How Childline works tirelessly for child-friendly cities
Across November, YUVA is placing the spotlight on child rights, especially focusing on child protection and demands for functional Child Protection Committees (CPCs) to be set up.
This #InternationalChildRightsMonth, through our campaign 'My Ward, My CPC', YUVA is pushing for setting up of Child Protection Committees in the city to further #childprotection. With events and interactions with various stakeholders, we aim to make cities safer for children. pic.twitter.com/xoV1H2WNpQ
— YUVA (@OfficialYUVA) November 11, 2020
Six years since the Maharashtra Government Resolution of 2014 mandated the setup of CPCs at the ward level to protect children from exploitation and abuse, there are hardly any CPCs across Mumbai, or they exist only on paper. Our ongoing ‘My Ward, My CPC’ campaign calls on the people to demand for this, as it is a vital measure to protect children in communities.
Child leader Shimon Patole made a fervent appeal for CPCs on Children’s Day. Watch his video message here. Members of the children’s collective Bal Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan, also voiced their needs and concerns. Pravin from Ambujwadi shared experiences of presenting a Children’s Charter of Demands to authorities, and Shimon from Lallubhai Compound amplified the demand for Child Protection Committees.
Today we are also launching a Twitter Campaign from 2–3 pm to demand for better child protection measures across cities, especially the formation of Child Protection Committees across Mumbai Suburban. Join us!
Our commitment to child rights and protection is also upheld through our work as an implementation partner of Childline 1098, a 24X7 free helpline for children in distress, supported by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.
The YUVA Urban Initiatives (YUI) work on Childline proceeds via three contact centres — Mumbai City Childline, Dadar Railway Childline and the Navi Mumbai City Childline. Through these centres, the team attends to multiple calls relating to children needing medical and emotional support, seeking shelter or protection from abuse, and so on.
Every case requires work with multiple stakeholders and constant followups, to ensure that children’s rights are upheld and they can be suitably rehabilitated. This blog highlights some case studies to showcase the diverse roles and support activities of Childline team members to uphold the health, safety and protection of children.
Faciliating a shelter home for a young girl
Rajni (name changed), used to live with her parents on the footpath next to Sion Hospital in Mumbai. However, her parents passed away when she was 16 years of age, leaving her all alone to fend for herself. She married a 25-year-old boy and eventually became pregnant. Her husband refused to take care of the child. They started quarreling regularly and Rajni finally aborted the child, but her husband’s manipulative and abusive behaviour did not change. Finally Rajni left him and moved in with her brother.
Unfortunately, her brother and his wife did not approve of her staying with them for long and they tortured her mentally. Rajni confided in a woman she met at the local beauty parlour, and got to know about Childline 1098. In April 2019, Rajni approached the Childline and the team began investigating her case immediately.
Rajni clearly stated that the only thing she required was a roof over her head. She did not wish to file a complaint against anyone. Complying with her needs, the team shared her case with the Child Welfare Committee who helped arrange for her stay at a shelter home. Rajni shifted to the shelter home soon after, and has been feeling at ease since then.
Extending medical support to a child in need
The Childline team heard about a case where a 28-year-old mother was unable to take care of her child, Sonali (name changed).
Sonali’s father, who was about 53 years old, was in jail convicted in a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act case, after he had sexually abused Sonali three years ago. Sonali’s health had not been the same since she had been abused, and her mother was not able to afford the costs of her treatments.
The Childline team was thinking of presenting Sonali before the Child Welfare Committee to request a safe shelter for her. Before this could happen, one night the team received a call from Sion Hospital, about Sonali being admitted there due to a breathing problem and kidney infection.
The team met Sonali and the doctor-in-charge to learn about the proposed treatment, procedure and arrangements that needed to be done. They managed to get a caretaker and also got her the medicines and other injections for her treatment. Rigorous follow ups were conducted and regular discussion took place with the caretaker and the doctor.
After getting discharged from the hospital, Sonali remained in the custody of her mother temporarily. However, Sonali still needed constant medical care, nutrition and proper shelter but due to the pandemic, the shelter homes were not willing to admit any children. The team continues to follow-up and check in with the mother from time to time.
Reuniting children with their parents
Sita (name changed), a-15-year old girl and Meeta (name changed) a 17-year old girl were walking around Dadar Railway Station on platform no. 4 at 8.55 pm on 6 December 2019. They looked scared and in search of help. The Childline team member approached them and in the initial interaction, both children shared that they had run away from their home. When the team member explained about Childline and how it supports missing children and helps them reunite with their parents, both children decided to go to the Childline Helpdesk.
At the helpdesk, both the children were provided with food and water as they had not eaten anything since they had left home. During the counselling session, they shared that they had left home on 5 December 2019 and boarded a train to Mumbai out of curiosity, to explore city life. When they reached Mumbai, they realised that they were lost and didn’t know their way back home so the duo boarded a local train and arrived at Dadar station.
They shared that their father runs a general store in their village and their mother is a housewife. The duo also has a younger brother. Both the sisters also shared the contact number of their parents and expressed their desire to immediately go home. When their parents were contacted, they mentioned that they had registered a missing complaint at their local police station and were constantly looking for their children. The parents made arrangements to reach Mumbai on 9 December 2019 to take their children back home.
The Childline team member explained the facilities available at the girls’ shelter home and the children agreed to stay there till their parents arrived in the city. After completing the necessary formalities, both the children were presented before the Child Welfare Committee on 6 December 2019 and were provided a short stay facility at the shelter home till 9 December 2019.
When their parents arrived, proper verification of documents were done and the children were reunited with their parents. On 20 December 2019, a telephonic follow up was done and the team spoke to the family and was happy to hear that the children were happy and were continuing their education.
Our work reinforces our commitment towards the vision of safe and violence-free cities for children. Join us across November, to campaign for their rights.
Team YUVA and Nupur Solanki, intern, YUVA