Context & Legal Basis
The popular saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” and it is this community that can be crucial in a child’s protection and development. The UNCRC and the Juvenile Justice (care & protection of children) Act, 2015 (JJ Act) recognises this.
The concept of Child Protection Committees at the village and ward level (lowest unit of governance in our system) was conceived to extend and formalise this idea of building safe environments for children. It draws its legal basis from mainly three sources:
- In 2009, the Department of Women & Child Development adopted the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) nation wide with the aim of active implementation of preventive measures at the community level
- On 10 June 2014, the Maharashtra Government passed a GR (Govt. Resolution) mandating the formation of Child Protection Committees at every village and ward level. This GR lays out very clearly the formation process, the committee’s role and functions in child protection. In a first, there is also the inclusion of 2 child members (between the age of 12-18 years) among the 11 members committee that is to be formed.
- Section 106 of the JJ Act, 2015 reads – Every State Government shall constitute a Child Protection Society for the State and Child Protection Unit for every District, consisting of such officers and other employees as may be appointed by that Government, to take up matters relating to children with a view to ensure the implementation of this Act, including the establishment and maintenance of institutions under this Act, notification of competent authorities in relation to the children and their rehabilitation and co-ordination with various official and non-official agencies concerned and to discharge such other functions as may be prescribed.
What is the CPC?
The primary function of the CPC is to act as a body of members that take up preventive work and also respond to violence against children in all forms. More details given in the handbook. The members include municipal corporator or village sarpanch (chairperson), anganwadi supervisor (member secretary), teachers, doctors, local community members, two child representatives.
This is an important step towards building community-based protection models.
Potential impact of active CPC
The potential of the CPC in resisting exploitation of children at the root level has been displayed in this lockdown itself. In Maharashtra which has seen a sharp increase in the incidences of child marriages has also seen active reporting and stopping of these marriages with the help of VCPCs and the DCPU (District Child Protection Unit). CPCs, if active and empowered, can play a huge role in curbing child labour, child trafficking, keeping a check on school push-out and domestic violence that a child may face.
Advocacy for CPC by Vidhayak Bharti
Since 2017, we have been liaising with different authorities and corporators to begin implementation on the 2014 GR. This involved meeting and sharing about the GR with municipal corporators in our work areas in Mumbai. In a city like Mumbai, one of the main challenges has been the confusing demarcations of electoral ward, administrative ward and local police station jurisdictions.
In 2018, we published our first handbook on Ward Child Protection Committees which helped bring more traction on the issue. created for understanding the basics for facilitating the formation of Child Protection Committees at ward level (urban). This has been endorsed by the Department of Women and Child Welfare (Mumbai City and Suburb) and circulated widely in the state among Bal Rakshaks (Schools) as well. Training sessions began with Anganwadi Supervisors – who play a key role in formation of the CPC.
In 2019, we held our first public meeting on CPC in our Mumbai office. It was attended by 2 CWC chairpersons (Milind Bidwai & Vijay Doiphode), DCPO (Vivek Bahekar) , PI in charge of SJPU (PI Pokharkar), Senior Medical Social Worker of KEM Hospital, individuals representing organisations like ACT, Fazlani Aishabai Trust, Rashtra Seva Dal, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Saksham Foundation, Sneha, Pratham, Save the Children India, Prerna, Navodaya, Mobile Creche among others. There were also others who came in their individual capacity. In the future, we aim to have more people participate as active citizens.
We have been supporting and facilitating the formation directly and indirectly across Mumbai. In 2019, we also started actively training in rural areas through our work & other fellow CSOs & networks – mainly Nandurbar, Solapur, Kolhapur, Pune among others.
In 2020, a crucial moment came through when Anganwadi supervisors of Mumbai Suburban area signed up for monthly training session & meeting in order to create a working group on child rights, child protection and to address implementation challenges. Every third Saturday, we would have them over but unfortunately, due to the pandemic and lockdown this process has come to a halt.
On 21st July 2020, we launched the latest Handbook on Child Protection Committee with CRY. You can access the handbook and read more about the event here.
This month, we had the pleasure of interacting with Ms. Manisha Birasis, program manager of the ICPS and assistant commissioner, DWCD over three Facebook live sessions. You can view them here:
Below are a 6 part series on Village Child Protection Committee that happened via Facebook.
Village Child Protection Committee – Part 6 https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=839031346574190&id=544945562649438
Keep watching this space for more info, lectures, resources and meetings on CPC. If you would like to get some guidance on forming CPC in your ward or village, you can write to us at [email protected] or call us at +91 96533 68140
Let’s build a protective environment for children, with children !