Lucknow Journalists commit to the cause of child rights

Lucknow Journalists commit to the cause of child rights
Anjali Singh, CNS

Lucknow journalists joined hands with an organization working on child rights to sign a petition to stop child abuse. The media fraternity of Uttar Pradesh capital city has also urged the government to set up a Child Protection Unit in the state to put a stop to the rising incidences of crime against children. Read more

It has never happened before, thus it’s relevance is doubly important, specially so when the Fourth Estate unites for a worthy cause like child rights. That’s exactly what the media fraternity did in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, when they joined hands with an organization working on child rights to sign a petition to stop child abuse.

They also urged the government to set up a Child Protection Unit in UP to put a stop to the rising incidences of crime against children.

Informs, Saaksham Foundation, an organization addressing violations of child rights in Uttar Pradesh who led the petition campaign, “The media is fed up of writing and reporting on cases of inhuman attacks on children and not seeing anything done to stop it. So they were more than willing to raise they voice to tell the government that this cannot go on. And for the first time in history scribes from the city all joined hands to say enough is enough and asked the state government to do something to ensure safety of children in UP. Journalists from all the leading news papers and electronic media in the city including Times of India, Hindustan Times, Hindustan Hindi, Indian Express, The Pioneer, IANS, Aaj Tak and Times Now gave their overwhelming support to the petition when we approached them. The petition was handed over to the Chief Cabinet Secretary, Chief Minister Mayawati’s office, Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and Congress Youth Leader Rahul Gandhi.”

Adds Sharat Pradhan, Senior Journalist and Chief of Bureau IANS UP, who lend his full support to the petition as well, “I think this is a very encouraging move by the media. Its high time they start thinking about writing and getting sensitized about issues what they feel is not fashionable enough to report about. Now is the time journalists should get committed to social issues and take the initiative to shake their morality back to consciousness. I feel it is issues and campaigns like the joint media petition that will help them to that as most of them don’t think much of what is wrong and what is right unless they are motivated to get involved in such issues.”

Rightly said so, as the jointly signed petition not only demands setting up a Child Protection Unit in the State to address the increasing numbers of brutal attacks on children, but interestingly the scribes and the social organization have sought the provision of child friendly police station and police personnel to be placed at every thana in 71 districts of UP. The provision for which has been made in the Juvenile Justice Act 2006 and the directives of the National Human Rights Commission.

So why did the media react to the issue of child rights?

Answers Ravi Krishna, News Editor, Times of India, Lucknow, “Acts of violence against children are generally underplayed in the media unless an incident of the magnitude of Nithari happens. TV channels too use incidents to sensationalize the issue rather than substantiate it. This trivializing of news has resulted in poor public response to crimes against children. So it’s important from time to time to be a part of such initiatives so that the fourth estate is not taken lightly when sensitive issues like women and child rights are concerned.”

More so Krishna feels, “Sensationalism has ensured that crimes against children get a knee-jerk response form government agencies, including the judiciary at a time which has to grapple with weak prosecution. Thus there is a need to set up specific cells in the police department under the watch of registered NGOs and monitor their functioning at macro level. The government should work on a two-pronged strategy -- prevention and rehabilitation of victimised children. This petition hopefully will start a movement to help make it happen.”

A fact that is further corroborated by Siddarth Mathur, Principal Correspondent, India Express, Lucknow, “It’s quite frustrating when despite writing about the sensitive issues like child rights not much has changed. I hope that such moves like signing a petition together by the media fraternity can alter things and change mindsets. I know it won’t happen right away but in the future gradually a change can be brought in if repeated efforts are made to highlight such issues effectively.”

And efforts to ensure that consistent attempts are made to address children’s issues regularly, organizations like UNICEF Lucknow too are playing an important part in sensitizing the media in the city towards issues related to children.

Their fortnightly programme Media for Children held at the Lucknow Press Club has served as a effective catalyst to take the discussions on child rights to a appropriate level by the media.

Says Augustine Veliath, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Lucknow, “I have never before seen media respond to children’s issues as a group. They have openly told the state government that they are tired of reporting on children’s issue after issue and not seen any action to stop their victimization. It’s remarkable as they have taken this stand in the 20th year of the Convention for the Rights of The Child. I believe that media has a great role to play in protecting children and this joint petition by the media bears testimony to that. Media is the voice of the voiceless and children have no voice of their own. I am very thrilled that the media in Lucknow have regrouped to give children a voice.”

And what is the government speak on the petition?

On receiving the petition and going through the contents Vijay Shanker Pandey, Chief Cabinet Secretary expressed his concern over the issue and assured Director Saaksham Foundation that he will be looking into the matter and also call a meeting to discuss setting up a Child Protection Unit in UP soon.

Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights who also received a copy of the petition expressed her concern over the fact that children were being subjected to such brutal attacks and said she will take up the matter strongly and also expedite the process of setting up a State Commission for Protection of Child Rights in UP.

Amen to that!

Anjali Singh
(The author is a Special Correspondent to Citizen News Service (CNS) and also the Director of Saaksham Foundation. Email: anjali@citizen-news.org)


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