Ms. Maneka Gandhi,
Ministry of Women & Child Development
Given below is the response by the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) on the Draft National Child Protection Policy (18 December, 2018) circulated by the Ministry of Women & Child Development. We do hope that our suggestions are considered seriously and proper steps taken by the Ministry to ensure that a proper Policy is formulated.
Suggestions on WCD Ministry’s Draft National Child Protection Policy (18 December, 2018)
*This is more a proposed guideline for Organizations, Institutions and Establishments (including Media) than a statement of national policy which should elaborate a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by the government;
* It consists of certain guidelines for employers/ contractual workers, but it is silent on the largest area in which the present amended Child Labour Prevention Act allows children to be engaged, namely, in so-called ‘family establishments’; the silence proves that we were right in our earlier demand that this exemption given in the law must be withdrawn for true protection of children;
* The document also fails completely to address the question of protection of children from abuse within the family.
* The declaration in annexure 1 is for ‘employees’ in organizations and institutions, what about the employers themselves without whose collusion, abuse of children at work (which includes non-sexual torture and exploitation) would hardly be possible?
* Since the WCD ministry’s circular is closely followed by the news that amendments to the POCSO Act 2012 have been approved by the Cabinet ( Indian Express, 30 December, 2018, p.1) we would venture to add that the proposed amendments which would extend the punishment for aggravated penetrative sexual assault against both male and female children up to a maximum of life imprisonment or even death penalty would be infructuous unless there are systemic changes in over-all law enforcement and prosecution, not to speak of the negative effect that the threat of death penalty is likely to have on the reporting of such crimes. In the light of the above information it seems to us that the Ministry’s circular is but a belated and feeble attempt to couch its severe lacunae in implementing POCSO and other child-related laws under the name of a ‘National Child Protection Policy’.
*Instead of devising pious guidelines or hasty legal amendments, the Ministry might find better occupation in bringing out a document on what action they propose to take for the comprehensive protection of the children of our country from ‘abuse, exploitation and neglect’. The present document may only be of some use in the context of the government’s stated initiative. In its present form, in our opinion, its effectuality is bound to be seriously compromised.