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The Normalization Of Child Abuse In India: When Will We Wake Up To The Stark Reality?

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By Rahul Muralidharan:

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” — Nelson Mandela

If we were to take Mandela’s words to heart, we, as a nation, would possess a much kinder soul. Children are our most valuable resource. They are the clay that can be shaped to form the strong pillars of our future society. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little done to ensure their well being and safety. India is among the world’s worst countries for child safety. India is the 6th most unsafe country for children after the likes of Sudan, Uganda, Congo, Iraq and Somalia. Wonderful! We seem to be in the top 10 of at least one list. It is a matter of shame that a nation that aims to be the next superpower is unable to ensure a life of safety for its most vulnerable citizens.

Child abuse

Last week, there was a horrific case of a 6 year old girl Anusha who died by falling into Sāmbar. Really, it sounds so ridiculous. But the sad truth is that Anusha, a first grade student of Government High School, D Palya, Bangalore fell into a vessel of hot Sāmbar while jostling for space to stand in a queue to avail the mid-day meal. She sustained severe burn injuries, struggled for around 12 hours and breathed her last in the Victoria Hospital. The cooks failed to ensure that the children were at a safe distance from the hot vessels. The case of negligence in children’s safety is not rare. Just last month, the ‘Midday Meal Tragedy’ as it was called, made the rounds in national media. On 16 July 2013, children at the Dharmashati Gandaman primary school, Bihar complained that their lunch, served as a part of the Midday Meal Scheme, tasted odd. Their complaints fell on deaf ears. Thirty minutes after eating the meal, the children complained of stomach pain and soon after were taken ill with vomiting and diarrhea. Around 27 children died of poisoning. Apparently the oil container that was used for cooking had previously stored organophosphate, an insecticide. There was the usual blame game by the political class deflecting their responsibilities.

There are daily news reports of children drowning, run down by trucks and killed by stray dogs. Sexual abuse and child labor are some of the dire challenges that children face. A 7 year old girl was raped in a popular school at Vasco, Goa by a stranger who came into the school. According to the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), nearly 50 lakh children are employed as laborers. These dismal facts and statistics reflect the pathetic condition children in India. However, all hope is not lost. There are a lot of active organizations such as Child Rights and You (CRY) and Childline India Foundation that aim to better the lot of children. We can also do our part by engaging with similar organizations, show empathy towards children, make sure we think of their safety in our daily actions and most importantly, spread awareness. Only through the combined efforts of all of us as a society, can we make India a safer place for the children.

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  1. K.B.Srivastava

    Since freedom of our country, GOI and State Governments sanction enough money each year to reduce child abuse and poverty, but government employees embezzle all amount and poor people get nothing. Therefore, money sanctioned for welfare of society should be transferred in account of 16.40Cr poor families(82 Cr people whose vote elect the government) directly. Therefore political parties which want to win election should amend the working procedure of government offices and it should mention in its manifestoes that (1)Guardian of children will be advised not to leave children alone for rapists, but they should be looked after by their grand father/mother/nana/nanis etc.(2) Poor villagers do not have toilets in their houses. Their ladies go outside of their houses for toilets in bushes, mujas, sugarcane and arhar crops where they are raped and murdered. Our party will transfer amounts sanctioned for social welfare in accounts of 16.40Cr poor families(82Cr people whose vote make the government) directly to enable them construct their toilets in their houses.(3) In all states an extra post of female home minister and female DGP will be created under whom a large number of female police personnel will be deputed to ensure security of women and solve the problem of unemployment.(4) All girls will be provided a pistol free of cost with bullets containing anaesthesia to get the culprits unconscious so that he can not rape. The lions are also shot to get them unconscious before their treatment.(5) Our party is well aware that there are 80.8Cr young voters in India (whose vote make the government) and if they stay in hotels with their wives or girl friends they are raided by the police for prostitution which create a disturbance to them. Some of them who are unable to pay bribes are sent to jail also. Our party will make such provision that hotels will not be raided for prostitution and action against khap panchayatas and others will be taken ;who are against of freedom of young voters and young voters will not have to go to Russia, Europe, Australia or America for more freedom.(6) Some poor mothers go to work for brick kiln and some of them go to other houses to wash utensils, leaving their children alone at home. Some of them are raped and some of them are murdered. Therefore, in each mohalla a creche will be opened where these children will be admitted and a female constable will be deputed to look after these children. (7) There were no rape cases up to 1955, when pro0stitution was regulated in India. Prostitution is still legal in India, but it is punishable up to a distance of 200 meters from a public place like schools, temple and hospitals etc. But after 200 meters, regulations have ;to be framed by the government. So to reduce number of rape cases, our party will regulate it as ;it was in 1955.(8) There is shortage of girls in India in comparison of boys. So all boys can not be married. Therefore if foreign girls come in India and stay in hotels for fulfilling sexual desires of Indians, hotels will not be raided for prostitution.(9) Central and State Governments sanction enough amount to abolish poverty each year. But these amounts are embezzled by the government employees. For example, in financial year 2013-14, GOI has sanctioned Rs6.3585kharab for Indira Awas Yojna, Rs19.272kharab for Sarva Sikchha Abhiyan, Rs9.0155kharab for Mid Day Meal, Rs4.8642kharab for National Social Mission, Rs25kharab for National ;Rural Health Mission, Rs7.6678kharab for Backward Region Grant fund, Rs10.850kharab for Integrated Child Development Service, Rs2.9006kharab for National Rural Livelihood Mission, Rs13.50kharab for Food Security and Rs1.8kharab for subsidy on fuel. Grand total of all amount is Rs102.3285kharab+Rs400/- per month of gas subsidy .Although, these amounts are sanctioned in different heads and under different schemes, but all these amounts are not for development but for social welfare. Such amounts are also sanctioned by State Governments too. Our party will transfer these amounts ;directly(DBT) in accounts of 16.40Cr poor families (82Cr people whose vote elect the government) and thus each poor family will receive more than Rs12000/- per month as pension. But families whose income is more than Rs15000/- per month will not be entitled for ;such pension. Our party is well acquainted that Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isai. All poor are bhai bhai. Thus children of poor families will be able to get admitted in good schools and poor patients will be able to treat themselves in good and private ;hospitals.(10) Robot army, drone and fighter air plane will be deputed at borders and bullet proof jackets to cover whole body will be provided to all soldiers and police personnel.(11) To create more jobs and employment, robot army, drone, bullet proof jackets to cover whole body and fighter air plane etc. will be made in our country and will not be imported from other countries.(12) All people will lodge their FIR on E mail address of the Police Stations and they will not have to go to the Police Stations for lodging FIRs.(13) A provision will be made in our country that acid attackers will be attacked with acid till death.(14) At least there is a question to make police personnel to behave well, instructions of Honourable Supreme Court in this regard will be followed.(15) Number of honourable judges and its staff and female police personnel will be increased (10 times) as per norms of America, so that problem of pending court cases, unemployment and female security can be solved.(16) 15kg grains,5 kg pulse and 2 kg sarso oil will be provided under Food Security Act at the place of 5kg grains.(17) For equality, 50% posts will be reserved for ladies in legislature, judiciary, bureaucracy and in defence also if they like.(18) No tax will be levied except income tax, property tax, import duty, luxury tax and entertainment tax.(19) To solve problem of corruption, moveable and immoveable properties, its present value and annual income of all citizens of India will be computerized and undeclared properties and black money will be seized. Thus poor families who have to receive governments help and rich families, who have to pay property tax, will also be traced easily. Embezzled money will be recovered with interest and corrupt person will be punished with life imprisonment.(20) India is a rich country and we have got 31000tons of gold in our country. Our party will not take loan from any other countries or from World Bank. Budget of deficit will also not be made by our party, but to enhance revenue property tax will be increased. There will be no property tax up to Rs1Cr and above Rs1Cr it will be @10% per year, in which gold of temples, houses, cars, farms and farm houses, gold etc. of all citizens of India will be included in calculation of value of property. For example, Sri Asa Ram Bapu and others like him who have got a property of Rs1500Crore, well have to pay Rs149.90Cr per year as property tax.

  2. K.B.Srivastava

    Manifesto continue: (21) Unskilled labourers will be trained for driving, motor mechanic, mason, carpenter, electrician etc. so that they can earn more.(22) Our party will ask engineers to make such engine which can consume jatrofa oil as fuel at the place of petrol so that India has not to import diesel/petrol etc. from other countries.(23) Our party will fight against China and get the captured ;land of India back.(24) If intelligent professors are not available in India, foreigners will be appointed, but Indian students will not have to go to other countries for their higher studies.(25) Lie detectors will be supplied to all Police Stations and police personnel will not have to beat the culprits.(26) To reduce expenditure of elections, all gram pradhan will be provided laptops and E mail address will be made of all 2.5lack gram pradhans and parshads to whom manifestoes of all parties and work done by the ruling parties will be emailed for vide propaganda.(26) 16.40Cr families (82Cr poor people whose vote elect the government) have not opened their accounts on twitter so far. Therefore, they will be given a laptop free of cost and will be encouraged to open their accounts on twitter and write their ideas for development of India and other countries of the World.(27) Poor farmers/farm labourers have demonstrated in front of U.P. Vidhan Bhawan and they have demanded and requested for a pension of Rs5000/- per month. Our party will transfer Rs5000/- per month in their accounts so that government employees can not embezzle the same.(28) At the time of study, professional training as computer operator, computer mechanic, electrician, mobile mechanic etc. will be given to the students after high school, so that in case they are not employed they can do their own job for their livelihood.(29) To avoid forgery, registrar will be asked not to transfer land/houses till the amount of cheque has been transferred in account of land/house owners. (30) There will be no reservation on the basis of castes and religion, but our party will pay a pension of more than Rs12000/- per month to all poor families of India, so that they can make a progress and get their children admitted in a good school and poor patients can be treated in a good and private hospitals.(31) In our country we have got enough coal to produce electricity, so our party will not import coal, but it will be supplied by our coal industries and solar and bio gas plants will also be established to produce more electricity.(32) At present government schools and hospitals are not performing well. Our party will try our best for their better performance. But if they do not perform well, decision for privatisation will be taken.(33) People will be encouraged for inter caste marriages and will be paid Rs5 lack as award so that caste system would be abolished as soon as possible.(34) Our party will ask Police Stations to lodge FIR on line and honourable lower Courts will also be requested to get their judgment on line as is already being done by honourable Supreme Court and High Courts of India.(35) Our party will not give tickets to criminals, so that criminals can not rule the public. Our party is in support of right to reject. (36) Rs5000/- per month will be transferred in accounts of flood affected families directly for a year, so that government employees can not embezzle the amount of help.(37) Adhar cards will be made of all people quickly, so that missing children can be traced as soon as possible.(38) People who have gone to America are appreciating their constitution, law and working procedure of government offices. So the same constitution, law and working procedure of government offices will be adopted in India.(39) Pakistan is printing Indian currency and purchase goods from our country with fake currency. Thus, we produce and they eat. Necessary action will be taken against the criminals of Pakistan.(40) Income Certificate, Caste Certificate, Residence Certificate and Voter Identity Card, Ration Cards etc. will be sent on E mail addresses of the applicants written by them.(41) There will be no paper work/ no files in government offices, but working procedure of government offices will be on line.(42) Rs5000/- per month will be transferred in accounts of poor divorcees/ vidows who have babies with them till they become adult.(43) Some poor voters are punished with imprisonment on fake charges by corrupt police personnel. Extra judges will be appointed to reopen their cases and get them out of jail.(44) Poor handicapped and poor sr. citizens will be paid a pension of Rs5000/- per month. (45) Remuneration under MGN|REGA will be increased to Rs200/ per day for unskilled labourers and they will get work for 200 days in a year.

  3. K.B.Srivastava

    Manifesto continue (46) Rape cases will be reported to one of the female police stations and pleaded by a female lawyer. Such cases will be decided by a female judge where men will not be allowed to be present so that applicants/petitioners can tell her grievances frankly.

  4. Ektha

    May be this is what happens when we fail to look at respectful behaviour as a two way street. Adults in Indian demand to be respected and kids are kids they don’t know anything, why should they be respected. We have forgotten that they too are human beings and deserve to be respected because unlike us adults they are innocent and have nothing to do with evil.

    Aakhir bache hi toh hai….mar gaye toh kya, ghoom hue toh kya- aur peda kar lengi, usme hum duniya ke baap hai…(pun-intended)

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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