24 Mar 2010

India needs a new law for Sexual Violence against Children

Yesterday’s and Today’s headlines:

4 Arrested for Raping Minor for Two Years in Mumbai

Minor says raped by 9, including 71-yr-old

Medical tests confirm rape of 12-year-old

India has no national law on Child Sex Abuse (CSA) where the abuse does not include penetration, while in recent years there has been a spurt in reporting of such cases.

Some STATS to mull over:

       53.22% of children in India reported being sexually abused; 50% of those abuses were by persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility;

       Over 70% of children in India surveyed for the report did not report sexual abuse, and in a study on Women's Experiences of Incest and Childhood Sexual many stated that they did not realize that they had been abused as children

       Over 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 have experienced forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact around the world

       About 19% of the world’s children live in India and constitute over 42% of India’s population.


       India’s National Policy for Children, 1974, declared children to be “a supreme national asset” and pledged to secure and safeguard their needs.
       The  Integrated Child Protection Scheme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, launched  in 2009, after being provided for in the XIth Plan, also talks aboutChild Protection’.  
       And, India is one of the earliest signatories to The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

And still as of date India has no specific law covering CSA.

Then how does the system operate?

Sec 377 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) which covers “Unnatural sex” is widely used in prosecuting such cases. This section, adopted in 1860, is also used for Gay/lesbian relationships. Currently, Child Sex Abuse may also be prosecuted, in India,  as Rape (sec. 375), Outraging the modesty of a woman (sec. 354), Unnatural offences (sec. 377) and Attempt (sec. 511)

 Please note that none of these sections protect boy victims, and none protect from sexual acts besides traditional peno-vaginal penetration.

The CSA Bill, on roads to becoming an Act, chronological update

Goa Children’s Act, 2003
Given the scenario, child rights activists and NGOs have long been demanding a separate act to address CSA. The Goa Children’s Act 2003 was first off the ground. However, the Act has not been successfully in obtaining convictions in cases of CSA and is riddled with gaps.

Offences against Children’s  Bill
A few years ago the Ministry for Women and Child Development(MWCD) developed a new draft bill, The Offences against Children’s  Bill,  to cover the lacunae in several other acts relating to children. It also included a section on CSA. The draft bill was submitted by MWCD to the Ministry of Law and Justice , which returned the bill asking for changes. After a hiatus of a couple of years MWCD submitted the bill to the National Commission for Child Rights (NCPCR) asking for a recommendation. NCPCR held a national consultation in January on the bill and shared the revised bill.  We looked at the bill and found that the section on CSA is full of gaps.

CSA Bill
CHILDLINE India Foundation has been fighting court battles with child sex offenders and one of our cases is in India’s Supreme Court. We approached the Maharshtra State Government, in 2008, on the inadequacies of the law on CSA and the then Dy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri RR Patil committed to introducing a new law to address the menace of CSA. To that end we organized a consultation of NGOs in Mumbai and worked with Michelle Mendonca of International Justice Mission in researching, and presenting, the gaps in existing Indian laws on CSA. When Valerie Gaimon , a talented American Lawyer joined hands as a volunteer with us we took the steps to developing a draft of  what a new proposed law  on CSA should be. This will now be presented to the State Government of Maharashtra as well as to NCPCR.

We are clear that India needs a new law to combat Sexual violence on India’s children. The new law needs to cover all substantive aspects as well as cover procedural aspects of CSA cases.

22 Mar 2010


Last week a lot of news alerts came up with Headlines like:

And these headlines made go back to the studies done by us especially a study titled "Living with Stones". This published study was done in 2008 in Gujarat and focuses on children in limestone mines. The report provides an analysis for developing a Child Protection program among such children.


The stone quarries of Gujarat resound with the patter of tiny arms and legs straining to break the large  hunks of stone. These are the children of migrant mineworkers, displaced from their homes, separated from friends and pulled out of school, as their parents seek temporary livelihood in the stone quarries of Gujarat.

There’s a documentary film, which is a part of CHILDLINE report which examines the uprooted lives of these children who are forced , by circumstances, into hard physical labour; in the context of mammoth, financially viable cement industry of India.

The key findings of the study are:
       86% of the children were from migrant families who have migrated from within Gujarat and other states like Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh
       95% of the children are from landless families
       73% of the children mainly in the age group of 6 to 18 were found helping their parent in mines
       They were found involved in almost all the activities of mining such as breaking and collecting stones, blasting and loading etc
       Both male and female children were found involved in all the activities
       Major reason given by the children for working is poor economic condition. Children do not get wages individually and wages are given to the family
       More than 66% of the children work for more than 8 hours in a day.
       Children suffer from various types of health problems such as cold & cough, skin diseases, respiratory problems, and fatigue.
       About 86% of the children have been injured while working or in mines.
       There are no basic facilities provided in the mines such as housing, toilet, safe drinking water, electricity.
       Aanganwadi facilities and primary health services.77% of the children in mines were not going to school.
        Out of the total children who do not go to school, 33% have never attended and 67% have dropped out for various reasons like migration, family crisis, and school at far off distances.

20 Mar 2010

Child Labour and the CHILDLINE experience of reaching out

The number of cases where CHILDLINE teams have heard about the existence of child labour and gone to rescue the children has been on rise in the last few years. For instance, in Mumbai Western suburbs where CIF directly manages the CHILDLINE intervention unit, from July to December 2008, the CHILDLINE team handled 146 cases of child labour. A large number of cases are related to children working in restaurants and small dhabas. The calls are mostly from concerned adults who call up CHILDLINE.

We play the role of a catalyst for child protection by facilitating the work of CHILDLINE across the country. The maximum numbers of calls received are related to the issue of Child Labour; though the total number of cases do not always get documented as the cases of child labour. For instance, when a child labour calls for medical assistance, sometimes the CHILDLINE team classifies the calls as the call for medical assistance, even though they might have helped them for their basic condition.

When the CHILDLINE team receives a call regarding a child worker in abusive condition, the CHILDLINE meets with the caller/child to assess the situation. CIF's primary objective and policy is to withdraw the children from employment. However, the intervention in each case is based on best interest of the child. CHILDLINE is regularly in touch with the labour department and police. At the time of raids, the CHILDLINE team goes with the officers from the labour commissioners, and most of the times also with Police. The FIR is filed by the labour commissioner. The CHILDLINE team is with the children through the process of rescue and then the children are produced before the Child Welfare Committee(CWC). An important goal is also to acquire compensation for the children, which is given in the form of National Savings Certificate. In many cases, the CHILDLINE team on advice of the CWC goes to the source villages to counsel the parents about continuing the child's education.

In the work of CHILDLINE we have felt that unless the society at large becomes sensitive to the issue of employing child labour and takes their right to childhood seriously, there will always be justification - in the name of poverty and lack of educational facilities – for their involvement in the economic activities.

11 Mar 2010


On 15th Jan’10 we celebrated the Mumbai CHILDLINE Street Children’s Party at BMC Krida Bhavan, Near Shivaji park, Dadar. Street kids from across Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan including our partners’ shelter kids and CHILDLINE team members of Mumbai came together to party hard. There was food, there was drinks, there was music and unlimited masti.

This day is very special for each and every child who comes to the party. As most of them celebrate this day as their birthday since they have no memories of a family or birth year. For them it’s their very own birthday party and they look forward to with much cheer and anticipation. Well, we definitely know that for sure, coz somewhere roughly around the time, the Didis and Bhaiyas start getting calls, asking them ‘Apun ka party kab hoenga?’. 

This was the 13th CHILDLINE Birthday party and 1000 children came to have a ball of a time. For those who wanted to chill a bit and take a break from dancing to hard to bollywood music there were also these various stalls for games, mehandi, face painting and tattoo.

 Amidst balloons and streamers and other festivities, the kids also came up with some performances of their own (prepared in advance). Volunteers from colleges, organisations helped us in decoration, registration and logistics/work for the day. And if all of this wasn’t enough to get their tummies rumbling, there was yummy treats and drinks and finally the Biryani dinner.

Ms. Sheela Sail, DCP, Enforcement was the chief guest for the event. The other guests were Mr.Bhavaskar, ACP of Special Police Unit and Mr. Dinakar, General Manager, Telecom. 

 Last but not the least a huge congregation of the Child Helpline International, Asia Pacific members, also in town for a conference came to the party and danced away to latest bollywood hits with the kids. 

8 Mar 2010

CHILDLINE's Amateur Branch Accomplishes Master's Task: Unearths Bonded Labor Swindle

CHILDLINE Services started ringing in Ghaziabad in the month of March, 2010. Looking at the rapid real estate development with big business houses and software companies coming in past five/six years, Ghaziabad is considered as a significant part of National Capital Territory, Delhi. At the same time there are also small pockets at the outer parts of the main city whose livelihood very much depends on small scale industry related works. Children from the distant part of North India are brought here to do these works which includes Zari industries, Bindi making, to work as support staff in the Dhabas and as domestic help also.

During an outreach asctivity on May 13, 2010, the CHILDLINE's team identified children working in Zari industry. Looking at the urgency of the case and poor condition of children CHILDLINE requested the Labour Department and Police to conduct the rescue May 16, 2010. At last moment the Labour Department had to back-out due to resource crunch. However, the operation went ahead with the support from Local Police Department and seven children were rescued from Khushal Park .

The Children were brought to the police station for taking their statement and filling a FIR against the employers. During the interaction with the Children, the police and team came to know that the children were allegedly harassed, brutally beaten and were living under hazardous circumstances. The interview also revealed the following:
  • The working hour of children were very long hours (7:00 A M to 11:00 PM)
  • They were not paid any amount as their monthly salary or stipend for the period of their association with the employers.
  • They had limited mobility specially those who lives with the employers.
Late evening FIR was filed under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act 2000, Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Bonded Labour Act 1976 and related section of IPC, 1860. This was first time in the history of Ghaziabad when FIR has been filled under Bonded and Child Labor Act in the district of Ghaziabad.
After which the children were taken for medical test in the late evening and with the due order of City Magistrate kept in the shelter home.
The children are now happy with their parents and not working any more.

7 Mar 2010

CHILDLINE's Transparency and Accountability Wins Accolade

CHILDLINE India foundation (CIF) won CSO Partners' Outstanding Annual Report Awards for the Voluntary Sector on March, 6, 2010 in New Delhi .

This year's theme for the award was 'transparency and accountability'. CIF's Annual Report was chosen over 240 entries, which competed for the honor.

An Annual report is an important instrument for ensuring transparency and accountability of any organization. Therefore, to recognize and promote quality in annual reports, CSO Partners have constituted "CSO Partners' Outstanding Annual Report Awards" in association with Financial Management Service Foundation, Credibility Alliance and Murray Culshaw Consulting.

The ceremony took place in The India Habitat Center - New Delhi on March 6, 2010 and the award was received by Shreeja Kanoria, former Program Coordinator, Communication and Strategic Initiatives, CIF.
This award provided a recognition and promotion to the good standards and practices adopted by CIF in resource management, public distribution, accountability and transparency in annual reporting . Moreover, it also highlighted the overall credibility of the organization in the non-profit sector.

This is like Karmic cycle finishing one circle. As, some years back Ms. Jeroo Billimoria, held a conference in Pune to set up a model for credibility alliance in NGOs.

This award is recognition of CHILDLINE's consistent efforts for transparency. It is highlighted by the fact that CHILDLINE India Foundation always puts a complete soft-copy of its Annual Report on its website for everyone's access and perusal.