New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) More than 100 street and working children Wednesday talked about their issues with representatives of the juvenile justice system, police and child welfare groups at an event to mark the second International Street Children Day.
Speaking on the occasion, Vinod Kumar Tikoo of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) said NCPCR was committed to protect the rights of children.
The children, associated with around 15 NGOs, pulled no punches, talking about a range of issues, from non-payment of wages to rape and molestation.
When Tikoo said that education was the birthright of all children and suggested that children should refuse to work, a girl from Shakurpur basti asked how the orphaned children could claim their right.
"How will orphaned children continue their education in the absence of parents providing financial support," she said.
Another girl talked about sexual abuse and molestation.
"Recently, a five-year-old girl was raped in our area. The police arrested the culprit and released him after a few days. Why?"
A 16-year-old boy who works in a butcher's shop revealed the issue of substance abuse.
"Leave other things aside, they should close down the fluid (whitener) making companies. I earn Rs.12,000 a month and all of it goes away buying bottles of fluid," he told IANS.
Whitener, or fluid as it is called among street children, is the most commonly abused substance by kids.
Another girl spoke about child mariages still prevalent in the marginal sections of the society.
Officers from the Special Juvenile Police Units (SJPU) of Delhi Police and Child Welfare Committee members Charu Makkad and Sudarshana Chakraborti also attended the event.
April 12 is the International Street Children Day.
Wednesday's event was organised by child welfare organisation Childhood Enhancement Through Training and Action (CHETNA) along with Plan India and Hope for Children.
Sanjay Gupta, executive director with CHETNA, said the issues raised by the children affected all street dwelling children.
"The problems are (not) recent. They were always there," he claimed.
"If we can ensure child welfare committees and childcare homes in all districts, the issue could be addressed more effectively," Gupta added.
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