Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has expressed concern over an astonishing number of children growing up on the State's streets as child beggars, child hawkers and this phenomenon has not yet received the policy attention it deserves.
On the eve of Children’s Day, the Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights has called for strengthening the child protection systems, which is the core commitment for children.
In a letter to Women and Child Development Minister Vishwajit Rane, GSCPCR chairman Peter Borges said that an analysis of the system indicates that Goa is lagging, with poor implementation and under-utilisation of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, now Mission Vatsalya.
Mission Vatsalya Scheme was launched as a roadmap to achieve development and child protection priorities, laying emphasis on child rights, advocacy and awareness along with strengthening the juvenile justice care and protection system.
He said that as a monitoring and recommendatory statutory body, the Commission has been able to make little headway, with several recommendations not being complied with. "All of us in the child protection ecosystem, including the children, desire your intervention," Borges said in the letter.
He said that children today face myriad risks such as separation from parents and caregivers, family violence, sexual abuse and exploitation including online, disabilities, bullying and violence in schools and communities, justice-related issues, living and working on the streets, dangerous labour, substance abuse, trafficking, HIV and AIDS and inability to meet basic needs.
He pointed out that the shoddy response to children in street situation despite a well-designed standard operating procedure for rescue and rehabilitation and direction by Supreme Court is of great concern. This, he added, has increased the risks and vulnerabilities in children leading to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment, and isolation.
Borges said that non-recruitment of personnel for the District Child Protection Unit has worsened the system. "For several years, there has been no strong social service workforce to assist the larger ecosystem with timely outreach services and interventions. Further, since July, this year, the Childline (1098) which was taken over by the government is under-resourced with funds as well as non-recruitment of personnel, weakening the response system to children in distress," he wrote in the letter.
Peter F Borges, GSCPCR Chairperson
He added that there was a need to overhaul the system and invest in innovative solutions to improve children’s access to justice systems that are child-friendly, gender-sensitive and well-resourced.
The GSPCR has volunteered to work with stakeholders in the system to address the issues affecting vulnerable children. Borges said that there is a need to start looking at children as equal citizens of today as "investing in them will mean investing in our future."