Today I went to the CWC aka Child Welfare Committee
aka the Children's Court. These committees were set up post 2000. They have the final authority to dispose of cases for the care, protection, treatment, development and rehabilitation of children as well as to provide for their basic needs and human rights.
That it took independent India over sixty years to enact legislation to protect children speaks for itself. The CWC came into our lives when we sought help to get Utpal freed from the clutches of his greedy and uncaring family. After long deliberations the CWC in its wisdom decided that Utpal would be under the care of the boarding school during school times and under my care during the holidays. I was declared person deemed fit
to look after his interest. A wearisome procedure was set in place: a letter had to be produced by us before each school break and then the CWC issued an order allowing Utpal to stay at home, then the child had to be produced in court each and every time and finally a letter had to be given after the child had been dropped to school. This is done 4 to 5 times a year. For us it is just an irksome bit of extra paper work but for Utpal it is quite stressing and unpleasant. Poor boy hates it.
I almost thought of trying to plead with the CWC to waive this appearance but then decided not to because come to think about it they are just protecting the child, and every child in India needs protection. Were I not to have Utpal appear in court once I had the necessary papers what stopped me from withdrawing him for school and having him work at home. The papers are replete of cases of minors working in homes of educated people. The latest case being that of a 13 year old being locked
in a flat while her employers, both doctors, went holidaying in Bangkok. But that is not all: the child was made to do gruelling work and was beaten and abused if she faltered. They even had a CCTV to keep check on her! This inhumane treatment had been going on for two years. The child was just 11 when she began working for these monsters. It appears that the child was just fed twice a day. One would have thought that educated persons would behave otherwise but sadly that is not the case. What is worse is that all the sectiosn mentioned in the FIR are bailable and the monster couple is likely to get away with this as is always the case. Another case made it to the newspapers last week: it was about yet another child employed by yet another doctor and abused with impunity.
Children are meant to be precious yet we have mastered the art of ill treating them. Little Pari
was abandoned in a train. The impish child is now in an orphanage waiting for a new life. And how can we forget little Falak
who suffered the worst kind of abuse and finally died after battling for over two months. And these are not exceptions. Every day children are kidnapped, traded, used, used and abused. True it does not happen to OUR children so we do not give a hoot. Yet these are not invisible children. A conservative estimate of child labour is 14 million children under the age of 14. How many of us would take the cudgels for a child? Not many is the sad answer. We see children begging at traffic lights, children working in tea shops and even children working in neighbours and friends homes. But we remain mute spectators or worst roll out our window and hand over a coin. It is time we did something. There are laws in place. It is time we saw they were implemented.
The CWC acts on information that comes their way. In spite of our apathetic and cynical attitude to institutions they actually work. Utpal's case is ample proof. Children are reunited with their families, rescued from nightmarish conditions and above all protected.
So I will stop grumbling about Utpal's court appearances. I know it if for his own good.