TED NewsDesk, New Delhi: The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), the supreme fraternity of child rights in India, has ordered the states constituting the maximum number of children in care homes to send them back to their families. They concluded the same to comprehend the fact that the upbringing of a child in a family-centred surrounding is his/her right. NCPCR informed, the fact that these children are not safe, both inside and outside the care homes, is one of the significant reasons to restore them to their families.
A total of eight Indian states constitute approximately 70% of kids in child care institutions. Out of 2.56 lakh children in India, 1.84 lakh are in care homes combining the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Mizoram, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Meghalaya. NCPCR has allocated 100 days for the collectors and district magistrates of these eight states to ensure the order of sending back these children to their respective families. The authorities will have to facilitate adoption or foster home provision for the remaining kids.
Priyank Kanoongo, Chairperson, NCPCR, said that they would execute the plan through various steps. The movement will begin from these eight states, followed by the remaining ones in the country. He added that the council would frame an outline to carry out their “100-day target” of sending back the children in a meeting with the concerned blocks.
“The principle of the Juvenile Justice Act is to keep children with families, and keeping children in child care homes must be the last resort till all attempts are made to give them an atmosphere of home,” he stated.
“It was observed in south India that some CWCs (child welfare committees) are ordering to keep children in children homes due to the poverty of the family. You cannot take away the right to a family from a child because of poverty. It is the failure of the state if due to poverty, the child is forced to reside in child care homes. The state must strengthen the family so that they could take care of their children,” he informed PTI.
On September 24, NCPCR wrote a letter to these eight states post its assessment of the social audit account of these care homes. It mentioned that five States in the southern region have the highest number of child care institutions (CCIs) with Children in Need of Care and Protection (CNCP), “which paints an unsettling picture indicating a pitiable condition of children in these CCIs”.
“Further in a few northeastern states, the number of children placed in the CCIs in ratio to the total population that each such state has. It was observed by the Commission that the number of CNCPs residing in these CCIs are in excess which pose a potential risk to the rights and protection of these children. Such a vast number of children being deprived of their natural homes and parents is a matter of grave concern,” the committee highlighted in its letter.
“Keeping in view these alarming concerns to the safety and security of these CNCP, the Commission has initiated the exercise of monitoring the repatriation and restoration of the CNCPs placed in various CCIs, except SAA (specialised adoption agency) and Observation Homes,” it wrote.
The NCPCR will supervise and ensure that every CNCP living in these CCIs gets back to his/her family or adoption centres and foster homes. It directed the states to report to the Child Welfare Committee with all CNCPs living in these CCIs for their undelayed repatriation and to provide an update to the Commission. Besides, it also suggested that the entire process of return and reinstatement shall not breach the guidelines released by the Indian government to avoid Coronavirus transmission.
Increasing cases of sexual harassment and child abuse, both in and out of these care homes premises, has led the Commission to take this step. In the preceding years, various cases of assaults in such institutions across the states of Bihar (Muzaffarpur region) and Uttar Pradesh (Deoria region) came to the notice. In a report from 2018, around 34 minor girls at a shelter home. Further, in 2019, reports claimed that a couple who ran a shelter home in Deoria, UP, used to molest girls. A 10-year-old girl who managed to run away from the shelter informed the police following which they conducted a raid and rescued 24 girls.
With such crimes happening across the country, the safety of children and women becomes even more questionable.