BANGALORE: The baby Falak case recently caught media attention and public outcry on child abuse. Unfortunately, these are not rare cases in the country. Children remain the most vulnerable section of our society. Proof of which you will find on a visit to Makala Sahayavani (Child help line) office. They have been putting continuous efforts towards safeguarding children rights and providing solutions to cases relating to children below 18 years of age. Makala Sahayavani is a branch of an NGO Parihar, works with the police body and has City Police Commissioner Jyothi Prakash Mirji as Chairman.
City Express takes a detailed look at the issues surrounding children in recent years and the role played by the Makala Sahayavani so far.
Over the years, child labour cases have decreased and cases of child custody have increased. In the year 2009-10, Makala Sahayavani confronted 52 cases relating to ‘custody of children from the father’. In the subsequent year 2010-11, the number of cases stood at 49. Athaula Baig, a police constable working for Makala Sahayavani, said, “Marriages are ending fast. Divorce cases are increasing day by day and argument erupts between the couples over custody of the child.”
Now volunteers have been trained to handle such cases. Premaja, a volunteer, said, “In cases of child custody, we try to reach to a solution through mediation and counselling. However, if it fails to yield any result, we refer it to the court and our contribution to that particular case ends there.” It is also to be noted that they do not take up any FIR cases.
There is a panel networking system comprising councillors, doctors, legal experts, and sexologists. Prabha, a councillor here, said, “When a party comes to us with an issue, we call both the parties to be present before us. If one party fails, we send a police notice to them. Once they come, we start counselling them. We then try to find the actual facts of the case according to the purview of the law.” She gives numerous examples of cases where the father has married again and was ignoring the children from the previous wedlock. “We ensure that the children get the maintenance they deserve,” she added.
As far as abandoned child cases are concerned, Premaja informed City Express, “Whenever we receive a call about an abandoned child, we send our personnel with a van and then refer the child to the ‘Government Shishu Mandir’. They advertise about the child and wait for a few days for any claimants to come forward. If no one comes to claim the child, then the child is sent to an adoption agency.”
However, whenever cases are as grave as child abuse, child labour, children running from home, harassment from school, children found begging — they are referred to Child Welfare Committee and they then refer such children to shelter homes for boys, girls, babies, and mentally-challenged.
Helpine: Whenever you see any child in distress, or being subjected to child abuse or labour, give a ring at 1098/22943224 and the officials will soon come to the child’s rescue.