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June 23, 2011
 
Child Labour, Abuse Prevalent In State: CRG


http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-06-23/goa/29694078_1_child-labour-crg-abuse

23 June 2011

PANAJI:
There is prevalence of child labour and child abuse in Goa and also a serious lacuna in addressing both problems.

This was stated by Nishta Desai of Children's Rights in Goa (CRG) at a workshop recently. Desai said there are no statistics but CRG has encountered such problems in their work with children in Goa.

Desai said Goa has a plethora of laws including the Goa Children's Act for the protection of children. But as required, there are only a few village child committees in the state. According to her, there are an estimated 1,000 child labourers in Goa, a prevalance of tourism-related child sexual abuse and trafficking of children.

While the earlier denial has now changed to acknowledgement of the above problems, we need to move towards action in combating the problems, Desai said.

There are serious lacuna in addressing these problems. For example, under the Goa Children's Act, 2003, universal elementary education to children was to be mandatory within 7 years. The deadline has expired but the aim has not been achieved. Also, a plan of action was supposed to be drawn up to eradicate child labour in Goa. But no survey has been conducted to identify these child labourers, Desai said.

A plan of action was supposed to be published in the official gazette every year. The plan of action was to be formulated to prevent trafficking. Steering committees were also to be constituted by incorporating experts and best practices were to be adopted from other states. While none of this has happened, implementing the ideas would ameliorate the problems of children in Goa to a large extent, Desai said.

In a touching anecdote, Desai also related the case of a young child who sold plastic bags in the Mapusa fish market. Contrary to popular belief that only migrant children sell plastic bags, the child was the son of Goan parents. Other children in the market abused him calling him "chor" (thief). After CRG intervened and spoke to him, it was found that he was single-handedly supporting his sick mother, his alcoholic father and a young sibling. CRG is working to rehabilitate the boy and his family, Desai said.