The Campaign Against Child Labour, West Bengal (CACL – WB), on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the CRC, held a two-day “Children’s Workshop on the Status of the Implementation of CRC in West Bengal”, on August 24-25, 2019, at IITD, Joka, Kolkata. A five-member children’s editorial board has been constituted for drafting the Alternative Children’s UNCRC report, reviewing the status of implementation of the convention in West Bengal; slated to release the first draft by September 15.
30 years after its adoption, the Convention on the Rights of Children (CRC) is almost universally ratified – every UN member State has ratified the Treaty, except the United States. However, numerous articles in the Convention have faced reservation from different member States. Furthermore, the CRC has been far from being implemented comprehensively, and till date, the giant it faces emanates from the perception of children as passive subjects than equal rights holders. This has prevented the realization of child rights as part of larger human rights, and therefore, ignores their civil and political rights of children in varying contexts and settings.
The Campaign Against Child Labour, West Bengal (CACL – WB), on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the CRC, held a two-day “Children’s Workshop on the Status of the Implementation of CRC in West Bengal,” on August 24-25, 2019, at IITD, Joka, Kolkata. Thirty children from the hills of Kalimpong; plains of Malda, Midnapore, 24 Parganas North, Mushidabad, Raigunj, and far islands of Sundarbans, participated. The children from the most marginalized sections, belonging to families working in tea gardens and those from the shunned and excluded red light areas of the Sundarbans, brought to the fore, their experiences of a childhood they never could have.
The platform provided an opportunity for the Campaign to engage children in voicing out their deprivations and aspirations vis-à-vis the UNCRC, in child-friendly methodology, entailing drawing, group discussions, score card, games etc. The children not only learned about their rights as enshrined in the UNCRC, but also reflected to what extent those were being enjoyed by them. They gathered information about the Government’s social welfare programmes and legal safeguards put in place by to ensure the realization of all the rights. They could understand the difference between the Needs and Desires and ranked what they considered an absolute necessity for them, set aside what they considered was luxury. Internet, fast food, expensive toys, mobile phone, chocolates and many other such items were categorized by children as desires.
Having been oriented on their role and stakes in reviewing the UNCRC, towards informing the Government of their level of satisfaction with their performance on ensuring child rights, the children ranked their satisfaction of the ICDC services, mid-day meals in schools, functioning of School Management Committees, children’s cabinet, health facilities and child protection mechanisms that they encounter on a regular basis.
Ms. Kritka, a child club member from Kalimpong (BSA-Caritas India), expressed the needs of children for education, medicines/ hospitals, bus/ communication, house, parents, friends, playground/parks, clothes, food, child line numbers cards, ICDS centre. “Basic rights of the child must be provided to us children by the families and Government”, was passionately articulated by her. The rights enshrined in the UNCRC were enacted by children through role plays, along with civil, political, economic and cultural factors encumbering their realisation.
“I was engaged in thread cutting work on the caps for straight 10 hours a day for 4 years and had to discontinue my studies due to compelling circumstances at home. I realized what I was missing; decided to re-enroll myself to school, which wasn’t free from difficulty initially, but I convinced my parents for it. I am happy getting back to the school. I am a child champion!”, said exhilarating Md. Waris, presently reading in class VIII. Thread cutting requires precise cutting with a sharp, curved blade, and causes a multitude of health issues, straining eyes and back being just preliminary concerns.
A five-member children’s editorial board has been constituted for drafting the report, and September 15 is expected to see the first draft of the Children’s Alternative UNCRC Status Report for West Bengal. The Campaign Against Child Labour in West Bengal is being convened by the Society for People’s Awareness (SPAN) and co-convened by Caritas India.
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