Children tortured in observation homes

Some children in need of care and protection who have been put in observation homes in Delhi, among other places, have been found to be “tortured”, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has said.

In a reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha Thursday, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said: “A few cases of torture have been reported by the children to the NCPCR teams during their visit in 2010 and 2011 to the observation homes in Delhi, Chennai, Mathura, Agra, Hoshiyarpur, Faridkot and Ludhiana.”

“Pursuant to the visits of the NCPCR teams, the gaps in the functioning of such homes, including complaints of torture of children, have been reported to the state governments concerned for remedial action,” she added.

The children, the minister further said, were not treated in the manner that they should as per the childcare standards stipulated under the Juvenile Justice Act.

1.33 lakh Anganwadi centres not functional: Tirath

More than one lakh Anganwadis, government-run child care centres that are an important tool in implementation of the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), are not functional.

This was revealed here Saturday by Woman and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath.In a statement Saturday, on the conclusion of a conference to review the ICDS programme, Tirath said: “The priority area is to ensure operationalisation of all the 13.67 lakh sanctioned Anganwadi Centres (AWCs) as there is still a backlog of around 1.02 to 1.33 lakh AWCs.”

She said the government shared the ministry’s perspective to strengthen and restructure the ICDS scheme through a set of comprehensive, management and institutional reforms.

“During discussions there was a consensus and demand for setting ICDS in a mission mode,” the minister said.On the issue of malnutrition, Tirath said the high level of malnutrition in the country was a matter of “serious concern”.

“Early detection and prevention (of malnutrition) is critical. The states were asked to take specific steps for conducting independent surveys to detect levels of malnutrition and devise nutrition guidelines at community level for treatment of severely malnourished children,” she said.”The states have been advised to set up nutrition councils immediately and to take further steps for a concerted action to address the challenge of malnutrition,” she added.

Scheme to compensate rape victims from Aug 1

The central government will launch a scheme to compensate rape victims from August 1, an official statement said on Tuesday. “The scheme has been approved and the budget has been provided. Now it has been decided to launch the scheme (for rape victims) on Aug 1,” women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said.

The scheme will aim to provide restorative justice to rape victims through financial assistance as well as support services.

“While no amount of financial assistance can adequately compensate for the injury, both physical and emotional, faced by the rape victim, this scheme is an attempt to enable her to cope with the trauma and tide over her long-term needs,” a ministry official said.

The scheme provides an amount of Rs 200,000 for the victim which may be increased to Rs 300,000 in certain cases, like the rape of a minor or of a mentally or physically challenged woman.



Bill against honour killing likely in monsoon session: Girija Vyas

The bill against honour killing is likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of parliament in July, outgoing chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Girija Vyas said Wednesday.

‘I believe the bill will be introduced in the monsoon session. With the GoM (group of ministers) approving it, there is no hitch now,’ Vyas told here.

The bill, titled ‘Prevention of crimes in the name of honour and tradition’, proposes severe punishment at par with murder, to members of ‘khap’ (caste) panchayats, which order or provoke honour killings – murder of men and women by their own kin for either marrying within a ‘gotra’ (social grouping) or outside a caste.

The bill also proposes changes in the Indian Penal Code, the Indian Evidence Act and Special Marriages Act to initiate penal action against ‘khap’ panchayat members.

The GoM, headed by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, included Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath and Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

‘It will be a big deterrent to the heinous crimes committed by one’s own family and community members in the name of ‘izzat’ (pride) of the family and clan,’ Vyas said.

Asked about reservations expressed by some parliament members and Congress leaders about the action against ‘khaps’, Vyas said: ‘I believe the GoM deliberated on all sides of the issue. The main issue was the security and freedom of women and men to decide on their marriages.’

‘Violence and brutality are no way to safeguard the prestige and pride of any caste or clan,’ she added.

Nearly 1,000 cases of honour killings occur each year, according to NGOs and social activists. Though most incidents take place in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, there have been incidents in other states as well, including Delhi.

In a landmark judgment, a district court in Karnal had sentenced five people to death in March 2010 for killing a couple – Babli and Manoj – in Karora village in Kaithal district in Haryana in 2007.

However, the Punjab and Haryana high court last month commuted the death sentence to 20 years of jail.

Vyas told  that the NCW had been conducting social awareness programmes against honour killing along with pressing for a new bill.

‘It should be a two-step strategy. Through the new bill, we want to deter the ‘khaps’ and family members from killing couples. Through awareness programmes, we want to convince the community leaders that murder is no way to protect their pride and tradition,’ she said.

Vyas, who is also a Lok Sabha member, demits the post of NCW chairperson Friday after completing two terms in office – totalling a tenure of six years.

Declining child sex ratio matter of concern: Tirath

Concerned at India’s child sex ratio declining to 914 females per 1,000 males, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath Thursday said she would take up the matter with ‘problem states’.

According to Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner C. Chandramouli, who released the provisional data for Census 2011, the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has declined from 927 females per 1,000 males born in 2001 to 914 females per 1,000 males.

‘It is good to note that the overall sex ratio in the country has increased by seven points over 2001 and that the literacy rate has gone up to 74.04 percent from 64.83 percent. Percentage growth in literacy during 2001-2011 for females is 49.10 percent, which is a good sign,’ Tirath said during an interaction with the media.

‘However, it is a matter of concern that the child sex ratio has declined. I will take up the issue with the problem states and stress for proper implementation of women and child development schemes,’ she added.

There has been an increasing trend in the child sex ratio in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. However, in the remaining 27 states and union territories, the child sex ratio has shown a decline over census 2001.

Mizoram has the highest child sex ratio of 971 followed by Meghalaya with 970. Haryana is at the bottom with the ratio of 830 followed by Punjab with 846.

Girl child campaigners say the imbalance is there because parents continue to view daughters as financial liabilities and male children as wage earners.

‘It (the census figures) was expected but it is a warning signal for the nation to wake up,’ equality campaigner Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, told.

These are, however, only preliminary figures and the final population count will be released only next year.

Consensual sex below age 16 is an offence: Tirath

A draft bill, which will soon be introduced in the cabinet, says consensual sex between children aged 16 to 18 is not a criminal offence, Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath said Tuesday.Tirath refuted a media report which stated that the draft Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2010, sought to bring down to 12 the age of consensual, non-penetrative sex.

“I want to make it clear that the women and child development ministry’s draft bill says that if there is consensual sex between children of age 16-18, it’s not an offence. Below the age of 16 is an offence,” Tirath told reporters here.

“And if the act is non-consensual, then it’s rape. There is no plan of bringing down the age bracket to 12,” she added.

In a clarification statement with regard to the media report, the minister said the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had recommended that the age of consensual sex be brought down to 12, but this was not included in the draft bill of the ministry.

Tirath said while the bill is ready and will “hopefully” be introduced in the cabinet soon, she has also asked the states for their opinion on the same.

“The ministry had asked for the views of state governments on the draft bill in December 2010. I had a conference with the state ministers Jan 28 where this was discussed and their views are taken into consideration,” she said