Thirty-two disability rights organisations and activists have addressed a joint letter to the Minister for Women & Child Development, Smt. Smriti Irani, objecting to the opaque manner in which amendments are being sought to be introduced to the rules governing the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) Act.

In their joint letter dated November 8, 2019, they have expressed concern about the non-availability of the draft of the proposed amendments in the public domain, depriving major organisations working among children, women, LGBTQI and the disabled to contribute by making suggestions/comments.

That children irrespective of gender can be abused and need protection was first recognised by the POCSO Act. It also has provisions for protecting disabled children. As organisations and activists who have worked on cases of sexual violence on children with disabilities, we strongly feel that our inputs should be sought while amending the Rules. 

As to why the ministry circulated a draft marked “Confidential” is a mystery. Why only a few select NGOs were privy to the draft deprives logic?

On Children’s Day, we would like to implore upon the WCD Minister to hold wider consultations in the interest of framing better rules.

General Secretary, NPRD

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Given below is the copy of the letter sent to the Minister on November 8, 2019

Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani
Minister for Women & Child Development
Government of India

Dear Irani ji,

We gather from reliable sources that there is a proposal to amend the rules framed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and that a draft has been circulated. However, these are not available in the public domain and major organisations working on children/women’s rights are oblivious of the same. And obviously, unable to contribute.

While we concur, that amendments may need to be made to the rules, for the proper implementation of the POCSO Act, it would be in the fitness of things if a more elaborate and inclusive consultative process is undertaken. This, important aspect, however, is missing in the current exercise.

As organisations working to bring about policy changes to prevent sexual assaults on disabled women and children, we feel that the process of amending legislation and rules that govern them should involve stakeholders as well. Needless to add that this should be a transparent process.

You will appreciate that experience gained by various organisations working among children, especially those dealing with sexual assaults, including organisations working among children & adults with disabilities will only contribute to strengthening the process.

In the interest of framing better rules, also from the perspective of children with disabilities, we implore upon you to have wider consultations rather than restrict it to a small group.

Thanking you
Yours truly

  1. National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled
  2. Paschim Banga Rajya Pratibandhi Sammelini, West Bengal
  3. Tamilnadu Assn for the Rights of Differently-Abled & Caregivers
  4. Vikalangula Hakkula Jatiya Vedika, Andhra Pradesh 
  5. Vikalangula Hakkula Jatiya Vedika, Telangana
  6. Viklang Adhikar Manch, Gujarat,
  7. Haryana Viklang Adhikar Manch, Haryana
  8. Jharkhand Viklang Morcha, Jharkhand
  9. Karnataka Rajya Angavikalara Mattu Palakara Okkota, Karnataka
  10. Differently-Abled Welfare Federation, Kerala
  11. Lakshwadeep Disabled Welfare Association, Lakshwadeep
  12. Madhya Pradesh Viklang Adhikar Manch, MP
  13. Vikalangula Hakkula Jatiya Vedika, Telengana 
  14. Tripura Pratibandhi Adhikar Manch, Tripura
  15. Delhi Viklang Adhikar Manch, Delhi
  16. Shampa Sengupta, Sruti Disability Rights Centre
  17. Vaishnavi Jayakumar, Member, Disability Rights Alliance, TN
  18. Dr. L. Govinda Rao, Hon. President, Manasa Institute of Child Health and Disability Studies, Hyderabad 
  19. Anita Narayan, Ekansh Trust, Pune, Maharashtra
  20. Sanjana Goyal, Indian Association of Muscular Dystrophy, Solan, Himachal Pradesh
  21. Ritika Sahni, Singer -Activist, Founder Trustee, TRINAYANI
  22. Gautam Chaudhury, Disability Development Worker, Kolkata
  23. Smitha Sadasivan, Disability Rights Alliance,Tamilnadu
  24. Mohammed Asif Iqbal, Kolkata
  25. V.S. Sunder, Retired Professor of Mathematics, Chennai
  26. K Kempaiah, Head, Programme and Training,  CBR Forum.
  27. Sangeeta Rege, CEHAT
  28. Pawan Dhall, Varta Trust, Kolkata
  29. Soma Roy Karmakar, RAHI Foundation, Kolkata
  30. Sayantan Dutta, Transgender Rights Activist, Kolkata
  31. Pompi Banerjee, Activist, Kolkata
  32. Dr. K. Muruganandan, Assistant Professor, Thiruvalluvar University, Tamilnadu

Also read: Walayar: Police, Prosecution, And A Weak Case Acquit Child-Rapists

Featured Image Source: NPRD

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