them.

When this reporter prodded him, he says he worked in a carpentry shop in the city where he earned Rs. 3,000 a month. He was picked up by the MCB staff from the Majestic bus stand.

"I live in Bangalore with my mother. She beats me a lot. My parents don't live together anymore. I want to go to Mumbai as my father lives there. He will take care of me," he says.

Soon, the conversation is interrupted as a bucket of hot rice and sambar are brought in.

As all of them pick up the plates, Rangaswamy (15), who ran away from home two months ago in search of a job, says: "Back home, I would fuss, so my mother would feed me. I miss my mother. Now I just want to get back home, but my parents don't know I am here. My mother cannot travel so far to take me home."

After lunch, the gang heads to watch television and quarrels erupt over the channel. The fight is resolved by the caretaker who switches on Cartoon Network. There is peace: all seem fine with the caretaker's choice.

A few minutes later, a middle-aged man walks in and Priya rushes to him. "He is my father," she announces to the others. Her father, watchman Francis Xavier, refuses to let go of her hand and breaks down, "Why did you run away?" he asks repeatedly.

After a half-hour discussion among the father, child and the counsellor, Priya is ready to head back home. She waves goodbye as the others looked at her enviously.

BANGALORE, February 26, 2013


Tracking a missing child is a challenging task



NGOs, police have their own strategies to reunite runaways with their families

Sasank, a speech and hearing impaired 16 year old, was found at the Bangalore City Railway Station a month after he went missing in May last year.

He was reunited with his family with an NGO's help. Tracking him down was a challenge as he was not able to communicate effectively but luckily, he was able to recognise a temple near his house after he was shown a series of pictures online, with a map. The NGO then contacted the police station located near the temple and the teen was restored to his family.


The tracing process sometimes starts with the Missing Child Bureau (MCB) or the child helpline, depending who gets the call first. "Often we are tipped off by the public — who we call concerned adults," said Jennifer, the helpline coordinator.

"We sometimes receive calls from hospitals about abandoned babies as well. Apart from the police, we have a rescue booth at the Bangalore City Railway Station and the Majestic bus stand. Members of the public who spot such children keep them at the booth until the NGOs take them into their custody," she said. The police too are informed and they help trace their family using data on missing complaints, she added.

The next step, Ms. Jenifer said, is counselling the child and getting all details of the family before reuniting it with its family. If the children are reluctant (usually it's the older ones) to go home or have been abandoned, they are handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). Shivanna, a member of the NGO, Sathi, said that it mostly handles missing cases from Davangere and Gulbarga and also within Bangalore. Concurring with Ms. Jennifer, he said that at least 10 children are found at the railway station every day.


The process is challenging, said Fr. Jose of the Missing Child Bureau, which has cells in all the districts working in tandem with the police. There is a national online portal for missing children and the State government has plans to run a parallel online portal as well. He believes enhancing the existing portal (e.g., photo matching, fingerprint matching) would help achieve better results as it is jointly managed by NGOs along with childcare groups that have experience in rescuing children.

The bureau is keen on extending the portal accessibility to the gram panchayat level where many missing children cases don't get reported. He said that a major problem in the tracing process is that many children are not able to provide accurate addresses or phone numbers.

An online portal with details of a missing child could have a wider reach and help expedite reunions. But the information fed into it must be monitored by the regulating authorities and be accessible only to the police officers concerned, childcare centres and others directly involved in the tracing process, he said.


Pranab Mohanty, Joint Commissioner Crime (West), said that police have various ways to trace the missing children and the approach depends on case-by-case basis.

"We first try to get the contact number of the parents. At times, there is resistance from the family and the institution involved to reveal the real reason why the child went missing and at others, the missing children are kidnapped and trafficked," he said.

Referring to the proposed parallel portal for missing children along with the national portal, he said that an initiative called track child software was started in West Bengal on a pilot basis, with help from UNICEF.

Soon it may be implemented in other States where the authorities concerned can access it.

BANGALORE, February 26, 2013


The good news is that most young runaways are traced



Family issues play a big role in children running away from home

Though scores of children routinely go missing every month across the State, a majority are eventually traced and reunited with their families, thanks to committed child activists, concerned public, government-backed helplines and the police.

Child helpline coordinator Jennifer estimated the success rate at 60 per cent. "We usually find at least 15 children in Bangalore city every day. Many are found in railway stations and bus stands. Most of the boys are aged between 11 and 15 and girls between 14 and 18," she said.


Runaways make a dash for it for a variety of reasons. "Many are curious about bigger cities; others come in search of work while some leave due to peer influence, problems in schools or in their families. In fact, family issues are the prime factor in most cases, Ms. Jennifer said.

Most runaways end up as labourers hired illegally in small businesses. Raids conducted under the Urban District Commissioner G.C. Prakash in Bangalore resulted in the rescue of 50 children in January and last week.

Vasudev Sharma, executive director of Child Rights Trust, said that many missing children are forced into child labour. "They may be forced to work in hotels and small industries, and even get dragged into prostitution. They are also used for begging, stealing and in other petty crimes," he said.


Following a writ petition (Civil 5365 of 2012), the Delhi High Court on February 13, 2013 directed the Railway Ministry to provide care and protection to children found on trains and railway platforms.

Mr. Sharma said that though it is applicable all over the country, it would help if the Karnataka High Court too came up with a specific order for the State.

In cases where the missing children may have got into petty crimes, NGOs refer them to the Special Juvenile Police Unit (SJPU), which deals specifically with children in conflict with the law.


SJPU Coordinator P.N. Basavaraj said that in one such case, a runaway minor from West Bengal, who had come to Bangalore in search of work, was involved in circulation of fake currency notes. "In such cases, a child-friendly procedure has to be adopted. As he provided us with the address of his home in Kolkata, we immediately [contacted] his family following which he was reunited with them," he said.


Last year, 4,124 children were reported missing in Karnataka. Of this, Bangalore City and District together accounted for 1,674 cases. In Bangalore city alone, 1,420 children were reported missing in 2012. Of this, 767 were boys (536 were traced) and 653 were girls (606 were traced).

4,031 CALLS

Fr. Jose P., director of Missing Child Bureau, said that the bureau specifically received 4,031 calls about children missing from all over the State in 2012, of which 2,614 were from Bangalore Urban district (including city limits).

"Many of the families approach NGOs but are not ready to file a police complaint, thereby making it difficult to detect such cases. We consider only those calls reported by families searching for their children as missing cases. There are also cases where children leave their houses in the morning and are found at railway stations selling wares or go out of the city without their parents' knowledge, but return by evening," he said.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

BANGALORE, February 26, 2013




Gender skew in missing children statistics cause for worry



Data shows that the number of missing girls exceeds boys by over 100

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court criticised the Union and State governments for what it termed as "extreme casualness" on the issue of missing children.

Though the official statistics for Karnataka, and Bangalore, are not as abysmal as it is in other States, these numbers reveal several micro trends that are serious cause for concern.

First, and not surprisingly, the numbers are skewed towards girls. Data provided by the City Crime Records Bureau for the past three years (2010-2012) show that each year the number of missing girls in the 15-18 age group exceeds boys by over 100. In 2012, for instance, 522 girls in this age group went missing, as against 416 boys.

This is not the case in the young age group (0-14) where the number of boys missing outnumbers the girls by two or even three times. In fact, a closer breakup reveals that most of the missing girls in this category are concentrated in the 11-14 age group, a trend that is as revealing as it is disturbing. Experts, and those on the field, say that these numbers confirm that a large majority of missing girls are being trafficked into sex work, and a smaller section into domestic work.


Second, the State-wide numbers reveal another climbing statistics. Over the years, numbers of missing girls (again in the 14-18 age group) in districts surrounding and near Bangalore is on the rise.

Among the top districts on this list are Tumkur (113), Kolar (78), Hassan (92), Mandya (112) and Chickballapur (62). Compared to a few years ago, say 2009 and 2010, these numbers have increased by as much as 20 per cent.

This trend was taken note of at a recent seminar on gender and the police force organised by the State police. An encouraging statistics is the fact that the number of missing children traced is comparable to the missing numbers. However, a senior police official pointed out that the figures are not related, given that many missing children travel out of the city, and are often found in other States.


Speaking to The Hindu, Nina Nayak, member of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), said that there is a huge element of underreporting in such cases, particularly when it comes to girls. "Earlier, the problems would start with reluctance of the police to file an FIR. While such problems have been solved to an extent today, with increasing consciousness, the ground reality is that a lot of trafficking of girl children is often with families being in the know," she said.

Getting around this problem is a big challenge and requires fresh thinking, she said. For instance, she suggests a more vigilant approach to child protection, one that could involve local bodies, and primarily schools. "Schools should become the centre of intervention. First, all children must be in school, and once that happens, schools should actively keep tabs on girl children. For instance, if a student in middle school goes missing, and it is not reported, she could have been married off or sold. Only the school can keep tabs on this kind of thing," she added.