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Glaring omissions in TN child policy

The document, produced by the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department, has several glaring omissions. 

Published: 25th November 2021 07:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th November 2021 07:07 AM   |  A+A-

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The Tamil Nadu government recently released the State Child Policy, which seeks to lay a framework to improve the well-being of children. However, activists have flagged that the policy itself appears to have been framed with little input from civil society or experts. The document, produced by the Social Welfare and Women Empowerment Department, has several glaring omissions. 

The policy is divided into four sections: Life, Survival, Health and Nutrition; Education; Protection; and Participation. While it adopts a relatively holistic approach to aspects of health by mentioning the need for interventions for pregnant women and new mothers, it has no mention of the vulnerabilities of girl children. Similarly, when it comes to Protection, the policy inexplicably mentions forming POSH committees in schools. These panels are mandated at workplaces under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, which protects adult women. There are two key laws focused on children—the Juvenile Justice Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act—and both are not referenced in the policy. This is particularly egregious as TN has a high pendency of POCSO cases and only a quarter of those that go to trial end in convictions. Also, sexual violence against children is not restricted to schools, a fact the policy glosses over. 

The policy speaks of creating safe and respectful online spaces, a noble pursuit albeit possibly impractical. Yet it speaks naught of empowering children to safely use and navigate the internet. On the same note, it does not consider the need for children to be educated and empowered with regard to their own safety and protection. The policy follows up on the National Policy for Children in 2013 and adopts several points from the document but omits the section on training and capacity building. Yet without training and capacity building, how will TN realise its vision for children? While the state’s efforts provide a starting point, the government must reassess the document and ensure its lacunae are addressed after proper public consultation with civil society and experts before moving forward in creating a plan of action. 
 



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