Over the last four years my journey to fight child abuse has grown leaps and bounds because of your support. I started with this online petition to the then Union Minister Mrs. Maneka Gandhi, which was a VICTORY, and went on to change how we looked at boys being sexually abused. All because of you.
Post that, I also had several campaigns to highlight child sexual abuse and create awareness on the same with the masses. Today I am glad to announce of yet another campaign called The Hope Run, which is a pan India run to fight Child Abuse of all forms.
India is home to over 19 percent of the world’s children, making it the country with the largest child population in the world ie. more than 250 million children.
ONE IN EVERY TWO CHILDREN IS SEXUALLY ABUSED. OVER 5 MILLION CHILDREN ARE HOMELESS. 10 MILLION CHILDREN ARE ENGAGED IN SOME FORM OF CHILD LABOR.
TODAY, INDIA’S CHILDREN NEED YOU to end this huge disparity and ensure a just and safe world for every child.
Through The HOPE RUN we aim to raise visibility and awareness of the problem of child abuse and also help other NGOs working tirelessly to fight every form of child abuse. We, as responsible citizens of India must come together to ensure that these NGOs are able to continue their work and increase their visibility. Thanks to you, I have been able to do the impossible before, and once again I am reaching out to you all.
Chief Secretary, Telangana Govt issued a G.O today announcing the chairperson and 6 other members. The Commission will function for five years from the date they assume office.
Chairperson is Ms. Vakiti Sunitha Lakshma Reddy was a three time MLA from the same constituency meaning she is well-versed with the system, policy making, decision making.
This is hope. This is what collective efforts bring. It may have been a long journey of 30 months but the future is extremely hopeful for all of us in Telangana, especially 1.5 Crore womxn living here.
Thank you for believing in the cause. Thank you for supporting!
This is too early for us to look into whats next. we will definitely meet the Commission and work together. Request everyone to give the Womens Commission their due spotlight, ask them the right questions, empower them to do more for all of us!
Two Pathbreaking Judgements: Undoing The Dickensian Nightmare
A survey of the functioning of the Family Courts in India will reveal the Dickensian nightmare faced by the children in custody proceedings. The children are mute spectators and at the receiving end of the harsh system of divorce and custody litigations. The voices of these children are never ever heard. According to a recent report, 1.36 million people in India were divorced. Using the law of averages we are looking at a million children crying for their voices to be heard.
The Indian family court system in effect has been ignoring the rights of the child to make an intelligent choice for themselves.The existing status quo has now undergone a revolutionary change in two of the significant recent decisions of the Supreme Court, delivered on the same date. The decisions in Smriti Madan Kansagra v. Perry Kansagra, (2020 SCC OnLine SC 887) delivered by Justice Uday Umesh and Ms. Justice Indu Malhotra JJ (the majority opinion) and Ritika Sharan v. Sujoy Ghosh (2020 SCC Online SC 878) by Dr. Justice D. Y. Chandrachud, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Indira Banerjee JJ. now gives the children the voice and the platform to verbalise their aspirations and wishes.
The anachronistic situation was being faced by the children in India despite express provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act 1890. Section 17 (3) of the Act provides, “If minor is old enough to form an intelligent preference, the Court may consider that preference”.This is in consonance with the various treaties viz. Convention of Rights of Child 1989 (signed and ratified by India) and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 (adopted by India) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 (signed and ratified by India).
The principle of the children being heard was endorsed in 1989 by Article 12 of the said Convention of Rights of Child: –
“1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.”
“2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.”
Ecuador (in 1998), Finland (in 1995) and Poland ( in 1997) incorporated the right of the children to be heard into their Constitutions. Countries like Kazhakstan (2002), South Africa (2005) and Australia (2005) have already incorporated the right to be heard into their legislations.
In Smriti Madan Kansagra v. Perry Kansagra, (2020 SCC OnLine SC 887), the Supreme Court allowed a 11 year old child, Aditya in accordance with his wishes, to move with his father to Nairobi despite having lived all his 11 years of his life in New Delhi with his mother. The court found an personal interaction with the 11 year old. “that he was a bright and articulate child, who was capable of unequivocally expressing his preferences and aspirations”.
In Ritika Sharan v. Sujoy Ghosh in CA No. 3544-45 of 2020. (2020 SCC Online SC 878), similarly, the Supreme Court brushing aside cruelty of the technical objections allowed the 7 year old child Sattik according to his wishes to live and study in a Covid safe Singapore with his mother. The Court found ” During the course of the interaction on the video-conferencing platform,Satsqtik indicated his desire to reside with his mother in Singapore”. The Court declared, understanding the sensitivity of the children, “In matters such as the present, the welfare of the minor child is of paramount concern.The jurisdiction of this Court under Article 142 of the Constitution is a facilitative constitutional instrument to advance substantive justice”
These two decisions of the Supreme Court, is the beginning of a silent and a necessary revolution in favour of the litigation affected children by giving effect to their own wishes and aspirations. In both situations the children’s views as young as 7 and 11 of age have been ascertained with great sensitivity and carefully by the Hon’ble Supreme Court and thereafter passed orders in consonance with their wishes.
Courts below have a track record of often ignoring repeated Supreme Court’s directives and judgments in family matters.
Family Courts, it is hoped, can no longer ignore these two significant decisions. Courts can no longer treat the children as a superfluous adjunct in the legal processes or be dismissive of the children as voiceless objects. It is hoped that the wishes of the children to choose the parent to live with, the institutions, they wish to study in and the city or the country they would like to live in, is given effect to by following the mandate of the Supreme Court. It will be a silent prayer of the million odd children of India, that this decisive revolution ushered in by the two judgments of the Supreme Court is not delivered in vain and their dreams and aspirations are fulfilled.
Views are personal.
(Author is a Senior Advocate at the Supreme Court of India)
I thought I must update you on where things stand with my campaign for the renovation of the morgue and autopsy centre at St. George’s Hospital, Mumbai.
Your support is like a soothing balm and the only other thing (aside from my inner drive) that inspires me to keep at this cause. I wish I had more favourable news but the fact is that dealing with government departments is frustrating. Sometimes I feel like the red tape, the long-winding procedures are deliberately designed to dissuade responsible citizens like us from demanding quality services.
The processes remind me of a jalebi – going round and round in circles. At least jalebis are sweet. Chasing the government to upgrade a morgue facility is not.
So where have we reached?
12th October 2020
The PWD wrote to the (the Maharashtra State Secretariat asking them for permission to begin construction of the morgue building.
15th October 2020
The Secretariat replied saying that permission must be sought from the Finance Department.
Why? Because the government has passed a directive saying no construction work must be done due to COVID. For special cases, permission must be granted by Finance department. This letter from B to A took ages to surface or reach the PWD even though it was responded to immediately. Is there a black hole in which such correspondence gets lost? It took about 10 messages and some 15 phone calls to retrieve it!!
What is amazing and incredible is that making a mortuary is not considered a COVID-19 matter when there have been visuals projected on National TV of dead bodies being kept on the same bed as living patients for want of space in the mortuary!
We, the public, should be full of gratitude that they are ready to make exceptions! So the office of the Executive Engineer from the PWD department then wrote to the Superintendent of St Georges hospital asking him to make that application.
1st December 2020:
The new Superintendent of the hospital has been very proactive and has written to the Executive Engineer Public Construction department Fort Mumbai asking him to write to the Finance Department as it is not binding on them to seek permission as they are the consumer so that the construction of the morgue can begin. He also shared that the hospital has received Rs, 50 lakh for the construction and needs to be utilized before March 21 or it will lapse!
What will help me is if each of you writes to the
1. Director of Medical Education firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Dean JJ hospital email@example.com
urging them both to send off that letter immediately. Your email could have the subject line: “Expedite Morgue Redevelopment” and the body text could say.
Dear Sirs I am a responsible citizen requesting you to expedite the matter of redeveloping the morgue and autopsy centre of St. George’s hospital. I am among 50,000 people who have signed Ms Renu Kapoor’s petition on change.org/mumbaimorgue urging the government to improve the facility. Bureaucratic hassles have slowed down the process for over 2 years. And then COVID-19 delayed matters further. I humbly urge you to write to the Finance Department, Government of Maharashtra to treat the morgue and autopsy centre project as a special case and to waive the ban on constructions during the pandemic.
Looking forward to speedy action.
Regards, ________ (Your name).
Please CC me in your email to the Director of Medical Educationand the Dean of JJ Hospital My email id is firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s another great morning today. The High Court chided the Govt. for running a Women’s Commission without a chairperson for over 2 years and said statutory bodies cannot be functional or operational without a chairperson. If the Govt. fails to appoint one by Dec 31st, the Chief Secretary will have to take the stand at court. This is usually a very embarrassing and a matter of shame for governance. The next hearing is set for January 4th, by when, most likely, we will have a Commission!!
Let’s take a moment to unpack what this means for all of us, shall we?! The High Court’s statement “Statutory bodies cannot be made to function without a head and this is a matter of serious concern”, gives all of us hope. It may have taken Telangana Women’s Commission more than 2 years, but it doesnt have to for various other statutory bodies in other States or at the centre. Let us use this knowledge and information and start filing PILs, write letters to respective Chief Justices raising issues of dysfunctional statutory bodies. Let us use the power we have to do our bit in upholding institutions of democracy!
What most bothers a Decision Maker is social and public pressure. You can get a person responsible for solving a petition to answer the supporters of the campaign. Encourage yourself to take sides for what matters to you. Take a look at these tactics online:
Easy online actions:
Share the petition on your social networks and ask your friends and family to also sign. Viralization is the key to make you listen.
Find the profile of the Decision Maker in social networks. Post on his/her wall and paste the link to the request.
Leave comments with the link of the petition on each photo, publication and tweet of the Decision Maker with the link of the petition and ask for an answer.
Ask your friends to also post on the wall of the Decision Maker.
Try to contact the Decision Maker privately, get his e-mail, talk to him by direct message or try to get his WhatsApp.