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Tamil Nadu urged to enact law against child abuse

By Our Staff Correspondent

NEW DELHI Nov. 12. Disturbed by the increasing incidents of child rights abuse in Tamil Nadu, the National Commission for Women (NCW) has asked the State Government to enact a comprehensive legislation, incorporating the rights of the child as defined under the Constitution and various United Nations conventions.

The Commission, in its recommendations sent to the Chief Minister, J. Jayalalithaa, has suggested setting up a statutory body with specific powers to monitor and award punishments in all cases of torture and sexual abuse of children.

Talking to reporters here today to discuss the outcome of a public hearing in Chennai on violation of the girl child's rights, the NCW chairperson, Poornima Advani, said this had become necessary in the wake of an increase in instances of such violations in the State. Of the 37 cases from Tamil Nadu that came before the jury, six pertained to torture, sexual abuse and poor standards in school; 15 to rape and murder; 9 to child labour and bonded labour; two to child marriages and dowry harassment; three to torture; one to discrimination; and another to discriminatory religious practice. A large number of victims were dalits and belonged to poor families.

The Commission has been irked by a complaint lodged by a non-governmental organisation, Political Watch, alleging that the authorities raided their offices and took their staff ``into custody' simply because they had raised several cases of exploitation at the public hearing. ``I have written to the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister on the issue,'' Ms. Advani said.

Pointing out that the Prevention of Atrocities Against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be strictly enforced in crimes against children, Ms. Advani said discriminatory religious practices, including the ritual of pledging girls to the deity, Mathamma, in Tiruvallur district, should be stopped. The traditional caste panchayats too should be abolished. ``The main reason for the increasing employment of children are exploitation, poverty and the failure of the State to guarantee the right to live in dignity and security,'' she said.

The NCW suggested that the National Human Rights Commission should appoint a special rapporteur on violence against children.

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