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Goa shows the way in child welfare
Sandesh Prabhudesai in Panaji | April 29, 2003 19:31 IST
Goa has introduced a bill to promote, protect and support efforts to uphold the rights of children.
"It is my endeavour to make Goa the country's first child-friendly state during the Year of the Child we are observing," Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said after introducing the bill in the assembly on Tuesday.
After 14 participatory consultations, a state-level workshop held in January had adopted the Goa Declaration on the Rights of the Child. The state policy for children formulated on this basis had recommended enacting a law to take care of uncovered areas in central acts.
The legislation deals with children's education, health and nutrition.
It promises to eradicate all forms of child labour in two years and child illiteracy in three years by formulating separate plans of action.
Offences will invite a fine between Rs 25,000 and Rs 50,000 with simple imprisonment. The fines will be credited to the State Children's Fund. The bill, however, states that no action will be initiated unless a satisfactory rehabilitation programme is prepared.
When it comes to school admissions, the bill calls for 'zero rejection' even if a child is suffering from AIDS.
Having trained counsellors in schools and elected students' councils from standard VIII onwards will also be made mandatory.
The bill proposes to include in the curriculum child rights and gender justice, health education as well as yoga, pranayam and meditation.
While banning corporal punishment, the bill proposes participatory evaluations rather than examinations.
The legislation proposes compulsory immunisation from MMR, Rubella and Hepatitis B. The government as well as private sector will have to provide six-month maternity leave as well as crèches and day care centres for infants and their working mothers.
Special provisions are also proposed to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girls, which result in unethical practices such as prenatal sex selection etc. The bill speaks against child pornography and violent portrayals of a girl child through the media.
The state proposes to constitute a commission for children, advisory groups, steering committees.
The bill, formulated in consultation with non-governmental organisations, calls for special courts where offences against children will be tried. The guidelines provide for in-camera trials, protecting identity of the child victim and avoiding aggressive questioning or cross-examination.
More reports from Goa