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ASCPCR launches campaign ‘Suraksha’ to end violence against children
Staff Reporter

 GUWAHATI, Oct 19 - The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) in collaboration with UNICEF Assam today launched a Statewide campaign ‘Suraksha’ to end violence against children (EVAC) in Assam. Violence against children has been a harsh reality across India, with Assam contributing to 3.8 per cent of the all-India cases of crimes against children, which is the highest in all the north-eastern states.

 The launch also marked the start of a three-month social media campaign, part of ASCPCR’s multi-sectoral response, to increase awareness on the three pillars of violence - maltreatment, sexual violence and peer abuse. The virtual launch that took place on ASCPCR’s Facebook page, was opened by its Chairperson Dr Sunita Changkakati. Inspector General of Police, CID Assam, Surender Kumar; UNICEF Assam’s Chief of Field Office Dr Madhulika Jonathan; Commissioner and Secretary, Department of Social Welfare, Government of Assam Mukesh C Sahu and CEO of Childline India Foundation Dr Anjaiah Pandiri attended the launch programme.

It needs mention here that the State saw an increase of 37.41 per cent in the number of crimes against children from 2017 to 2018, as per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). Cities such as Guwahati and districts such as Chirang, Darrang, Dhubri, Karimganj, Nagaon, Sonitpur and Tinsukia have become hotspots for child-trafficking in Assam.

According to ASCPCR, an increase in violence against children has been observed since the countrywide lockdown. Out of the total 216 cases registered in Assam since the lockdown, 113 cases (52 per cent) were related to sexual abuse of children, which is alarming.

Speaking on the importance of providing children with a violence-free environment for their holistic development, IGP CID, Kumar said violence against children, which has many forms, has an adverse impact that affects their ability to contribute to society. “Cooperation of all stakeholders is crucial to end violence, and the Assam Police has been prioritising this. We have strengthened the special juvenile police units (SJPU) and anti-human trafficking units (AHTU) across all districts of Assam, along with setting up of a Shishu Mitra Resource Centre in Guwahati in collaboration with UNICEF to provide onsite training and guidance to investigating officers dealing with cases involving violence against children,” he stated.

ASCPCR Chairperson Dr Changkakati said it is pertinent to deliberate on issues which affect children in Assam, as they constitute 41 per cent of the total State population. “Our campaign which is multi-sectoral in nature, will help bring the much-needed awareness amongst the public in Assam, and help everyone connect and bring forward issues that would need urgent notice of ASCPCR. We have the mandate to monitor violations of children’s rights, and at the same time, bring all stakeholders together for a joint and collaborative effort to create a safe and protective environment for children in Assam,” she further added.

UNICEF Assam’s Chief of Field Office Dr Jonathan stressed the need to build a multi-pronged collaboration among agencies addressing issues like health, education, social security and services for victims of violence. “Through the ‘Suraksha’ campaign, we aim to create public awareness on identifying and reporting on violence, and secondly, further strengthen the ongoing efforts in the State such as the Assam Police’s Sishu Mitra initiative, implementation of child protection services with a focus on alternative forms of childcare and quality institutional care, improving the standards of implementation of child-related laws in the State, and building the capacities of child protection workforce,” she mentioned.

The ‘Suraksha’ campaign aims to build a public understanding of the impact of violence, exploitation and abuse on children, and the future economic and social costs. Information will be shared on ASCPCR’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

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