GUWAHATI, Sept 10 - The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) has expressed grave concern over the violation of child rights in different educational institutions of Dhubri and South Salmara districts.
Observing the condition of private madrassas for girls in the districts, the commission has urged the State government to intervene into the matter to ensure basic child rights for the minor girls studying in madrassas and staying in their boarding facilities.
A team of the commission that visited Dhubri from September 4 to September 7, found blatant violation of child rights in general with a significant number of children engaged as child labourers in both the districts.
The monitoring team led by ACSPCR chairperson Dr Sunita Changkakati and members Dr Pilu Hazarika and Rupa Hazarika visited both the districts to review the implementation of child protection laws, schemes and policies in the districts.
The report prepared by the Commission over the condition of child rights has specially noted the mushrooming of private madrassas for girls that hardly give emphasis on the rights of children.
�The team of ASCPCR during the visit to madrassas observed that although there is a number of madrassas for boys and girls, a majority of them are functioning with multiple violations of child rights. Several cases of corporal punishment and violations of the RTE Act, 2009 were observed in the private madrassas. It was also observed in the madrassas for girls that the girls were not allowed to interact with the outside world, keeping them confined inside the premises only. Even in madrassas for boys, some of them were found to be only providing religious education to the children, depriving them from the State education curriculum,� the team reported.
It was further recommended that madrassas, which have children in need of care and protection like homeless or orphans, should be registered under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015.
The Commission has also asked the district administration to monitor the situation closely for protecting the rights of the children. The team recommended that other than religious education, all the children must be provided compulsory and free formal education.
�The girls should be provided all the basic amenities and children must get clean and hygienic rooms with proper beddings, nutritious food, recreational facilities etc. Those institutions which cannot provide these facilities should be closed down by the district administration.
Apart from madrassas, the Commission visited child care institutions, residential schools like Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, hospitals and other institutions, which provide services to children.
A majority of children the team members met were found to be engaged as child labourers in factories ranging from brick kilns to cashew processing plants. During hospital visits also, the team observed that many babies were malnourished at birth. After closely examining the case and consulting with the doctors, most of such cases were found to be the result of early pregnancy and the prevalence of child marriage in both the districts.
It needs mention here that before South Salmara became a new district, Dhubri district recorded a 31 per cent prevalence of child marriage, making it among the top 100 districts in the country with highest prevalence of child marriage.