Demand to reduce age of juvenility in heinous crimes unjustified, says Minna Kabir

Aneesha Mathur : New Delhi, Sat Jan 05 2013, 02:39 hrs

At a time when there’s a chorus for showing no leniency to the juvenile among the six arrested for the gangrape of the 23-year-old woman who later died in a Singapore hospital, children’s rights workers are cautioning that laws should not be bent simply because there is public outrage.

Minna Kabir, voluntary children’s rights worker who has long been associated with the legal aid cell at the juvenile justice boards in Delhi, said: “The law says it is not the crime that matters, it is the child standing before you that matters.”

“Why should we treat him as different from other children? If a child has committed a crime, it means society has failed him in one way or another and needs to think about his reform and rehabilitation,” said Kabir whose husband Altamas Kabir is the Chief Justice of India.

She said calls for reducing the age of juvenility for those accused of heinous crimes are unjustified.

“We should strike a balance in our thinking. Instead of reacting with hysteria, various people should come up with constructive ideas to combat the systemic failure that leads to criminality. There is need for proper education, counselling of these children. Society seems to encourage sex, advertisements today are full of sexual situations, we are losing values and that is why such cases are happening,” Kabir said.

Professor Ved Kumari, expert on juvenile justice law and ex-chairperson of the Delhi Judicial Academy, said: “Let our outrage at the absence of safe spaces for women not blind us to the absence of care to children.”

Raaj Mangal Prasad, former chairperson of the child welfare committee, cautioned against a “knee jerk reaction”. “A change in the law will have a negative impact on all children who are in vulnerable positions. What will you do if a 13-year-old is accused of rape and murder?” he said.


# India-Child threatened over homework dies after suicide attempt

A ten-year-old boy who immolated himself in Bijapur succumbed to his injuries on Saturday. The fourth standard student was reportedly depressed because his teacher had threatened to punish him if he did not do his homework.

The child was admitted to hospital with severe burns last week after his suicide attempt. No case has been registered against the teacher. The incident came to light after the boy was found missing at the school prayer meeting.

Ironically,  had just read yesterday, in times of india view and counter view on the issue

Study says homework doesn’t help students score better grades

Dec 1, 2012, 12.00AM IST


Still a key part of education

According to the study carried out by University of Virginia researchers – one in which they looked at the transcripts and grades of more than 18,000 Xth grade students – homework doesn’t necessarily help children get higher grades, although it may help them get better standardised test scores. On the face of it, the criticism is valid in India as well. Students in a large number of schools here – both public and private – are burdened with large amounts of homework from an early age. But to conclude from this that homework per se is unnecessary would be to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Does homework need to be rethought so that it is less of a burden and engages the child more effectively? Certainly. As the co-author said, homework should be used to integrate what is going on in the classroom, not simply make the student work for the sake of working. That being said, having homework in some form at least is essential in the Indian system where teacher quality, interest and student per teacher ratio are all often below acceptable norms. In such an environment where classroom learning can be painfully inadequate, homework’s supplementary effect can be crucial. The homework-free style can only work in an ideal education system, and India’s is very far from that.

Even more importantly, the study only measures a narrow, quantifiable aspect of homework’s effects. There are other intangibles that are crucial. Handling homework equips students with a whole set of work and life skills – from taking responsibility for one’s work to work discipline to learning how to research information – that are essential in work life and higher education. And isn’t learning those skills as much a part of a child’s education as learning how to score well in an exam?


Homework should be abolished

Meghna Roy

School is stressing out our youngsters, as evidenced in the high number of school students committing suicide. We should, therefore, be committed to removing stress from the school system. A primary contributor to stress is the oppressive burden of daily homework foisted on the student. Wrestling with piles of homework, whose load seems to increase every day, parent and kids alike are exhausted in equal measure. The truth is that much of the take-home assignments are simply an act of faith, without benefiting the overworked students.

After long-drawn school hours, kids return home and immediately get down to tackling the day’s homework. Where is the time to relax and do other extra-curricular activi-ties? Little wonder that kids, these days, appear highly-strung and reluctant to go to school. School-related stomachaches, headaches, sleep problems and depression are on the rise. The constant pressure of moving from one deadline to another leaves them perpetually harassed. Parents too have a hard time, often doing a major part of the homework to help out the child. Is homework necessary to get good grades? There’s no foundation for this belief. The fear and pressure of homework exhaust students, killing their curiosity and most importantly their keenness and desire to learn. In many countries like the US, Denmark and Japan, schools have cut down on or entirely eliminated homework, since it contributes nothing to learning or creativity.

At home the debate over homework is yet to have an impact. Even though there’s been discussion around inordinately heavy school bags which burden children, directly linked to the issue of homework. More than a decade ago the Yashpal committee report had proposed concrete suggestions to lessen the school bag load. Regrettably, they haven’t yet come to fruition. Junk the pointless system of homework, and don’t overburden our kids.


Mumbai Children putting adults to shame in their eco friendly Diwali Drive #must share

Aarohi 11
Brihatej 12
Pulkit 11
Naman 12
Kshitij 12
Rahul 12
Ibaad 10
Esha 10

Aarohi  Chaudhuri,  11 years old , Mumbai, Nov 13

Last year ,me and my friends ,  the children of Maker Kundan Gardens and UTI Officers Quarters , in Juhu , celebrated a cracker free Diwali , as Crackers and Fireworks are the single largest cause of respiratory diseases like Bronchial Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis and other Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases. The other reasons are –

  • Levels of Air pollution, which are already high in India, reach astronomical levels on Diwali and can be very harmful to the human body.
  • Crackers release a lot of Ultra-violet and Infrared radiation, which are harmful to the eyes and the body parts.
  • Maximum numbers of Burn cases are reported during Diwali due to the improper use of crackers.
  • Humans might be able to protect themselves, but the crackers have a deep physical and mental impact upon animals.
  • Most of the factories manufacturing crackers employ children. So by bursting we are encouraging Child Labour.
  • Noise pollution due to the sound of these crackers is above the permitted levels. Crackers can cause deafness.We also started donation drive and raised Rs 5,000 which were given to NGOGoon, and this year we again continue .Last year, we were a small group of 6 dedicated children, Aarohi, Pulkit, Rahul, Kshitij, Pranesh, , Naman , Ibad, Esha , Brihataj , but now seeing our success we were joined by more children our numbers increased to 9 children. We are operating on a small scale, only in our locality, in Juhu Mumbai. The children are in age group of 9-13 years.The primary reason we started this was a newspaper article I read sometime in October 2011. It brought to light the death of a child due to being accidently hit on the head by one of those popular toy guns.

One thing that makes me grateful to my friends is the answer they gave their parents as to why they were part of this campaign. I expected something like “My friend told me it was a good idea.”, but definitely not, “I am doing this because I know what would have happened if I had been in place of that child who died due to a makeshift gun.” That truly left me elated.

We also run a Facebook page  called   Eco friendly diwali  which we started last year. We intend to donate what we collected to an acclaimed NGO named Goonj as we did last year.

Even though we collect donations for the downtrodden, the driving focus behind our campaign is to celebrate an eco friendly diwali.

Though many children in our neighborhood still burst crackers, we are not disheartened and are still working towards our goal.

We hope adults also join us , So let’s celebrate Diwali (Deepavali) as a festival of lights, not sound!

for further information contact me –


Akanksha NGO, founded by Shaheen Mistry, Ashoka Fellow, violates RTE Act #discrimination

“Akansha founded by ashoka fellow by Shaheen mistry is running a BMC school in kala chowki , mumbai where they are violating all the sections of Right to Education Act , I made formal complaint regading this to variouse authorities , due to this they are discriminating my son Kabir and today they have not taken Kabir to the picnic and they kept kabir in the school alone , this is the shameful act on the part of Akansha and Shaheen Mistry . “-Shakil Ahmed , contact,9969925602

Dear Shaheen Mistry,

I am a father of a six- year old boy, who, like thousand other parents has been anxious about finding a best educational institution for my child. As a law-practioner and a civil rights activist for over two decades, I have been working on a very close quarters with the education system. One such cause that I have invested my life in is trying to bring in accountability and transparency in state run educational institutions. I along with eight- nine other members, run Parivartan Shikshan Sanstha since 1997, and have been fighting to overcome lack of education facilities for children in the slums of Sangam Nagar, Wadala (east). Our NGO has ensured that a civic school was built in this area in 2006, following a Public Interest Litigation. Akanksha and Parivartan has worked together in the past.Akanksha helped us focus on the quality of education.

So when my son Kabir turned six this year, I knew, keeping all his constitutional rights intact, I had to zero down on one of the near- by schools. I too, like lakhs of parents wished to enroll him in an English medium school. But after several months of research and rejections, I was hit by hard and pressing reality that the admission process in most schools violates every premise of Right to Education Act. I then turned to your organization- Akanksha. And to my shock your school, too, did exactly what private educational institutions did.

Running you through my experience:

Over a month ago my wife Shabana had gone to Prabhud Nagar Municipal School (English medium) Cotton Green, to admit our son Kabir in 1st standard. One of social worker in School run by Akansha, NGO informed   that all seats were already full. When we pressurized to admit out child citing the Right to Education Act, they told that they do not take the students residing outside 1 km. Thus School Authority turned my son away on the ground that we reside outside 1 km. from school.

We wanted to know the admission beginning and closure details but Akansha refused to disclose and said that they have taken admission of Senior K.G students then we asked the detail list of students admitted with their residence address. My wife wanted in writing the reasons for denial of admission but she was not given then my wife gave a letter in writing stating that we had visited school for admission of our son but they refused to take that too. We lodged a complaint before Commissioner of Municipal on the same day.

On July 19, 2012, I was called by one social worker from Akansha organization who informed me that they have been directed by Administrative Officer (School) to admit my son. On July 20, 2012, I visited the school for admission and met Ms. Chitra, Principal of school. Ms. Chitra asked me to come the next day as there was a shortage of staffs in school and she was finding it difficult in carrying out formalities of filling up the forms. I told her that I have come there on receiving a phone call and can hardly find time out of my busy schedule and insisted for admission filling up form myself in absence of the staffs. This is in sheer violation of Section 8(d) and 9(f) which enshrines the duty of the Appropriate Government and Local Authority respectively to provide infrastructure including school building, teaching staff and learning material. She interrogated me about my son’s previous schooling upon which I replied that he had not attended school previously. She refused to admit him for not having previous schooling background. I wanted to come back on their refusal on which she agreed to give admission and asked me to wait as she had no idea about form fill up and called staffs from head office.

After half an hour, two ladies staffs came from head office who advised me to put my son in senior K.G as he would not be able to cope up with other student having schooling background. I shall again point over here that in refusing my son to admit in Class I, Ms. Chitra violated section 4 of the Act wherein a child above six years of age has not been admitted in any school or though admitted, could not complete his or her elementary education, then, he or she shall be admitted in a class appropriate to his or her age. The proviso to the section says that such child shall have a right to receive special training, in order to be at par with other children. They suggested me that these are in the interest of my son’s career. I did not agree with them and pointed out provision of RTE, Act which ensures special training for child to cope up in case child is admitted to class in appropriate to their age.

When I kept insisting her to take admission with the reference of Administrative Officer’s direction, she replied that AO has nowhere mentioned in letter to give admission and  again advised me to put my son in senior K.G. I did not agree for putting my son in below standard than his agree and came out.

After five minutes Ms. Chitra called me over my phone and told me that she is ready to grant admission without any condition.  She took prescribed admission form of BMC and thereafter she gave me another sheet carrying terms and conditions of Akansha, NGO. The conditions were not acceptable but I had no other option than to sign it. For example: Ms. Chitra told me to give only vegetarian food for lunch in tiffin, because it is the rule of school. I would like to point over here that the provision of mid-day meal in schools is a basic amenity provided by the Government towards ensuring that the children of all strata have the facility of having lunch provided in the school itself. Again emphasis by the school Principal to give only vegetarian food in lunch creates a sense of disparity among the children themselves as they come from all the sections of society. In fact, they should be made aware of the qualities of healthy food habits rather than discriminating them on vegetarian and non-vegetarian grounds.

While talking to the Principal I came to know that the school has tie up with Akansha, NGO under agreement to provide teaching staffs in the school. I asked per municipal rule the qualification of teachers of primary schools. She told me that minimum qualification of teachers is D.Ed. I asked number of teachers and their qualification of those teaching in their school.She informed that there are 20 teachers, out of 20 only 8 teachers have D.Ed or B.Ed qualification. I wanted to know the process of appointment, she told that they are employees of companies like Wipro, Infosys and deputed for two years in school. On asking about training I was told that Akansha provides them 20 days training. The project of deputing the teaching staffs in school are run by Teach India, NGO. Hence, the basic question that arises over here is, though the teachers over here may have worked with reputed organizations such as Infosys and Wipro, but do they have the minimum qualification of a B.Ed or D.ed degree to teach in a school? Teaching children between the age of six to fourteen years does not require experience of an IT Firm rather what is needed is the skill and training to be qualified as a teaching staff.

I asked for drinking water from one of teacher available in office for which they said that they have no water facility in school.   I expressed shock for non availability of water in school. Upon asking how children get water she replied that children are told to bring water bottle and in case they don’t’ bring water, they call parents to ask them arrange for water for their children. They further informed that school staffs take packaged drinking water when required. On asking about complaint in this connection they said that construction work of building is still going on and they are arranging funding for aqua guard. I observed that water connection is available in school but they are not providing water to children as they are waiting for aqua guard. The non-availabilty of safe drinking water facility in a school is in clear violation of The Schedule of the Act wherein the norms and standards for a school are laid down. Item (2)(iv) of the Schedule lays down that all-weather building should consist of safe and adequate drinking water facility to all children. It is to be emphasized over here that section 19 of the Act lays down that where a school fails to fulfill the norms and conditions within a specified period of 3years of its commencement, then the appropriate authority under section 18 of the Act shall withdraw recognition granted to such school.

Here, I would like to bring to your notice that thousands of parents like me are struggling to admit their child in school. Though there is legislation for providing children elementary education in govt. run schools, so that children right can be protected, it has been violated by your school. Akanksha has been in the field of imparting education for a long time and is perceived as one of the committed NGO’s.

But my experience with Akanksha has confirmed that your institution, although constitutionally bound to provide education to all, has failed a large section of the society.

Your schools arbit grounds to admit a child has violated not only the child’s constitutional right, but also defeats the purpose of a NGO.

RTE does not cover 0- 6 years age group. So when a child come to a school to be enrolled for the first time in a school at the age of six, it reflects a lot on his parents social and financial status. it for such a child that RTE comes for rescue and not for the ones who has an access to pre- primay education. Akansha should have been more careful and sensitive towards such kids. A child, who is deprived of this educational rights, should be Akanksha’s priority and not the one’s who have been to some nursery and pre- primary schooling. By asking me if my child has been to any such institutions before securing admission in standard 1st, your organization has violated my sons fundamental right to education. Previous qualification, age and the time when a parent approaches a school for admission is secondary. Every child should be in a school is and must be a priority!

I would like to ask, has Akanksha done anything to find out where are those kids it has denied admissions?

Does Akansksha know, after stripping them off their basic rights, have those kids been admitted to any school?

Unless a NGO works within the realm of the RTE and ensures each and every child is admitted in the school, without any discrimination, their existence can not be justified.

Thanks & Regards,

Shakil Ahmed


Pakistani-American Raps For #Malala Yousafzai #spokenword #poetry #vaw #Taliban

A man holds a candle next a picture of Malala Yousufzai at a school in Lahore. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

A man holds a candle next a picture of Malala Yousufzai at a school in Lahore. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)

By- Suka Kalantari,  at the

The day after 14-year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban for speaking out for women’s education, Zaki Syed, a 24-year-old Pakistani-American rapper from Sacramento, California, started getting a lot of phone calls asking him to write a rap about it.

“I was getting calls from people in Pakistan saying, ‘Hey, you have to do something. You have to write something.’ Even my mom was like, ‘You do a rap for everybody, you should do something for her too.’”

But Syed says he had already began writing a spoken-word poem dedicated to Malala Yousafzai, which he’s now posted on YouTube.

Syed starts the spoken-word poem saying, “All she really wants to do is read. The first verse in the Quran is to read.” He said that an important belief in Islam is to educate ones self.

“Reading and getting an education is an Islamic right,” Syed said. “This was just a way of responding to the Taliban extremists and possibly any future extremists who try to come out and justify what had been done. I wanted to make it very clear that Islam, or God, would not condone what they did. The Quran says that God is telling the prophet to read. It’s like your Muslim duty to go out and be educated and be knowledgeable.”

In both Urdu and English, Syed raps, “You sisters, you mothers, you daughters: the respect of the nation is in your hands.” He explains it’s a very old saying in Pakistan. He sang it in both languages to make sure young women in Pakistan understood the lyrics.

“It says that the nation is in women’s hands. And it’s up to them to lead the way. I was thinking of all Muslims when I wrote this. My attack was towards the Taliban, but also to tell the nation of Pakistan that literacy is something we’re suffering and she was trying to advance it. She is a representation of something that people in Pakistan desperately need, which is education.”

Syed, who is also a sociology student at Sacramento State, produced another rap video last month urging tolerance and understanding of Sikhs in the wake of the Wisconsin shootings. In an interview with The World’s Marco Werman he says he uses rap to break down stereotypes.

“I think that the media has always stereotyped – made a stereotype – that anyone who has a beard, who has a turban, must be a terrorist,” Syed said. “That’s very untrue and, in fact, most Muslims don’t even have turbans.”

Syed has also rapped about Pakistan’s earthquake, the floods in Bangladesh, and the discrimination that sometimes comes with growing up as a Muslim-American after 9-11.

Lyrics to “Malala Yousafzai”

All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed
So when the Taliban, Yeah when the Taliban shot Malala
They shot a part of Pakistan, The Part of Pakistan
That believed in the first verse of the Quran and that is
and that is to read
All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed

Now Swat Valley is a beautiful place
But Swat Valley has turned into a murderous place
Swat Valley is also the same place in which Malala was born in 1998
Who would of thought a gunman would try to decide her fate
But no gunman can decide her fate, only God can
I think God had a plan for her to fight Taliban
Woman’s education was at the top of her goal
So when they banned school
They straight up crushed her soul
So she started to blog and she started to protest, and pretty soon became activists
A symbol for Pakistani people that were starting to feel repressed
Stuck in war between the east and the west
U.S. foreign policy and Taliban causing a mess
So when Malala was shot by an extremist the whole country screamed that shedidn’t deserve this
It sparked of something you wouldn’t believe
People saying the Taliban has hijacked my country
And that it is time for them to leave
Protests in Numerous Pakistani Cities
And I heard 50 Islamic clerics have issued Fatwas condemning the Talibans actions now
Wow like how could a child so young become the voice of inspiration
For everyone, like so many women who go to school and then work at night
Only to come home and prepare meals for their families at night
But one of these women told me she is no longer feeling bad about her life
No she is thinking about Malala’s sacrifice and how she herself is lucky to live in a
place where she can be independent and utilize her education right
An inspiration and Light so I use Malala’s message when I talk to Pakistani Women to Unite
Tum batia, Tum Maaou, Tum baana quam ki izzat aap ki haath main hai
You sisters, you mothers, you daughters the respect of the nation is in your hands
So don’t say we cant only say that we can, to a higher education
To a better Pakistan, my Pakistan, your Pakistan
Mera Pakistan, Tumara Pakistan, Hamara Pakistan
Yee Pyari Zameen aur yee pyara Asman
Broken into little tukra by the U.S. Drone Strikes and Taliban
And somebody better please help the Taliban understand that
The Prophet Muhammad told us that Paradise was at our Mothers feet
And to honor our daughters and to treat them with respect so tell me Tehreeki
Taliban is this how you treat your Muslim Sister with respect, by shooting her in the
head and the neck
What kind of Islam is this, what kind of Islam is this, What kind of Islam is this
Please let me know what your following cause I know its not Islam
How could you hurt a girl for trying to follow the first verse of the Quran
Because all she wanted to do was to read

All she really wants to do is Read
The first verse in the Quran is to Read
Because when you read to the people you go out and Lead
When Malala bleeds the whole country bleeds
Because she represents the seed of what we need
So many mouths and minds to feed
So when the Taliban, Yeah when the Taliban shot Malala
They shot a part of Pakistan, The Part of Pakistan
That believed in the first verse of the Quran and that is
and that is to read
Also if the U.S is get inspired by women rights
And wants to fight the good fight then stop the drop strikes
Because education needs to be at the core of any mission
So stop dropping bombs and start dropping knowledge
You say you are for womens rights then why don’t you build a women’s college
Because Illiteracy and Poverty is disease, and drone strikes are the propaganda
on which the Taliban feeds, people joining them because theyre angry that theyre
families have been wiped out entirely
And revenge could keep us in a mental fortitude of slavery
So I am praying really hard for Malalas recovery
Because she brought the proof to the truth, and the truth to abosolute,
And absolute to the proof, proof to the absolute, and absolute to the truth
That’s what happens when education succeeds
Iqra bismi rabbika, read, read, read


#India-Koodankulam Children Cannot be Treated as Criminals: NCPCR #childrights #justice

Nityanand Jayaraman

17 October, 2012.

CHENNAI — Two children — Rishita, 14, and Postine, 12, — and one adult — Mrs. Malar — from Idinthakarai deposed before the panel of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights at a public hearing held in Theyagaraya Hall, TNagar, Chennai, today. The deponent referred to the report of the Justice Kolse Patil fact finding committee on the police violence following the September 10 peaceful gathering on the Idinthkarai beach. It was pointed out that the Patil report endorsed the claims of local people that:

a) the police had unleashed violence on people, including children
b) at least 4 juveniles had been arrested, of whom at least 3 faced charges of sedition and waging war
c) an atmosphere of fear was prevalent in the area that was preventing children from enjoying a life of normalcy.

The children who deposed articulately in the poetic Tamil of South Tamil Nadu said that they feared for their future, their parent’s safety and were also afraid of stepping out of their homes for fear of police harassment. The children said that they are unable to focus on their studies as they are traumatised by the happenings of September 10 and later, and because they are fearful of police harassment of their friends and family.

The panel was requested to send a team to visit the area and assess the “atmosphere of fear” prevalent in the area, and to see how children have been affected and their rights violated. The panel was also requested to issue directions in the instance of the four children who were arrested, detained in the Palayamkottai Juvenile Home, and charged with heinous crimes including attempted murder, sedition and waging war against the state. It was pointed out that at least one student — Kishen — had missed his examinations for want of sufficient attendance due to the 10 day detention caused by the police. In a written affidavit signed by Kishen, which was handed to the committee, Kishen had stated that the illegal arrest not only lost him valuable time, but it also has prevented him from sitting in his examinations and has resulted in a waste of fees paid for the year.

The panel made the following key observations:

  1.   It was not empowered to make any recommendations on the desirability, or not, of nuclear power.
  2.   It was not averse to the idea of constituting a committee to visit the protest areas and assess the atmosphere of fear and speak to children.
  3.   It was not averse to the proposal of recommending counsellors to advise children traumatised by the ongoing protests.
  4.   It was equivocal in declaring that children in such situations of political conflict cannot be treated as criminals. Referring to the state of children in areas like Orissa, where communities are protesting against steel FDI of Posco, the panel said that children in these areas need to be seen as persons in need of support and counseling, and not as criminals.

One member of the panel proposed that a copy of the Kolse Patil Committee report be forwarded to the Government of Tamil Nadu for their comments.

India-No law to protect child adopted within family


Sravani Sarkar, Hindustan Times
Bhopal, October 02, 2012

Six-year-old Shivani was raped and beaten to death by her paternal uncle and aunt, who were acting as her foster parents, in Indore. The father of the child, resident of a village in Uttar Pradesh, had handed over the child to Rajesh Sengar and Bebi four months ago. The child was physically and  sexually abused  all through her stay with her uncle and aunt and finally succumbed to her injuries.

September 16: A 12-year-old girl complained to her neighbours in Bagh Sewania (Bhopal) that her maternal uncle, with whom she and her three siblings were staying for last several months, tortured them and made them work like servants. Their father is in jail for murdering their mother. The police, Child Line and State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (SCPCR) intervened and finally handed over the three kids to their grandmother and paternal uncle.

August 2012: Neighbours in Koh-e-Fiza (Bhopal) called up Child Line to complain that two girls – aged 11 and 6 – were being regularly abused by their relatives to whom they had been handed over a few months ago. These kids were also treated like servants. The father of the kids had remarried after their mother died. Child Line and district Children’s Welfare Committee (CWC) intervened and handed over the children to their parents, despite lot of resistance from the “adopting” family.

These incidents do not only horrify, but also bring to light a dangerous legal loophole. There is practically no law or regulation that guides intra-family adoption – children who move from their biological parents to foster parents within the same wider family.

While there are strict procedures and rules in place for legal adoption of orphans or abandoned children, there is nothing to stop people from merely handing over their kids to friends or relatives apparently to ensure better care. Recent incidents suggest that these children are more often than not subjected to acute physical, mental and even sexual abuse by their relatives-turned-foster parents.

“There is nothing really in the law to stop people from doing this or to monitor the condition of such kids once they are handed over. The only way is to create massive awareness among people to spot and report any child abuse in their neighbourhood,” said state representative of National Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights (NCPCR) and Bhopal Child Line in-charge Archana Sahay.

She, however, said that in case there is a complaint about children being “informally” handed over, both the families that give away and receive the child could be booked. Sahay adds that a considerable number of cases of abuse by informal adoptive families have been reported in the recent past. “This indicates a very scary trend. People may be looking at adopting children of poor relatives as they find difficult to get full-time servants. And if the child is a girl, then the chances of sexual abuse increases,” she said.

Amita Jain, who heads the Bhopal-based adoption agency Matrichhaya, also expressed concern about such informal adoption process and stressed on the need of alertness on the part of neighbours to detect and report any such cases of abuse.

Even in cases of formal legal adoptions, post-adoption monitoring has been a weak area. This was revealed by Alok Sharma, the deputy director of the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) and in-charge of the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in MP.

Sharma conceded that post-adoption monitoring in case of even legal adoption is a neglected area. “There is of course nothing that we could do about informal adoption within families or friends,” he says. As for monitoring in case of formal adoption, the department is now thinking of involving the district ICPS officers in the process, said Sharma.

Who’s Watching?
The Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) monitors the process with support of the state-level agencies.

Once the legal process is completed and child is given for adoption, the adoptive families are expected to give quarterly reports about progress and well-being of the child to the adoption agencies as well as the court for three years.

The agencies are expected to submit half-yearly reports to CARA or a state agency for two years after adoption.

Adoption agencies have to often pressure adoptive families to give the report. Also in cases where the child goes for adoption out of the city or state, it becomes difficult to monitor, says Amita Jain of Matrichhaya.

The state government is thinking of starting external monitoring through the district ICPS officers.

#Nestle NAN H.A. 1 Gold baby formula ‘making children sick’

HA 1 Gold_00103

Nestle‘s NAN H.A. 1 Gold. Picture: Nestle

Harry Paganin

Robert Paganin fed the new formula to his six-month-old son Harry for four weeks before discovering it was making his son sick. Picture: Supplied

Constant crying, rashes, dark green watery poo, dehydration and vomiting are among the symptoms babies have been experiencing since Nestle’s NAN H.A. 1 Gold switched to a “new improved” recipe.

Sarah Wells from Launceston in Tasmania put her 10-week-old son Oliver on the new formula and said she immediately noticed the bad side effects.

“A week after being on the formula, and the second can, Oliver’s face broke out in nasty eczema,” Ms Wells told

Ms Wells contacted Nestle, and was told by a customer service representative that babies often have reactions when switching to a new formula, then offered a $50 gift voucher.

Robert Paganin from Blackburn North in Victoria fed the new formula to his six-month-old son Harry for four weeks before he discovered it was making his son sick.

“Within 48 hours of changing he was fine, he was drinking the bigger bottle and finishing it, whereas on the other one he was refusing to drink,” Mr Paganin said.

“I am extremely disappointed and disgusted in Nestle playing with our babies’ wellbeing.”

Nestle external relations manager Margaret Stuart said the company ran tests when it switched calcium chloride for potassium chloride in the formula recipe.

“This testing did not show anything that could cause the reactions that parents are describing,” Ms Stuart said.

Ms Stuart said that the company takes concerns from parents very seriously, and in response to comments Nestle is running further testing using an independent laboratory in Australia.

“While we do not yet have final results, preliminary results of the microbiological profile indicate no food safety issue,” she said.

In the past six weeks, more than 100 reviews and comments have been posted by angry parents on consumer website Product Review.

“Old recipe was fantastic, new and improved a total disgrace , after 3-4 feeds of Nan H.A. Gold1 my baby was producing dark green liquid poo, excessive wind and restlessness,” posted Brett4646.

Meanwhile Joy16 posted: “We haven’t had such terrible days and nights like this before. Our twins cried constantly for 6 hours.”

“It is terrible!! It’s even worse when u ring the company and tell them and they still don’t take you seriously! My son smells revolting! He cries non stop!,” posted 4babies.

Related Coverage

Read more:

Too Young to Wed

Stephanie Sinclair, for the Pulitzer Center

Every year, throughout the world, millions of young girls are forced into marriage. Child marriage is outlawed in many countries and international agreements forbid the practice yet this tradition still spans continents, language, religion and caste.

Over an eight-year period, photographer Stephanie Sinclair has investigated the phenomenon of child marriage in India, Yemen, Afghanistan, Nepal and Ethiopia. Her multimedia presentation, produced in association with National Geographic, synthesizes this body of work into a call to action.

In a related post Stephanie Sinclair shares the difficult experiences child brides face. She discusses the need for their voices to be heard and the challenges she faced as a journalist who witnessed their struggles and abuse.

Stephanie Sinclair’s images are featured in a story on child marriage in the June 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine.

How to help: National Geographic has compiled a list of organizations that encourage families to delay marriage and give girls an opportunity to reach their full potential.

In Kolkata, nine-year-old girl spends 9 hours in police lockup

KOLKATA, TNN , April 9 : After more promises of rehabilitation, the administration again cracked down on Nonadanga settlers protesting against their eviction. Police rounded up 69 agitators, including a nine-year-old girl, and locked them up at Lalbazar for nine hours on Sunday.

At night, 62 of them were released, while seven leaders of the anti-eviction movement were booked on non-bailable charges. Three days ago, urban development minister Firhad Hakim had promised to review the rehabilitation scope for Nonadanga evictees.

The seven leaders include Debolina Chakraborty, Sidhartha Gupta, Debjani Ghosh, Abhigyan Sarkar, Partha Sarathi Roy, Shamik Chakraborty and Amal Chatterjee. While Shamik and Amal are activists of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, the others belong to different mass organizations.

On Sunday morning, shanty dwellers of Nonadanga assembled near Ruby crossing off EM Bypass to demand rehabilitation of the evicted squatters. “It was a scheduled programme and we had informed Kolkata Police well in advance,” said Shamik Chakraborty, one of the leaders of Nonadanga Uchhed Birodhi Committee – the anti-eviction forum fighting for rehabilitation of the squatters.

The demonstration began around 10am. It was being held away from the main thoroughfare, so there was no chance of traffic disruption, claimed the organizers.

Shortly before noon, a large police force, led by deputy commissioner Basab Dasgupta, visited the spot and reportedly asked the agitators to leave at once.

“We refused to give in. But they forced us to stop. They pushed us into the prison van and dispersed the gathering by chasing the protesters,” said Abhay, another leader of the forum.

Debolina Chakraborty, one of the organizers, said that initially they were taken to Tiljala police station and then to the central lockup at the Lalbazar police headquarters.

“Police arrested 69 of us including 39 women and a child of nine years,” said Parag Banerjee, one of the agitators. Police denied detaining the child and said 61 people had been held.

Confusion has taken place over the number of the arrest as DC SSD Sujay Chanda said, “We have arrested 61 persons under 151 IPC (considered as preventive arrest) and the case was registered at Kasba police station.” He denied that nine-year-old Monika Kumari Shaw was arrested. TOI, however, confirmed that the child was in the lockup with her mother till 9pm with all other arrested agitators.

At night, police released 62 of the detainees on personal release bond, but they booked seven leaders in connection with a case registered at Tiljala police station on Wednesday.

On that afternoon, six persons – including an 18-month-old infant – were injured in a lathicharge on a rally of the evictees. “These seven persons have been arrested under Sections 143,149,332,341,342 353 of IPC which suggests that they had provoked people in wrongful activity, assembled illegally, and wrongfully restrained and resisted policemen,” said a senior officer. The forum however claimed that Sarkar, Debjani and Partha Sarathi Roy were not present in Wednesday’s rally.

Amitava Bhattacharya, secretary of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad, condemned the arrest. “It was a peaceful assembly and it was an announced programme. It’s a fascist step taken by the government to gag the voice of democratic protest,” said Bhattacharya.

The forum has decided to march from College Square to Writers’ Buildings on Monday. Rights organizations like APDR and Bandi Mukti Committee and USDF have said they will join the rally. “We strongly condemn the arrest,” said Choton Das, secretary Bandi Mukti Committee.

State government perhaps in a bid to take strong arm policy against the Nonadanga anti-eviction movement. Despite an assurance from state urban development minister Firhad Hakim on Thursday to review the rehabilitation scope of the evictees, on Sunday once again police operation was conducted against the agitating evictees. Cops rounded up 69 agitators including a nine-year-old girl and put them in Lalbazar Central lock up till late evening since noon.

Later at night cops released 62 among them but rounded up seven leaders of the movement in stringent non-bailable charges.latter two are known activists of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad then previous five are from different mass organizations.

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December 2022
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