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Jonathan Rodrigues,TNN | Nov 14, 2013, 03.31 AM IST
PANAJI: Schools across the state will host cultural programmes to mark Children's Day on Thursday, but what about the children on the streets who are forced to beg?
"We possess an inefficient welfare system that is not reaching out to the migrant population for some reason. If the government authorities permitted their stay here, then it owes them a responsibility of protecting their rights. We cannot afford to be prejudiced as we need the migrants for labour works and if we are employing them we need to provide proper facilities of life and livelihood," says Mathew Kurian, co-founder of El Shaddai, an NGO based in Assagao.
These children are often beaten and sexually abused in their own homes. "Slums were never part of Goan culture and the government should rise above political lines and vote bank politics to arrest the king-pins of this beggary mafia," Kurian adds.
Arun Pandey, who runs 'Arz, India' believes that the biggest problem faced by child rights organizations is the lethargic execution of justice. "It takes nearly three to four years on an average for a case to be heard in the children's court. There is too much of a backlog and children lose focus and refuse to participate in trial proceedings," he informs.
Another important issue pointed out by NGOs is the administration of the shelter for abused children. "Once a child is lodged at Apna Ghar, he is cut off from the rest of the world. There is no monitoring on the development of an individual who is as good as imprisoned," says Sabina Martins, who along with other NGO officials contributed in drafting the Goa Children's Act.
There are those who are vulnerable because of their circumstances and then there are those who are prone to abuse due to their ignorance. "School curriculum must have a compulsory subject on the do's and don'ts of social interaction on the web or in person, to make naive youngsters aware of their surroundings. We need trained teachers to discuss sex education-not the biological aspect, but social." Pandey said.
Compared to other states, records reveal fewer cases reported of sexual abuse in family environments as Goan culture is more open and liberal, but the growing trend of employing young girls from other states as domestic help needs to be well documented, states Martins. "We have proposed to the government to set up a domestic workers' welfare board to primarily ensure that every person employed is a major and to check on abuse," she says .
"There is a need to set up a victim assistance unit in all police stations to attend to children who wish to lodge a complain," suggests Martins. A police official was however quick to point out that there are special women police stations at Margao and Panaji which cater to the exclusive needs of women.
Sociologist Beula Pereira is of the opinion that the increase in crime rates is a positive sign. "More cases being registered reflect that women and children are aware of their rights and no longer ready to be scapegoats in a male-dominated society," she says.