The Ministry of Women and Child Development (“Ministry”) had, in November 2018, rolled out the ‘National Minimum Guidelines for setting up and running Crèche/s under the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 (“Guidelines”) wherein a Child Protection Policy had been attached as Annexure II of the Guidelines which mention the proactive measures Organizations must undertake to prevent child abuse in any form at workplace and within its operating hours.
In line with the same, the Ministry has recently uploaded the Draft of National Child Protection Policy (“Draft Policy”) on its official website, inviting comments and suggestions on the same from the Stakeholders on the email id email@example.com within 4th February, 2019.
Background and Purpose
All children deserve a happy childhood and the opportunity to lead a dignified life safe from violence, exploitation, neglect, deprivation and discrimination. Protection of the youth is not only a matter of their human rights but also an investment towards building a robust nation. The Constitution of India recognizes children as equal right holders and grants highest priority for their protection and well-being. India is also signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and accordingly has a strong legal framework to protect children which include the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2015; the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012; Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act 1994; the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005; the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006; and Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016.
The Draft Policy draws upon the safeguards provided under the Constitution of India, various child-centric legislation, international treaties as well as other existing policies for the protection and well-being of children. It aims at providing a safe and conducive environment for all children through the prevention and response to child abuse, exploitation and neglect. It provides a framework for all institutions, and organizations to understand their responsibilities in relation to safeguarding/ protecting children and promoting the welfare of children; individually and collectively.
Guidelines for Organization, Institutions and Establishments under the Draft Policy
I) All institutions and organizations should develop a child protection policy and code of conduct for employees in line with the national guidelines and various legislations for protection and welfare of children and display it appropriately.
II) All employees/ contractual workers must sign the declaration for child protection and agree to abide by it (draft declaration given in Annexure 1)**.
III) The code of conduct for employees/contractual workers must state that they should always treat children with empathy and respect, regardless of race, color, gender, sexuality, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. It must specifically lay down that the staff must never use language or behavior towards children that is inappropriate, harassing, abusive, sexually provocative, demeaning or culturally inappropriate, develop or induce or support in any way physical/sexual relationships with children.
IV) All organizations and institutions should designate responsibility on specific member/members of staff for ensuring that procedures and arrangements are in place within the organization to protect children and report any abuse, exploitation or neglect; in line with the guidelines and existing laws. The contact details of designated officer for child protection must be displayed appropriately.
V) Organizations/institutions must ensure that every individual who abuses or exploits children or violates any section of the Draft policy should be appropriately punished as per law (Refer to Annexure 2)**.
VI) Corporate houses and industries must establish and strengthen monitoring mechanisms to ensure that industries/subsidiaries are not using child labour in any form.
VII) Institutions and organizations working directly with children must ensure stringent background check (including police verification) of all employees – regular or contractual; volunteers and others who may come in contact with children.
VIII) Medical establishments (hospital and clinics),doctors and health workers cannot refuse treatment or discriminate on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, disability, caste, religion, tribe, language, marital status, occupation, political belief, or other status. Refusal of medical care to survivors/victims of sexual violence and acid attack amounts to an offence under Section 166B of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 357C of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
IX) Institutions and organizations working directly with children must develop age-appropriate modules and materials for orientating children on child abuse, online safety and services available for them.
X) Institutions/Organizations must ensure the availability of Crèches/ mobile crèches for employee’s children including those on daily wages/contractual basis if the number of employees is fifty or above; otherwise appropriate space and facility for baby care has to be provided for mothers with infants.