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Media Orientation on child protection held at Guwahati Press Club

English NewsMedia Orientation on child protection held at Guwahati Press Club

Guwahati, Feb 24: The Gauhati Press Club on Friday organized a media orientation on child protection issues in Assam at the press club as part of its Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Noted author and journalist Sanjay Hazarika while taking part as one of the speakers of the orientation programme stressed on the need for behavioural change for checking social problems like child marriage and urged the journalists in Assam to go to the field to bring out the issues that lead to problems like child marriages.

Hazarika said that the status of women in Assam has to be considered while trying to address the issues like child marriages. The school dropout rate in Assam is very high in the country. Stressing that education could be an answer to social problems like child marriages, Hazarika said that government intervention in the forms of scholarship to children in remote areas to bridge the gap in education could help tackle the issue of child marriages. “The government could think of scholarships to children in remote areas to stop school dropouts and this can help particularly the empowerment of girls in remote areas,” he said.

According to the latest Unified District Information System for Education (UDISE) data in Assam, the dropout rates in Assam’s primary schools have almost doubled in 2021-22. The dropout rate in lower primary schools is 6.02 in 2021-22, up from 3.3 percent in the previous year.

General Secretary of the Gauhati Press Club Sanjay Ray set the context of the orientation programme while Pallabi Bora, Cultural Secretary of the Gauhati Press Club felicitated the Speakers and moderated  the programme.

Eminent personalities like Dr. Bandana Bhuyan, former regional Director National Institute for Peoples’ Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD), Advocate of the Gauhati High court Bijan Mahajan, Senior Advocate of Gauhati High Court, Angshuman Bora, Child rights activist Miguel Das Queah, Journalist Sushanta Talukdar and rights activist Rafiquel Islam deliberated on the issue of protection of children’s rights during the programe.

Dr. Bandana  Bhuyan while speaking on social and gender aspects of child marriages, highlighted that there are social issues and cultural practices in our society that leads to problems like child marriages and stressed that the problem could be solved only through empowerment of women and making quality education accessible to the girls.

Among other causes of child marriages, Dr. Bhuyan highlighted that increasing crime against women is also a reason behind the child marriages as poor parents wants to ensure security for their daughters.

It may be mentioned here that NFHS 5 data indicates that more than 30 percent of women in Assam are victims of domestic violence, which was 24.5 percent in NFHS 4.

Highlighting Legal provisions to child marriages, Senior Advocate of Gauhati High Court Angshuman Bora said that sensitization and not penal actions will help stop the social problem like child marriages. “Socio economic sensitization is the need of the hour to stop the problem. Actions like arrest leads to social stigma and hence may not be the correct approach to address the issue of child marriages,” said Bora while adding that there are also some lacunas in the existing legal framework which sometimes leads to child marriages.

Speaking on the rehabilitation of the victims of child marriages, Advocate Bijan Mahajan said that child marriage is a social problem and so social approaches are needed to stop the problem. Delving on the legal aspect, Mahajan said that Prohibition of Child marriages Act (PCMA) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) can go hand in hand in dealing with the issue of child marriages.

Child rights activist Miguel Das Queah while focusing on the Systems approach to prohibit child marriages said that there are legal framework to prohibit child marriages but due to lack of awareness among people the social problem is thriving.

Queah said that although there childline services and women helpline services the is not much awareness among the people. The rate of school dropouts have been increasing and education department needs to bridge the gap in education to stop the problems like child marriages.

Rights activist, Rafiquel Islam, who had diverse experience of fighting social problems like child marriages, shared his experiences and said that although state intervention is needed to stop child marriages, the intervention should be at the best interest of the children.

Journalist Sushanta Talukdar while highlighting the Trends of Media Reporting on Child marriages in Assam , said that the media reporting at present is basically highlighting the incidents of child marriages and rued that the narrative of the child bride, who is a victim in this case, is however missing in the whole discourse. Talukdar highlighted the need for more objective field reporting on the issue. Talukdar also said that the hole issue has much to do with the universalization of education and empowerment of women.


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