Expressing deep concern at exploitation of children, civil society organisations have come together and launched India Child Protection Forum (ICPF) – a national alliance aimed at strengthening child protection mechanisms and enforcement of child rights in the country.
The ICPF was launched by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi in New Delhi. Noted social activist and former IPS officer Amod Kanth, who founded Prayas, was made national convener of the ICPF.
To deliberate on different aspects of child trafficking and sexual abuse, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation organised a four-day National Symposium on Prevention of Child Trafficking and Child Sexual Abuse at the Constitution Club.
The consultation saw participation of more than 70 civil society organisations from across the country, such as Prayas, Shakti Vahini, Bachpan Bachao Andolan and Prajwala.
Civil society members pledged to keep individual differences aside and unitedly work together with a joint strategy to ensure rights and wellbeing of children. This led to the formation of ICPF.
Welcoming the formation of ICPF, Satyarthi said: “India Child Protection Forum is the beginning of a bigger resolution, a bigger pledge. The Forum has been formed with the objective of fulfilling shared determination, dreams and ideas. It is a coalition of various civil society organisations that will work to end child abuse and child slavery. The Forum will change the social thinking and policies towards the children and will spread the social consciousness. Through the Forum, we will try to build an India where no child will be exploited in any way.”
He also emphasised on the need of expanding compassion towards children.
“All the histories that have been created in the world, all the pages of change that have been written, have been written by ordinary people. It is only deep compassion towards children that will bring the excellence that we are all striving for,” he said.
The pandemic has disrupted the access to healthcare, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, social and child protection for a large section of our population. This in turn has rendered children more vulnerable to deprivation, abuse and exploitation. Working together under the banner of ICPF, civil society organisations will be able to address the emerging concerns.
Highlighting ICPF’s objectives, Kanth said: “The Forum will work towards providing social protection to children who are deprived of basic facilities in our country. The number of such children in the country is more than three crore. We will try to get those children who are unable to go to school due to social, economic disparities, admitted to schools. We will ensure that children are free from any kind abuse and exploitation. The Forum is the beginning of a larger action plan to give a strong protective cover to the children. Its impact will be far-reaching. With the efforts of civil society organisations towards government schemes, policies, laws, we will try to reach the most marginalised children.”
Other civil society organisations, who are now a part of ICPF, had independent deliberation on ways to prevent child trafficking and sexual abuse at the grassroots level, discussed challenges posed by new emerging forms of trafficking including use of online medium and the role of civil society organisations. Law makers, civil society organisations, heads of agencies and child rights experts also participated in the consultation.
The speakers made multiple important suggestions and pressed for immediate passage of the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2021.