This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Gargi Priyom. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Giving Children A Voice: 5 Stories From Assam About Poverty And Abuse

We, the students of the centre for inclusive development, at Tezpur University, went to Sivasagar District of Assam, on 7th October 2018. This was for a field immersion programme, that UNICEF Assam organised, in collaboration with District Child and Adolescent Cell, (DCAC) Sivasagar.

The DCAC is a pilot project for adolescent empowerment. Their primary objectives are ensuring child protection and the rights of children and adolescents.

We were privileged to get this opportunity, which involved both office and fieldwork. Our main objectives for the field visits were:

  • To get an overview of the adolescence development and participation programme
  • For DCAC to gain insights into child rights and protection
  • To be aware of the ground reality of child rights and protection in villages
  • To be mindful of the ground reality of child rights and protection in tea gardens

While collecting data, we heard many interesting stories that happened in the field, which showed how children struggled for their rights. Some of these are narrated below:

Story 1: The first story was narrated by a girl; one of her best friends eloped with a guy when they were in class 8 and she was now facing many problems. She explained that the main reason for the elopement was because their parents consumed alcohol every day, and had fights which affected the children. She also told us about many child labour cases in her locality. Several students of her age were dropping out of school in search of manual work, in nearby areas.

It was clear that earning money was more important than going to school, and poverty seemed to be the cause. When their parents couldn’t fulfil their needs, they started to search for work. She also mentioned that there were cases of missing children and nobody knew where they had gone. Some people doubted that they might have become victims of trafficking. The girl expressed that she felt lucky to be learning about life skills from NGO members. She wants to be a teacher.

Story 2: In one case, a child’s father had suffered an accident while working in a factory, and, as a result, he lost his hand. Since the father was the only breadwinner in the family, and he couldn’t work anymore, the child had no choice but to find work and help the family, financially. We observed that the economic hardship of the family forces the child to take up odd jobs.

Story 3: In another story, a girl was pregnant by her brother, and she had found out only after seven months. The whole family was boycotted from the community after the case was out. The NGO workers were helping them as much as possible. The baby was given to the hospital after birth. The girl is not doing anything now, because, whenever she tries to step out of the house, she is humiliated by villagers.

Story 4: There was one incident in which a girl was raped by some of her friends; after this, she ran away to another place in shame. A member of a local NGO called her, and she explained what happened. At first, her father did not want to report the incident to the police, as he was afraid. He was thinking about the pride of the family and her future. He was worried about who would marry her if everyone knew she had been raped, but her mother showed bravery by reporting the case to the police.

Fortunately, the guilty were caught and sent to an observation home. The survivor got psychological treatment and counselling, and now, she is doing better.

Story 5: In yet another story about youngsters running away from home, a girl eloped with a boy, but he ended up leaving her. She returned home with her luggage. In the meantime, her family members became aware of her elopement.

When she returned home, she was beaten up by her father in front of a gathering of people. They blamed and scolded her for what she had done. The Child Protection Committee (CPC) members calmed the situation, and she was rescued from her father. She was given counselling about life skills and the adverse effects of elopement. She is now attending regular classes.

It needs to be mentioned that the NGO members face many problems while trying to stop child marriages. The Kiran NGO has successfully stopped 85 cases of child marriage until now. While doing this, they had to face humiliations, and many of them were threatened for stopping the marriages.

These are some of the stories that we found during our field visits. Through these stories, we realise that children suffer in many ways, in society. The DCAC team in Sivasagar has done outstanding work, with the help of NGOs and CPC members. They spread the importance of child rights, and it creates a voice for children and adolescents.

It would be a very fruitful step if this pilot project is applied in every district of Assam, and other states too. Society needs these kinds of cells to protect the future of the whole world.

*Feature image for representational purposes only.

You must be to comment.

More from Gargi Priyom

Similar Posts

By iProbono

By Purva Bharati Educational Trust

By Amoli Trust

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

Read more about the campaign here.

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.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below