[Reader-list] The helpless city

mohd syed lovableyunus at yahoo.co.in
Fri Apr 14 04:34:25 IST 2006

 Each helpline gets different types of calls representing diverse requirments of ‘help’ in a city .They usually  operate in different shifts i.e morning evening and night. Recently I happen to be in the child helpline during the morning shift   and came across  a few  cases . These cases are common but interesting to me because they present certain  pictures of Delhi ,Picures that reflects the helplessness of the city and representing those parts of the city  which are usually ignored or not seen.
   A man brought a seventeen year old girl, he found him on the road roaming helplessly ,when enquired she told that she belongs to jharkhand  and was sent to Delhi   by her parents  to work through a palacement agency . she was  working some where but was not treated humanly  so she left the place to return home but  lost in the way. And then  she came in contact with childline..  
   There was a emergency call from an adoption center about a four year old boys in Kalawati Saran hospital to provide medical care and nursing.  
   Three Street children   came to childline for shelter one of them was a repeater and he brought  the other two. Repeater also mentioned that he has earlier escaped from a shelter home in Kingswaycamp.   
   There was a rescue call  from Zor bagh  about a nine year old  kid  who works in a house and was thrashed by the owner ,the caller wanted  helpline worker to come immediately and save the child. The worker replied that he is referring the case to the concerned organization in the zone.  
   Another  lost child was refered by a concerned citizen from chandnichowk ,he was roaming aimlessly, he was brought to delhi by some elder friend for the sake of ‘ghommne ke liye’.  
   Parents of a  runaway child came to take him back but he was not willing to return, he ran away from his home as was beaten by his parents as he  sold out his school bag to kabadi wala.  
   A fifteen year old girl was sitting near one of the  the ladies staff she was pregnant and was thrown out by her step sister when it was found that she is pregnant.   
   There was a complaint from Police station tilak marg thana that they called  for help during night as they found a girlchild on the road but the worker did not replied 
  Such calls and cases are very common in childline now let us see the key words in these cases once again.
  Placements agencies  Placement agencies are very common in delhi , they provide domestic maid servants to the Delhites who need them. Since domestic work like cleaning and washing  does not need skilled labor it is a low paid job . mostly girls of 12 to  18 years of age are hired for such purpose . Usually girls from jharkhand ,west bengal and bihar are brought to delhi for this purpose.There are many reasons and causes for such a movement, first of all these poverty ridden areas do not have much employment and livelihood opportunities ,the families are large ,hence girls are pushed to Delhi to work..But then a question arises that how can somebody send his/her daughter just like that? Answer lies in the existence of placement agencies and agents. These agents and agencies are run by people who first came to delhi in search of work and then later on established their own service. Agents bring girls from different villages to delhi  promising their parents that they will
 regularly  send  money  earned by their daughters ,usually they are In-Laws of the village and some time different villages ,many a times their better half is also the copartner in the business. the suspician is minimised when almost each family has sent its daughter to work.
  These domestic help placement agencies  keep a record of these girls but they usually show less number of girls , that too of above eighteen years to save them from Law enforcing agencies.they  say that they are registered bodies ,but  as per my knowledge  no such act for registeration of placment agensies exist.
  When these girls are brought to Delhi ,it is usually their  first encounter, they  are not able to commincate easily because of language problem ,they don’t know complicated routes and roads of Delhi , they are placed in different familes of different parts of the city, their remuneration is collected by the agencies , and hence they don’t have money to go  back home . if they are lucky enough to  get a nice employer then there is no problem otherwise there are all kinds of horrible stories, of being beaten up badly ,of being sexually abused ,of being sold to people for flesh trade or being pregnant after  promises of marriage.
  If any  such girl in distress come in contact with helpline ,they try to help her , unfortunately if the girl has  ran away after being abused she is not able to identify the place where she was kept , so then they try to trace her address and contact her family ,either with the help of Police , other network organisations or self  . in few  cases report is also launched against placement agencies but they  are left free with out any charges  when the girl say that she was brought by her own will, send by her family or that the agent is her some uncle, chacha, Mama or brother. And hence the helpline is left with the responsibility of searching her home or any other shelter  where she can be rehabilitated.
  Adoption center  Adoption center is another part of the city to which helpline workers interact with, these are the centers where small children uptill 0 to 7 years of age are kept  as helpline workers don’t have a shelter and facility for them.. many a times small children  are lost or abondaned because of various reasons . if any such child came in touch with childline or police or any organization or hospital they are referred to Adoption centers/agencies.
  The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment , GOI . set up the Central Adoption Resource Agency in 1990 popularly known as CARA. It is a Central Authority in the matter of adoptions,it regulates ,monitors and inspect adoption agencires  and it only works for adoption of destitute and orphan children in Institutions.
  As per a document published by  CARA  there are approximately 69 indian Adoption placement agencies spread over the length and breadth of the country,to carry out inter country adoptions of children. There are 248 foreign agencies  through which inter-country adoptions are done. In 2001 total 1899  in country adoptions were done , and 1298 inter- countery adoptions  were done.
   People who dont have children some time want to adopt other children ,City needs Adoption agencies to take care of orphan ,abondaned and destitutes kids and adoptions agencies needs helplines, voluntary organizations , donations  and ‘kids’ to run their service . yes both kids and donations are back bone of any adoption agencies.Adoption is covered in the Hindu Adoption and Maintenace Act , which   is very strict  means it is not easy to adopt a child in india ,it does not allow people other than Hindu to adopt children in India, also the Donations given by Indian  families are not much , this is probably the reason why inter country adoptions are increasing day by day.
  The system in the city seems ok but there are instances where adoption agencies has deliberately not tried to restore lost children , so that he/she can be adopted by some one in need.
   Though there are few mechanisms to regulate adoptions yet  it does not work all the time.
  Street children/ Escaped  News about children running from government homes is not new for delhites but the reasons of why do they run from such homes?  Usually don’t get space in any newspaper expect whenever it is a sensational story.
  Government shelter homes come under the department of Social Welfare and Juvenile Justice care and protection  Act 2000 (JJ Act).
  JJ act is the social legislation for children from zero to eighteen years of age. This act imposes the state  with the primary responsibility of ensuring that all the needs of children are met and that their basic human rights are fully protected . It define children in two categories,children in need of care and protecion and children in conflict with law.  the former are kept in shelter homes and competent authority for them is Child welfare Committee , where as later are kept in observation homes and the competent authority for them is Juvenile Justice Board.( I will provide detail about these seperately)
  Unfortunately both the places are literally ‘jail’ for children, here they are usually kept half fed ,with no recreation accept TV, they do a lot of work for the staff , are abused by elder and stronger boys. And all limits of corruption are crossed by the staff so  running away seems the best option for them Recently Mr Raj mangal Prasad  Director of an NGO  Association for Development brought out some facts about the ill practices of the Department of social welfare Delhi through Right to Information Act.
  Currently there are 10 shelter homes run by govt in which 1873 children are   staying , govt spend approximately3500 rupees perchild / month, department was not able to provide clear breakup of expenditure, how ever  these figure given by department themselves give us some idea:
  Under wear were purchased @67/piece as compare tomarket rate of 35
  PT shoes @210  market rate 120
  ladies shoes @280 market rate150
  sweater @365 market rate 250 
  More than 70 % of Ambulances donated by CATS to be used as medical van are used by the staff for commuting.
  Most of the children staying in these shelter homes know their complete or partial address but , they have no one to take care of them  as a result they are stucked in as if they are jailed.
  Zone   Zone division is a constantly is a major concern for helplines in Delhi, basically   delhi has been divided in to  various zones by different systems , for instance childline works in Five zones, Delhi police works in Nine Zones .  each zones has a set of issues and problems , but each one has a common problem of Zone overlapping . many atimes helpline worker try to avoid overlapping cases,  by saying that it does not lie in there zone 
  Particulary Police  , in Delhi there are many places where areas of two police stations are divided by a Road, or railway line or just a park  so if  some one go there to lodge an FIR about  a crime  may be as serious as rape. The first question that is asked is ‘ ye ghatna road ke kis taraf  hui’  at this if one manages to give a fairly precise anwer then the next question is ‘aap ko ye ladka/ladki  kahan mile’.. and hence the ‘zone’ excuse is presented before you. 

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