GUWAHATI, Nov 8 - A two-day media consultation was organised recently by the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) in partnership with UNICEF, Assam in Kaziranga campus. The consultation focused on sensitising journalists on the constitutional and legal provisions for children and adolescents and developing a shared understanding on the role of the media in addressing violations of rights of adolescents.
Runumi Gogoi, Chairperson ASCPCR, welcoming delegates to the consultation, stressed on the need for developing a sense of responsibility among the media personnel to deal with issues relating to child rights and protection adequately and sensitively.
�With 60 million girls globally still being married under the age of 18, she stressed on the need for a strong judiciary and an effective mechanism to curb issues related to adolescents and juveniles,� she stated.
The media, she said, can be an important ally in reaching positive results. She also stressed on the need for Special Courts of Trial for cases under the POCSO Act.
The discussions focused on the need for more nuanced media coverage for children and adolescents.
Stuti Kacker, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), echoing the sentiments expressed by the other panellists, stressed that in this age of online information, media still has a powerful role in moulding opinions and requested journalists to create spaces for adolescents to highlight their issues and concerns.
Dr Tushar Rane, Chief, UNICEF Assam, in his speech, highlighted the critical role of media in promoting the voices of children. He strongly advocated that �the best interest of the child� should be the guiding principle for media to promote the cause and issues of children in society. Media needs to consider children as right holders so as to safeguard their rights.
The session also deliberated on the significance of adolescents (10-19 years of age) as they constitute nearly 22 per cent of the population and yet are largely invisible in the media and have limited opportunities for representation. Often they are portrayed without sufficient attention paid to issues of confidentiality, and without providing opportunities for meaningful participation or representation. The manner in which such issues are covered and the manner in which adolescents and children are represented can have an impact on the way society views them and even graver consequences for the adolescent�s sense of self.
The discussions highlighted that a significant number of concerns around the representation (or lack of) children and adolescent issues in the media stems largely from a lack of understanding on �children as rights-holders� and not merely beneficiaries.
The consultation also saw the release of two important publications, namely, the Child Protection Day Report and the Status of Women and Children in Assam.