Imphal, Feb 21
Manipur Alliance for Child Rights earnestly appreciates the recent decision of the state government for setting up of two Fast Tract Courts for trial of POCSO Cases. However, the State is yet to approve a very crucial Policy document, i.e. the Draft State Child Policy, 2017 for dealing all the child rights issue in a holistic manner, which remains stuck for the last three years.
The draft policy was submitted to State Government. by the Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) in the year 2017 after a rigorous rectification process, involving key line departments, academicians, media, intellectuals, judiciaries and inputs from NCPCR. The Policy mandated to embark upon for synergizing all line departments , conversance of various child related programmes and schemes, to ensure an enabling child friendly environment to promote and protect child rights effectively in Manipur.
The Chief Minister N. Biren Singh , gave his assurance to adopt the state child policy soon in the state on the 29th September 2017, in a similar hint. Honorable Governor Najma Heptula also expressed her confidence that the state government would earnestly consider implementation of the Policy, on the 30th September, 2018.
In connection with the requirement for a State Child Policy, a statement by MARC said that Since the state is highly inflicted with constant civil unrest situation, bandh and blockades, general strikes, agitations, apart from a perennial armed conflict situation, affecting right to education and right to life of children at the most, MACR strongly felt that a conflict sensitive and Comprehensive State Child Policy could be the best solution to resolve the existing gaps and challenges and address the child rights issues significantly.
Population of Children of Manipur comprises a 38 percent of the total population of the State, our children are is still facing crucial issues, to mention a few; uncontrollable child trafficking, escalating child sexual assault cases, deteriorating child substance abuse phenomenon, issues of lack of rehabilitation, shortcomings on care and treatment of children living with HIV/AIDS , issues of school drop outs, mismatch in the enrolment ratio of students ( almost 70% in private schools and 30% in Govt. schools), unseen child labors population, unreported incidents of child marriages cases etc..
Although the State is implementing bundles of Child welfare Schemes, major challenges faced in the field, are the immense incompatibility of National Flagship Schemes and programmes which lacks conflict sensibility, adaptability in socio-cultural, administrative setups specially in tribal areas across different geographical terrains. Our child rights issues are caused by and manifested with specific local issues having distinct geo-specific characters and unique political environment.
For example the National ICPS guidelines for setting up of VLCPCs is based on Panchayat raj system of India, and it does not explicitly mention about the role and responsibilities of Village Authority and the Autonomous District Councils ( local authorities) operational in the hill areas of Manipur. Similar problem is happened in the case of formation of School Management Committee (SMC) setup under Rights of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act.
Therefore, MACR draws the immediate attention of the State Government and all the Hon’ble legislators of Manipur Legislative Assembly, to debate and discuss on the issue of State Child Policy to make it approve at the earliest.
Lack of a Manipur oriented State Plan of Action for prevention, rescue, rehabilitation of Child trafficking remains as a big intervention gap in combating the serious menace.
Further, Anganwadi Centres under ICDS do not supply locally suitable nutritional foods to the Children, as a result children of the state specially in hills, by and large unwilling to take the supplied ready to east food at Anganwadi centres. These foods should be suitable with local or tribal’s’ food habit and culture.