INDIA: Child Rights Panel To Hold Public Hearing In Tamil Nadu

[22 January 2008] - India's National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) will hold a public hearing 23 January on allegations of child abuse by Tamil Nadu schools and hostels. The hearing is in response to an appeal made by a coalition of 22 NGOs.

The commission team will hear 40 complaints from children and parents as well as NGOs on corporal punishment, sexual abuse and neglect of children in as many as 33 schools and seven hostels of the state.

'Protecting child rights is crucial for advancement of human rights. Children face different forms of abuse, discrimination in schools and hostels leading to trauma, suicides, dropout and other adverse impact on their health and well being of their families,' V. Vasanthi Devi, former chairperson of Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women, said on Monday.

Activists say child abuse of various kinds, including corporal punishment, is continuing in Tamil Nadu despite the DMK government issuing an order in January 2007 abolishing corporal punishment.

The commission has issued summons - under its power as a civil court - to the district education officers to appear before the jury with necessary records. The officials of those districts where the alleged abuses took place have been summoned.

In case of complaints against hostels, the director of school education, joint director of higher secondary education, secretary social welfare and director of the Adi Dravidar welfare and tribal welfare departments have been served summons.

Trust breached

Member of the jury for the public hearing S.S. Rajagopalan said the 'schools and hostels are intended to provide a safe place for children to learn. But it is regrettable that the trust placed by the parents in them is belied and cases of torture and sexual harassment are often reported.'

'No proper mechanism is in vogue to prevent such excesses on children,' he pointed out.

'There seems to be no regulations with regard to recognition and supervision of student hostels. Even hostels attached to a school are not inspected by educational authorities,' Rajagopalan said.

'Adi Dravidar hostels (hostels for the Dalit students) are in a despicable condition. The authorities consider them as one of charity, and not as a right given to the children,' he added.

The cases to be heard include complaints of corporal punishment, physical and mental torture, harassment and sexual abuse.

Cases of discrimination and violence against Dalit students in schools and hostels and grievous injuries and death caused to students by negligence of school authorities will also be heard.

Further information

pdf: http://newspostindia.com/report-32513

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