Children constitute the backbone of a nation and the Govt. of India has strongly adhered to ensure their Rights under the Constitution of the country. The Govt. of India has also ratified the UNCRC and the Sustainable Development Goals to ensure fundamental Rights and Entitlements for all children in the country. Over 70 years of Independence, a substantial number of children are neglected and deprived of their Basic Rights. Several initiatives from the National and State Governments have created opportunities for the children towards ensuring their Survival, Protection, Development, and Participation. But even after all these provisions almost 45% children in the country are malnourished, around 30% children are still out of school and over 20,000 children are victims of child marriage, trafficking, abuse & exploitations.
SWS works in the remote islands of Sunderbans where children are deprived of their Basic Rights and are vulnerable to all forms of abuse & exploitations. The vulnerabilities of children and adolescence are multi-dimensional. The scarcity of basic facilities of health, nutrition, and education put children into difficult circumstances causing threat for their survival and protection at home and neighborhood.
In combating the vulnerabilities of the children, SWS has been working closely with the communities and Govt. schools for sensitization on Child Rights issues. The organization is also creating pathways for the children to access Anganwadis and Govt. schools to ensure their age-appropriate learning and development. Parents and larger communities are involved for school level tracking and ensuring the continuation of studies for the children.
Apart from ensuring school education the organization also emphasizes on prevention of children from child labor, child marriage, and child trafficking through the involvement of the Child Protection Committees and local administration. As the islands are closely connected with Bangladesh border thus there are lots of infiltrations happen where children become the victim of such circumstances.
Some of the major initiatives of the organization include:
•‘Sankalpa’ is a sensitization programme on child marriage and child trafficking implemented by the Government of West Bengal. SWS has been involved as one of the lead agencies for school level sensitization on issues of child rights, child marriage, child trafficking and Right to Education in Hingalganj Block. The organization has been able to reach out to more than 12,000 children through this initiative and subsequently been appreciated by District Administration.
•‘Swayangsiddha’ - West Bengal Police has come up with a project, Swayangsiddha, to combat human trafficking and prevent child marriage. ‘Swayangsiddha’ means ‘self-reliant’. The project envisions empowering young girls, and boys, with knowledge and skills so that they are aware, alert, able to make informed choices and are less vulnerable to violation and abuse of their rights. Swayangsiddha Groups have been formed in schools and colleges with interested students. These groups were formed with students between the ages of 12 and 21 years. The State Government’s Child Protection Committees are monitoring and guiding these groups.
SWS has been entrusted from Basirhat District Police to conduct school level sensitization events on the above-mentioned aspects. As of now, the organizations have been able to cover up four blocks – Haroa, Hasnabad, Hingalganj and Swarupnagar with a coverage of over 20,000 school students.
•Children Parliament: The purpose of setting up this children parliament was to encourage students from the schools to keep track of their peer groups and report back to SWS for required support. This system has been established as a pilot in three schools and it has worked in a positive manner, thus the organization intends to expand the similar model in other schools of the above mentioned geographic locations. This would be taken forward together with the Police, School Administration, Child Protection Committees and the Panchayats. Towards a sustainable community-based children led model of protection.
•Strengthening Child Protection Committees (CPC): This is a statutory structure under the Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) for setting up a mechanism to provide protection services to the children. SWS has been coordinating with District Child Protection Societies for necessary capacity building of the CPC members and formalizes their operations at the grassroots level.