Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Two-Day Consultation on Child Marriage

The KCRO and Partners' Consultation on Child Marriage was held on November 6 -7, 2008, at Bijapur. NGOs from the seven Uttara Karnataka districts most affected by this problem attended in strength as did the students of the Mahila University. which collaborated in the event. Several presentations on various aspects of the issue held the rapt attention of all on the first day, while the second was mostly focussed on action plans for each of the districts involved. the working groups that drew up the plans were composed of officials from various departments at the district level, NGOs and some academics.

The day prior to the meeting began with field visits by the KCRO teams in both rural areas around Bijapur and in the slums of the town itself. Issues revealed during these visits were aired at the meeting. In the afternoon, drawing and elocution competitions on the subject of child marriage were held. There were a gratifying number of good entries. Moreover, the children enjoyed the competitions.

The Mahila University Social Work department expressed keen interest in following this initiative with focus on other aspects of child rights, especially those related to the problems of girl children.


CRT [Child Rights Trust] has been recognised by the Government of Karnataka for its contribution in the field of Child Welfare for the year 2008.

The award will be given on 14th Nov. 2008 on the occasion of Children's Day at Jawahar Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park Bangalore at 10 am.

We are very conscious that our efforts to work for children's rights would have not achieved any results but for the support and contributions of many child right activists and organisations.

There is still so much to do and we count on all of you to continue our common struggle so that Every Child has Every Right.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Your commitment to Child Rights can be demonstrated in several ways. You can practise the one, two, three principle by donating:
One per cent of your income,
Two of your time, and
Three of your lobbying efforts for children, their childhood, their rights.

Child Rights Trust extends to you an avenue to do any or all three of these. Write to us for details on how you can donate time and effort. To donate financially, see below:

In India,
a] Send a cheque or demand draft to Child Rights Trust,
4606, 6th Floor, High Point IV, Palace Rd., Bangalore 560001

b] Do a direct bank transfer ...
Bank of India,
Account Number: 840110100019756
Account type: Savings A/C
Malleswaram Branch, Bangalore

Donations in Rupees are tax-deductible in India.

Outside India,

Pay online to Foundation for Children and Women [http://www.f4cw.org/]
[for Child Rights Trust]

Donations in US Dollars are tax-deductible in the USA.

Kindly send an email to crtindia@yahoo.co.in, with your postal address, when you make a donation to CRT or FCW so that we can send you a receipt.

We thank you in advance for your support.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Election Advocacy 2004: final meeting

For the 2004 national and state elections, CRT joined hands with IACR, CACL and PAC to campaighn for full consideration of children's rights by parties in their manifestos, candidates in their campaign promises and voters in their decision on whom to vote for. The campaign ended with a state-wide consultation, where a few children represnting the many more who had met candidates with their various demands in different districts also participated. [See one of the media reports on this meet alongside]. Some candidates also attended this meeting.


Saturday, August 30, 2008

Launch of the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory

Karnataka Child Rights Observatory [KCRO] Launch.

KCRO is a consortium of NGOs, academic institutions, network organisations, with Child Right Trust as the coordinating organization. UNICEF is supporting this initiative to monitor the situation of children in Karnataka and to support various advocacy and lobbying activities to uphold rights of the child.

The project was launched in Bangalore on June 30th 2008.

Mr. Vasudeva Sharma, Director, CRT welcomed all the participants from different places and started briefing them with scope and functioning of KCRO. ”Karnataka Child Rights Observatory is an omnibus project with a number of sub-projects that together converge to provide data, analysis, publicity and pressure (as needed) for both Government and civil society to act in the best interest of the child. KCRO will be run by a consortium of NGOs and academic institutions/individuals with Child Rights Trust as the coordinating organisation”.

Dr. Shalini, IAS, DWCD, GoK thanked all the NGOs and wished this programme a grand success. She stressed the point that the best outcomes rest on team work. Government’s action plans have been initiated up to 2010 for realizing the MDGs jointly with the health and education department. New steps that have been initiated through anganwadis are Programme for Anaemic children; Child Tracking, Awareness on Child Marriages, Immunization, and Disability program to set right their disabilities in the children by conducting required surgeries. She also added that training is being conducted for anganwadi workers to recognise disabilities and report the same to the health department. Steps are being taken with regard to abandoned children by training youths through a massive awareness campaign for community participation on this issue.

Ms. Sudha Murali, Officer-in-Charge, UNICEF Hyderabad, commented that the rights of children are fundamental and CRC has mandated that their rights should be considered as a legal obligation, moral imperative and development priority. She also added that Karnataka as a state has showcased and pioneered many innovative initiatives like Nali-Kali, School Sanitation; programmes for combating Child Labour etc. These are done in coordination with NGOs for the development of women and children. She also stated that DWCD and UNICEF are setting up a Child Protection Unit basically to implement various initiatives related to children and ensure convergence. Training, capacity building and networking are the key elements that will enrich the work of the Observatory.

Dr.Padmini, Trustee, CRT, presented slides on the status of Karnataka’s Children, as well as their progress on some key Child right Indicators including infant and child mortality, health and nutrition, sex ratio, school dropouts, literacy, water and sanitation, poverty etc. She pointed out that nationally collected data often do not agree with departmental or state level data, thus making comparisons across all levels difficult. The latter presented a more positive picture of the situation of children in the state, but the former were generally accepted as solid and accurate.
Despite these technical and conceptual problems, it was clear that Karnataka has a long way to go before it can reach the U.N. goals [MDGs and WFFC goals] or even catch up with its neighbouring states. Within Karnataka itself, the northern region was lagging behind the rest in most of the indicators. She further highlighted the analysis of the implications of the data presented, and possible causes for poor status or inadequate progress.

Ms. Suchitra Rao, UNICEF Project Officer, chaired the Q&A and open forum discussions. She commented that KCRO is concentrating on many special issues representing children. She questioned the gathering as to its ideas on how to go about it. What are the scientific and technical approaches that are needed so as to affect advocacy? And how to reach the new heights which will have impact on the children?

A series of responses came regarding the priorities among the themes to take up in the Observatory - requirement of a good database, lack of awareness on child rights, poverty, globalization etc and also to concentrate on the issues like:

  • Birth Registration
  • ECCD
  • Reasons for the infant and child death
  • NFH survey which is not matching with the sate government response
  • Female infanticide/sex ratio level
  • Gender disparity imbalance
  • To know about sufficient number of anganwadi schools for the children
  • The effect of primary education
  • Malnutrition & over-nutrition
  • Child sexual abuse and impact of the electronic media
  • Budget tracking in Karnataka
  • Is Quality education available for the children and how is it effective?
  • State response towards street children, HIV victims children, child labour, and to a deinstitutionalized approach.
  • School dropouts after 14 years of age, consequences, situations pertaining to it.

Some of the participants suggested that a strong database is needed. It should function independently irrespective of the time period Some also suggested that KCRO work should move beyond NGOs and it should come into contact with community development organisations. Mr.Vikas Verma, UNICEF Communications Officer, commented that KCRO is the voice of children, which looks at larger issues and not just the symptoms. UNICEF will facilitate it to make this voice heard by the desired audience. He also commented that the organisation is also working towards creating the website to reach out larger people.
Dr. Padmini stated that KCRO would be a separate entity. It should neither be identified as a separate NGO nor with CRT nor with UNICEF. She suggested that the name should be the Karnataka Child Right Observatory [KCRO}. It will be the people’s voice, which will have greater impact on the children.
Ms. Nina Naik, Chairperson, KSCCW, made the final comments, summing up the consensus of the group. She stressed that KCRO belongs to all, and it will take up all the burning issues of children with collective voice.

The programme ended with a promise to meet again in other parts of Karnataka and work towards children’s rights, with everyone contributing towards KCRO.

Concept Note on the Karnataka Child Rights Observatory

Karnataka Observatory on
Children's Rights Status and Progress
[A project supported by UNICEF, Hyderabad]

I. Introduction
The UN Convention on the Rights of the (CRC) has laid the onus of ensuring that every child realizes her/his rights on parents, but in the eventuality that they cannot or do not fulfill this role adequately, the State is enjoined to support or even step in to do so.

The duty to enable child rights whether by planning and implementing suitable programmes or by education of the parents, carries with it the corresponding duties of regularly monitoring and periodically evaluating their status, the role that the state has envisaged for itself as well as for other actors such as parents, family, civil society and academics, the process of both planning and implementation, and the relationship among inputs, outputs and outcomes. It also casts upon the State the role of an advocate for the Child.

The global WFFC review (2007) as well as cross-sectional and trend data from national and state level sources reveal that the achievements in India in the last half decade have fallen far short of the WFFC goals as well as of the MDG goals [since the last decade and a half]. But there are still many gaps and contradictions in the data that need to be investigated. Moreover, the data are generally macro - or meso - level, while data at local levels, where the actions need to be specifically targeted, are often not available even if they do exist with local organisations or the authorities. Generally, too, the causes of such shortfalls are not probed into. Yet another problem is that governments are not willing to acknowledge the full extent of the shortfalls but are dismissive of civil society findings when faced with them.
The result is that on the one hand, there is some immediate hand-wringing when the data are released and some generic responses or none at all – the data are only the sensation of the moment.
This scenario is not in the least conducive to the realisation of child rights in India even while the economy is growing and talent and expertise is not wanting.
Hence a systematic attempt to examine the policies, programmes and budgets that Government as well as NGOs have put in place with the aim of helping achieve the WFFC/MDG goals is needed. It is also necessary to examine the commitments to children that various political parties and people’s representatives make at the time of elections and measure the actual performance of those in power. The findings from such efforts can feed into both monitoring the State's implementation of the Convention and lobbying for children's rights.

This type of project will have greater credibility and clout if spearheaded by some eminent persons. Such an attempt needs to be a collaborative effort of several civil society organisations, so that there is maximum coverage as well as possibilities of building on the strengths of various partners’ concerted action and advocacy. It should create space for the voice of children. Also the various activities and programmes should interlink with each other. The project will keep in touch with, and involve, Government in the process, but will be independent of it.
Overall, the Observatory will be a rich source of information, analysis of data and policy, for all stakeholders. Since it is an independent body that draws on the expertise and concern of child rights activists all over the state, it will be a strong child rights resource centre. It is expected that not only NGOs but also government departments and the proposed State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights will use it for data, analysis and policy suggestions.

II. Objectives and Scope of the Observatory

The overall objective is to set up a Child Rights Observatory in Karnataka that is run by a consortium of NGOs & academics with Child Rights Trust as the coordinating organisation. The word “Observatory” is used more in a conceptual sense than a physical one: The project will an omnibus one with a number of sub-projects that together converge to provide the data, analysis, publicity and pressure [as needed] for both Government and Civil Society to act in the best interests of the Child. It will follow and document the progress of child rights realisation in the state over time; the collaborating organisations will use the findings and materials to strengthen their advocacy and actions.

With the Child Rights Observatory as a source for information and analysis on the status of children in the state with respect to various indicators, running through the entire duration of the project, other sub-projects will be carried out in the next five years with different timelines as needed.

III. The Observatory

With its experience in the field child rights research, advocacy, lobbying with field experience, CRT is confident that it can develop and coordinate the proposed Observatory project in Karnataka. This omnibus project will have two aspects with several sub-projects as follows:

A. Child Rights Resource Centre : will have activities such as Media Analysis, Data Bank at different levels Research Studies, Budget Analysis, CRC, NPAC & SPAC Monitoring, Analysis of CWC Cases;

B. Child Rights Advocacy - Children's Parliaments, Children's Poll, Pre-election Campaigns, Post-election Follow-up; Accountability of Peoples' Representatives at all Levels – Q & A Analysis, Child-friendly legislators, Legislators' Forum, Special Grama Sabhas/ULB Sabhas.

The two sub-projects have inter-linkages and each will utilise the results and sometimes the processes of the other project.

A. Child Rights Resource Centre:
i. Media Analysis: Media Analysis and scanning of media reports on violation of child rights and initiation of corrective actions by the concerned authorities; highlighting reports on best practices and case studies on good developments. The Child Rights Observatory sends a fortnightly email news bulletin to the stake holders to highlight the situation of children as reported in various print media.
ii. Data Bank at different levels: Quantitative and qualitative studies, based on primary and secondary data, will be collected through various sources by CRT and through NGO/Academic partners. The analysis of these data will form the basis for the other sub-projects.
iii. Reports on the Status of Children: Provision of inputs into CRC Alternate Reports at various intervals as required; monitoring of NPAC and SPAC, and updates on the situation of children in South India, Karnataka and India.
iv. Budget Analysis: Analysis of the state budget allocations and expenditures on children’s issues and advocacy for higher/adequate allocations as well as their use.
v. Analysis of CWC Cases: CWCs in the state have a lot of data on violations of child rights and decisions on them. Analysis of these will yield rich dividends

B. Child Rights Advocacy

i. Election Advocacy
Post-election follow-up with the successful candidates
a. Children's Parliaments: Consultations for children to speak out freely on various issues concerning them.

b. Q & A Analysis: Analysis of the Question Hour of the Legislative Assembly and Council to bring out the importance given to children's issues by people's representatives, the quality and type of questions and also the quality, reliability and accuracy of the answers given by the Government.

c. Child-friendly Legislators: For the past three years, CRT and UNICEF have been honouring state legislators who asked the most questions about children's issues in the Legislature with the title Child-friendly Legislators. Already some pay-off has been seen in some of them asking CRT for more information and suggestions on issues to raise in the respective Houses.

d. Forum of Legislators for Children: Another dividend in the making is that some legislators have expressed interest of creating a Forum for children among them.
When the houses of legislature are again in place, this initiative will need to be followed upon and the CRT will have to service the Forum with sensitisation, information and support to their efforts to act as a caucus for children.

e. Child-Friendly Grama Sabhas/ULB Sabhas: Provision of inputs and methodology to Gram Panchayats and local NGOs for organising and conducting Grama Sabhas on children’s issues at Grama Panchayat level as per the circular issued by the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Department, Government of Karnataka. The government is contemplating doing this in urban areas local bodies will also be covered with that expectation.

f. Media Events and Materials: Organization of periodic media events to publicise children’s issues from various sources in order to create awareness among public, officials, parents, communities and children; and to support advocacy for child rights.

IV. Partners and Advisers
CRT will look to all its state partners as well as UNICEF and expect to also benefit from the guidance of some eminent social leaders and experienced activists [some suggested names are depicted in the chart below]. The advisory board for the observatory will meet once in three months to take stock of the developments and also to guide the team for future activities. The findings of the advisory board will be shared with media for wider reach.

Government departments concerned with the child will be periodically apprised of the progress in KCRO and its outputs will be shared. They will be also involved in discussions of the results of the project as per the need and feasibility.

Child Rights Grama Sabhas in Karnataka

Change from the Grassroots

Over the paast few years, CRT has been conducting an action research project in 15 gram panchayats [five each from three taluks] in Bellary district of Karnataka state. To start with, the gram panchayat members and the community were contacted for authentic data on child issues - Secondary data on women and child health, well-being and education status were collected from the anganawadi worker, ANM and primary school staff.

After the survey, the status of children in the panchayat was discussed with the GP members, raising key issues like child labour, infant mortality rate, immunization, malnutrition, child trafficking, school dropouts, gender discrimination, infanticide and foeticide, child marriage, maternal mortality, etc.

But the CRT reseachers were doubtful whether the GPs would follow up with the needed actions that the data had brought up and the sustainability of the project in both Bellary and other districts. Looking into the role of gram panchayats in keeping track of their children's well-being and organising community and concerned departments to tackle shortfalls, new strategies were thought of.

CRT approached the Rural Development and Panchayati Raj [RDPR] department, Government of Karnataka, with the concept of Child Rights Grama Sabhas. The then director of the department was impressed by CRT's presentation at 'Manthana' (a monthly brainstorming get-together organised by the deptarment.) and circulated an order to keep track of children at gram panchayat level and to conduct special Grama Sabhas on children’s issues every year from 13th -30th November.

The circular which was approved in September 2006 directs the CEOs of zilla panchayats to monitor the conducting of Child Rigths Grama Sabhas and submit reports to the head office.

By this historical achievement, CRT's continued work became more active in the pilot project at Bellary district. As the circular reached the GPs in late November and since they were confused how to conduct Child Rights Grama Sabhas, CRT facilitated the process in all its project taluks. Initiatives have been taken in some villages to conduct Grama Sabhas by local groups. However. where the CEO's order did not yet reach, the gram panchayat members were in a dilemma and could not conduct the sabhas.

The Direct and Spin-Off Effects

Some Highlights of the Grama Sabhas Conducted so far:
In Bellary district, eight gram panchayats in which CRT is working, immediately organised 'Children's Grama Sabhas' and successfully conducted discussions on topics mentioned in the RDPR circular. Taluk panchayat and zilla panchayat executive officers attended most of the Grama Sabhas along with all the department representatives mentioned in the RDPR circular.

In Hospet taluk No.10 Muddapur gram panchayat, the Grama Sabha was attended by children who raised their voice on their school problems. Following are the outcomes.
a. The children complained that their school compound was used as a day shed for the cows and bullocks and there was no place to play for them. The problem was solved the very next day. People understood the right of children and the playground was made free for children to play.
b. People complained that there was no anganawadi centre in the areas; soon the anganawadi has been sanctioned and construction began.
c. Grama Sabha members took the responsibility regarding dropout children and decided to work with the children's census program [conducted annually by the Education Department] and conduct the survey of children in their gram panchayat.
d. In Hovina hadagali taluk, 10 Children's Grama Sabhas have been conducted till now. GP members resolved that they would reserve 10% of funds in their action plan to create a child welfare fund to implement child development programs and help poor children go to school.
e. In Gangavathi taluk Karatagi gram panchayat, a Grama Sabha was organised in the grounds of a high school to grab the attention of the public. Welcoming the government decision to conduct 'Child Rights Grama Sabha', the GP organised the Grama Sabha in a grand manner and passed resolutions to include children in the next Grama Sabha, as at this time, it was conducted during the exam season and children were not able to attend it. Problems of anganawadi workers were heard and panchayat members promised to consult the state government to solve the building and lack of equipment and other problems in the anganawadis. They gave an assurance that in the next action plan of the GP, some percentage of the funds would be used for children’s welfare programs.

In Mangalore and Udupi districts, gram panchayat members distributed school bags along with handouts giving information about child rights in order to campaign about 'Child Rights Grama Sabha among the community; they also conducted Grama Sabhas successfully.
In Davanagere district more than eight gram panchayats organised Grama Sabhas from December 2006 to february 07. At the end of every Grama Sabha, the media collected opinions of children who attended it. A primary school student, Rudresh from Mudahadadi village said that - Till now we used to share our problems only in front of our parents but after participating in this Grama Sabha, I got the confidence that I can share my problem in front of so many people and I am hopeful about getting solutions for my problems. - He opined that after the implementation of the Child Rights Grama Sabha, children need not feel inferior and suppress their feelings and opinions.
In some Grama Sabhas of Davanagere district, the GP members passed resolutions to bring back the dropouts and child labourers to schools. To achieve this, they planned strategies like sensitizing the parents about child rights and the importance of education. They also would pressurise the parents who were not sending their children to school by not renewing their ration cards etc.

Update as of October 2008
RDPR has now decided to have all GPs trained on child rights and on the Children's Special Grama Sabhas. The GPs will have to conduct these sabhas year to review the
situation of children in their area and take affirmative actions to
uphold Child rights. CRT is providing both technical and material help
to RDPR through training and consultations.

CRT-organised Campaign for child rights in manifestos and by voters, 2004

One lakh copies of this pamphlet, in both Kannada and English, were distributed all over Karnataka with the help of various NGOs to sensitise both voters and candidates to the needs of children during the 2004 National and State election. In this venture, CRT had the help of Campaign against Child Labour, Karnataka [CACL -K], Public Affairs Centre [PAC] and several NGOs.
The cost of the logo of the children holding the banner was borne by India Alliance for Child Rights [IACR]. It can be translated as:
'Stand for My Rights; Vote for My Rights'

Now the time has come for another national election, and CRT is plannning, funds permitting, to launch another campaign as before:
  • Lobby with all the parties in the state for inclusion of appropriate child-supportive promises in their respective manifestos.
  • Organise, with the help of local NGOs, face-to-face meets of children and concerned adults with candidates in all districts to place both macro and micro level demands from the Child Rights perspective.
  • Print and disseminate lakhs of similar handbills all over the state to voters on the eve of the election dates.
  • Use other media opportunities such as press conferences, radio and TV shows also.
  • Help organise meetings of local NGOs with elected representatives in different areas to discuss their specific plans to follow up on their and their party's promises.
  • Hold, with support of local NGOs, annual follow-up meetings to review progress and discuss further plans.

Monday, August 11, 2008



Shocked that you are even asked such a question?
Sorry, but think again!

Do any of these problems affect your/our children, or
those of your family/friends, city state or our
society at large?

Chronic poor health & malnourishment, gender &
caste/community discrimination, education access
barriers or its poor quality, child labour, physical
or sexual abuse, environmental degradation, housing
lack or poor quality, disability, abandonment,
orphanhood, views unheard and no part in decisions
about self.

In greater or smaller measures, one or more such
problems affect most children.
Additionally, each phase of childhood has some special

Unto Three Years of Age: The Key Development Phase.
Death before first birthday or month: mostly
Female feticide with modern techniques or
Low Birth weight: survival or good health endangered.
No exclusive breastfeeding till six months; later,
poor supplementary feeding.
Preventable disabilities are not detected or treated
early enough.
Motor, cognitive & emotive development is below par
among many [this age group sees over 90% of such
development in an individual].

Three to Six Years of Age:The Play and Learn Age
*Not in pre-schools of any type; often, these drill
children into school readiness with inappropriate
learning rather than use play methods for overall

Six to Fourteen Years of Age:The Foundation Years
* Not in school, or drop outs, due to problems in
school: access, treatment, teacher performance, basic
facilities, fees or other costs, malnourishment,
irrelevance; child labour, with girls especially put
to domestic chores, or married off.
Rote learning, heavy homework and school bags, endless
tuitions, exam pressures, narrow academic curriculum
and irrelevance, leading to lack of recreation,
stifling of curiosity, poor health, lop-sided
development and loss of childhood.
Family discord, alcoholism, poverty, parent's iron
control, communication lack, turn children off
leading to runaways,vagabonds, conflict with the law.
Parental expectations burden the school-goers; the
working child harassed.
The onset of adolescence ignored – no life skills,
health and sex education,
.Parental control still absolute with children's views
not being heard.
Discrimination, abuse, work, marriage for girls
shatter what is left of childhood.

Fourteen to eighteen Years – The Child on the Brink of
Not even considered childhood or even adolescence.
Gender disparities widen, abuse, especially sexual,
School-goer buried in a career path determined by
parent, divorced from life's realities; the working
child puffing on, mired in them; and the married girl
already an emotionally & physically unripe mother,
ruining her & her child's health.
Communication gap abysmal.
Maybe you are rightly happy and proud that your own
children do not suffer from these problems, that you
and your family are not violating their rights – not
their rights to an abuse-free and happy childhood, to
freedom from heavy school pressures and grilling, or
child labour, or gender discrimination; their rights
to recreation, development, expression, and a share
of the decision-making.

But have you/we no responsibility towards those
children who do suffer these?

Should we not ask why such children, and so many of
them, find their rights violated? The typical feeling
is that their families are totally responsible or that
it is the government's duty or some well-meaning

The former point is valid only in a literal sense, as
poor remuneration, lack of steady employment,lack of
education/skills & bad traditions conspire to pull
such families down. And, while it is certainly
government's duty and the NGOs' objective to remedy
the situation, the root causes are society's doing.

So, we do need to do something about this individually
and collectively:
Don't employ child labour but educate one from a needy
Practise gender parity at home and work and
Practise respect for diversity and not caste/community
Ensure fair remuneration to both organised and
unorganised workers.
Give children the chance to express their views, and
consider them seriously, particularly on matters that
concern them.
Support good traditions and battle against bad ones.

Practise the one, two, three principle: one per cent
of your income, two of your time, and three of your
lobbying for children, their childhood, their rights.