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Child rights representatives presenting the alternative report on the implementation of the UNCRC to Tamilnadu State Commission for Women Chairperson R.M.Ramathal in Chennai on Wednesday.
CHENNAI: “My alcoholic father used to beat me every night. I slept for less than two hours at times,” said 16-year-old Hamsa Raj, a child rights representative. “People ask us to dream. We don’t even get to sleep,” he said.
Raj, along with many other children, spoke about the daily violation of their rights and dignity at a programme organised to release an alternative report, prepared by child representatives across Tamil Nadu, on the implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) here on Wednesday.
The report is the outcome of two years of study by child representatives who made field visits, took photographs and did interviews with children undergoing abuse. India is a signatory to the UNCRC and has a variety of obligations mandated by the convention.
“Street children are especially vulnerable to abuse. Many children are picked from the road and sold off into prostitution or to the beggar mafia,” said Raj. “Most do not go to schools. They go to jobs where they are mistreated and have scars on their bodies when they come back from work in the evening.”
Other representatives spoke about a variety of issues from the poor quality of noon meals in their school, teachers who never come to class and the fate of runaway children who end up in juvenile homes.
“While compiling the report, we were shocked to come across many schools where Dalit children are still made to clean toilets. Most government school teachers act like military officers. There needs to be care, understanding and more discussion,” said 14-year-old Bharat Kumar.
Pointing out that teachers need to pay more attention to the welfare of underprivileged children who do not have family support, R.M.Ramathal, Chairperson, Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women, said, “Children must be treated as our equals and there must be a process of consultation to understand their feelings. They have the required intelligence and character to participate in society.”
“Children need to speak about their own rights. Only then, the government will listen,” she added. She, later, released the report and child representatives presented her a copy.
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