A large number of vulnerable children come in contact with the Indian Railways as passengers or as abandoned, trafficked, runway children from their homes. Missing children travelling in trains and homeless children living at the platforms and working in and around the platforms within the Railway Stations are also children who are in need of protection.
It has been universally recognized that every child is a rights holder and, as a unique and valuable human being, has the rights to be safe and be protected from all forms of abuse, violence, neglect and exploitation and to be safeguarded from falling into vulnerable situations. Children living on the railway stations and other transport terminals constitute a highly vulnerable and marginalized section of the society who normally enters the Railway platforms to eke out a living or for the security it offers.
In view of these realities, to protect the best interest of these children it becomes imperative for the railways and other stakeholders to act together so as to ensure them protection while at railway premises. Thus recognizing the role and responsibilities of the Railways authorities, a model Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) was issued by National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
For the purpose of this Protocol
1. A child means any person below the age of 18 years as per the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000
2. A child in need of care and protection at the station and on a moving train means:
Unaccompanied children in need of support
Children travelling alone and is in crisis
Missing children found at the stations or in the moving train
Children being trafficked
Children separated from their family either by missing the train or left out by parents
Children run away from their homes and families
Children living at the station
Children working at station or in train
Injured, ill children at the station
Abused children or vulnerable to abuse
Children involved in drug addiction at the station
Rag picking children
Abandoned including disabled children at the station
3. Child Welfare Committee (CWC): Under section 29 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2006 it a requirement that;
The State Government may constitute for every district, one or more, Child Welfare Committees
The Committee shall consist of a Chairperson and four other members as the State Government may think fit to appoint, of whom at least one shall be a woman and another, an expert on matters concerning children.
The Ministry of Railway has also constituted the Child Welfare Committee at all Divisional level of Indian Railways, headed by the Senior Divisional Security Commandants (Sr. DSCs). Hence, Child Welfare Committee (CWC) means a statutory body under the JJ Act, and the CWC constituted by Railway authorities shall be marked as ‘CWC (Rly)’.
4. Children Assistance Centre at the station means a designated place at every railway station specifically allocated for children in need of care and protection at the station. Such space should have adequate arrangement for food, temporary shelter, clothing, toilet and first aid and medicines. A part of a waiting room may be converted into such facility. It has to be owned by RPF and managed by RPF in collaboration/ with support from voluntary organizations and CHILDLINE- 1098.
Indian Railways shall set up an Indian Railways Child Protection Centre (IRCPC) itself or in association with registered child care and protection voluntary organizations at the major Railway Stations across the country to provide temporary shelter to children in need of care and protection who come in contact with the Railways authorities during odd hours between 8 PM to 8 AM and require night shelter facility.
The Indian Railways shall allocate space at major Railways Stations to open such Centre which shall function as a hub for a group of stations in adjoining distance.
The Railway Protection Force (RPF), Government Railways Police (GRP), CHILDLINE or any concerned adult shall refer children to such Centre. In case the child is being referred by any concerned adult, his/her identity shall be recorded in the register. No child shall be kept at the Centre for more than 24 hours.
The Protocol will detail the set up and its Standards to facilitate the care and support to the children in vulnerable situations. The Railways will manage a Child Helpdesk at the Stations.
Read the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the NCPCR for all the Stakeholders in Safeguarding Rights of Children in Contact with Railways here: http://bit.ly/1j2lbxY