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Fervent appeal to secure rights of the child

By Kabita Duarah

GUWAHATI, Nov 11 � Despite all the legal provisions and the hue and cry raised by local non-government organizations and international agencies about securing the rights of the child, this incident reflects the real picture of the status of an underprivileged child in Assam and also lack of awareness of the society at large.

It was the afternoon of November 9. The Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) was teeming with people and a large crowd had gathered outside the OPD. What was the show all about?

A colour worn cloth was spread on the dusty ground. A two year old child who was physically challenged was placed on the cloth and this child without proper hands and feet was made to perform various antics right to picking up the coins thrown by the bystanders with his mouth.

The picture was terrible � a disabled child wallowing in dust not to gather the childhood pleasures but to earn money for the elders in his family.

His mother Nazma was right next to him. He has two elder siblings and hails from Chaygaon. Nazma said that the child was physically challenged right from birth and that people gave money to the child out of sympathy.

The collection was big. Nazma disappeared after an hour from GMCH with her child. The bystanders dispersed satisfied that they had done a virtuous deed by throwing coins towards the child.

This is not a lone incident. Very often, such sights are witnessed across the capital city. Children with disability or injury (inflicted deliberately) are forced to beg. This becomes nothing short of an exhibition for the people waiting for a diversion.

Exploitation of children is a common feature in the society and the gap between the policies of government and its actual implementation has come to the advantage of those involved in exploitation of children.

�Very often poverty and hunger compels the parents to display the disability of their children for earning money,� said Gamliel Sherio, Guwahati Street Children Project, World Vision, India. He added that society is yet to wake up to the bane of child begging even though the citizens every day encounter an extended palm of a child in tattered clothes begging for alms.

�The Acts, policies and privileges for such children and families do little to support them. Such suffering children are seen in our own city and needs urgent interventions and protection,� he said. On the other hand, executive director of Shishu Sarothi, Arman Ali said that it was a pity parents were involving their child in begging and called for implementation of the laws, including the Juvenile Justice Act to secure the rights of the child.

�The awareness level about the rights of the child is very low in our society. If we really want to give the children a future, the State and the society must come forward to address the problems faced by the children,� said Ali.

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