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In the wake of the brutal rape of a five-year-old girl last week, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has now formulated child protection guidelines to cover different physical, emotional and sexual abuse, to address child abuse within schools and other institutions.
"The guidelines take into account all stakeholders and address the requirements spelt out in Rule-31 of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012. While a draft of the guidelines has been prepared with inputs from experts in all fields, we are inviting public comments till the end of April," Arun Mathur, Chairperson, DCPCR, told Newsline.
The draft guidelines, which have drawn upon the international best practices and have referred to the existing constitutional and legal frameworks relevant in combating child abuse, will be presented to the Delhi government in May for a formal notification.
The initial consultation on the formulation of these guidelines was organised by the Commission, along with Women and Child Development Minister Kiran Walia, the Chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), Dr Shantha Sinha, Advisor of the UNICEF and Member of the National Advisory Council (NAC) Shiva Kumar, and the Chief Secretary of Delhi besides other department heads, NGOs and experts in the field.
"The commission also took note of the views of police, Child Welfare Committees (CWC), NGOs, representatives of concerned departments and other legal experts/child right activists," Mathur said.
India does not have a comprehensive set of guidelines for the prevention of child abuse at the state or the central level, even though she is a signatory to a host of International covenants and instruments focusing on child protection.
Dr Shantha Sinha, Chairperson of NCPCR, said no other State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has drafted guidelines for "prevention" of child abuse so far.
"Even though I haven't seen the final draft, I have been involved at the consultation stage and the DCPCR has done a very good job," Sinha told Newsline.
"Child abuse was and continues to be one of the most heinous crimes perpetuated by human beings. Hence, there is a strong need for comprehensive guidelines to address instances of child abuse in all institutions, whether residential or educational, religious or charitable, registered or non-registered," Mathur said.
The guidelines lay down broad principles of the child protection safeguards. There is an emphasis on the need for awareness and education regarding the issue, not only in residential facilities and schools, but also at the family and community level.
Since Rule-60 (1) of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 lays down the need for every institution to have systems to prevent abuse, the guidelines have also incorporated a model child protection policy as an annexure.
"It was also considered important that the prevention of child abuse guidelines should include some documents relevant and useful for all stakeholders in a post-abuse scenario. These guidelines have been put through a process of rigorous scrutiny and efforts have been made, as far as possible, to ensure that they are not in conflict with any existing law," Mathur said.
What is child sexual abuse?
Involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, for which the child is not developmentally prepared, or that which violates the law or social taboos
Children can be sexually abused by both adults and other children who are in a position of responsibility, trust or power over the victim
Facts & Figures
» A 2011 report of the National Crime Records Bureau accounts for 12.8 per cent of all crimes against children and 4.8 per cent of child rapes in Delhi
» Two-thirds of all children in the city physically abused; every second child subjected to emotional abuse
» Several cases of abuse reported while the child is going to or returning from school
» A study titled Sexual Abuse of Street Children found over 15% of the boys in an observation home reported penetrative sexual abuse, the maximum cases (42.9 per cent) reported in age group 8 years-10 years