Guidelines for child artistes: Stakeholders want strict compliance, NCPCR chief gives assurance

The aim is to protect child artistes in films, TV, reality shows, social media and OTT platforms from physical and psychological stress while ensuring a healthy work environment for them.

Published: 31st July 2022 12:50 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st July 2022 12:50 PM   |  A+A-

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NEW DELHI: The draft NCPCR guidelines related to child artistes in the entertainment industry, once notified, would attract strict action in case of violation, the apex child rights body's chairperson Priyank Kanoongo has said, placating stakeholders' concern over its effectiveness.

The key features of the draft guidelines of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) include no child should be allowed to work for more than 27 consecutive days, not more than a six-hour shift and depositing 20 per cent of the child's income in a fixed deposit account in a nationalised bank.

The aim is to protect child artistes in films, TV, reality shows, social media and OTT platforms from physical and psychological stress while ensuring a healthy work environment for them.

Filmmaker Vinod Kamble, whose 2019 film 'Kastoori' looking into the travails of a 14-year-old Dalit boy from a family of manual scavengers won the Best Children's Film award at the 67th National Film Awards last year supported the proposed guidelines.

Kamble said that he has ensured that the education of children who worked in his movie is not impacted in any way during the making of the film.

"The children would stay with me and go to school regularly. I didn't do any shooting involving them during their examination," he told PTI.

He stressed that special focus must be given to children below 14 years, claiming they are made to work for 18 hours a day at reality shows these days.

"We need a group or organisation which could observe the situation and take necessary action if required. Also, there must be a clause in children's work agreement to ensure they are not exploited," the filmmaker added.

Dolly Dhawan, the mother of child actor Ruhanika Dhawan of TV serial 'Ye Hai Mohabbatein' fame, also welcomed the draft guidelines.

She said Ruhanika was just five-and-a-half years old when she acted in the serial.

"As parents, we knew it was a fun time for her at school and it was pretty much doable. The first two years were pretty disturbing and it was taxing in a way and after that, we decided that this is not how it is going to work," she told PTI over the phone.

Dolly Dhawan said she kept on demanding that Ruhanika would be working from Friday to Sunday so that her education does not suffer and the makers of the show finally agreed.

"She did not miss her school on Friday. But for the first two years, she worked very hard juggling schools and shooting. But then, we put our foot down and they did adjust," Ruhanika's mother said.

But there were many children on the sets who were not primary characters and not an integral part of the show and they would be the first ones to arrive and last ones to leave.

They also had to share rooms, she claimed.

"It did break my heart and I am glad that the NCPCR is talking about it. If this (draft guidelines) gets implemented then nothing like it," she added.

Kanoongo, the chairperson of NCPCR, said 90 per cent of the components of these draft guidelines have been taken from existing laws.

It is being brought especially to ensure that these laws are implemented properly, he said.

"We will take strict action if we come across any violation and even state commissions will be on board for it," he told in response to PTI's question about how strict implementation of the guidelines would be ensured.

Social activists and groups noted that the key to the success of the guidelines would be their strict implementation.

Sunitha Krishnan, chief functionary and co-founder of Prajwala, an NGO that rescues and rehabilitates sex-trafficked victims into society, said any guidelines are welcome but the question is how binding it is, how implementable it is and where it is implemented.

"There is a whole range of things that impact child actors, including their labour conditions and the kind of programming and content in which children are used," she told PTI.

Krishnan said the ultimate goal is that childhood has to be conserved and nurtured.

"These days, children are made to talk and behave like adults, especially in dance reality shows where some of them gyrate on songs which are not child-appropriate. For all of these things guidelines are necessary," she said.

But at the same time it is important who is the implementing authority, Krishnan said.

"The television industry is huge. So, who is the nodal person and how it can be implemented are some of the practical questions on the viability of the guidelines."

Puja Marwaha, the CEO of Child Rights and You (CRY) said child artistes are often the invisible victims of child labour.

"Having laws for these children is futile unless there is a strong commitment from all stakeholders to ensure their rights," she said.

Referring to a recent study by CRY, she said that in reality, many child artistes end up working for 12-13 hours a day and six days a week which is a clear violation of the law.

Apart from affecting their education, it leaves a huge negative impact on children's health and psychosocial wellbeing, Marwaha said.

Sudarshan Suchi, the CEO of Save the Children, said the successful implementation of these draft guidelines lies in the accountability of the stakeholders and massive dissemination and sensitisation among the children, their parents over, the production houses and the monitoring bodies.

"Child protection experts and civil society organisations can play a strong supportive role in creating child protection policies and conducting training on the same," Suchi said.

India Matters


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