A consolidated report on the situation of vulnerable and excluded children from India comprising 28 states and four union territories was presented at the National Conference on ‘Plan For Every Child’ for Children in Difficult Circumstances. Representatives from the Ministry of Women and Child Development, various state agencies, UN bodies and Civil Society Organisations participated in the discussion.
Child labour and trafficking have emerged as the key problems faced by the majority of vulnerable children across India in the state and regional consultations. Street and working children are also a key concern reported by 80% states (26 states out of 32). 75% (24 states out of 32) reported missing and trafficked children as a third major concern. 19 states across 3 regions (North, South and West regions) reported the issue of child marriage as a major concern. All states in East and Northeast India reported on issues of Children Affected by AIDS while all Northeastern states reported the issue of Substance abuse.
The findings are the result of consultations held over three months with over 2,000 civil society organisations including government departments working with children living in difficult circumstances. The consultations were conducted in 28 states and four Union Territories with participation of 1,500 representatives and five regional consultations with participation of 500 representatives from national and regional NGOs, the UN agencies, government institutions, national and global networks and coalitions, corporates, media, academicians, legal professionals, children, youth and communities.
Children in Difficult Circumstances are those living on the streets and working, those affected by HIV/AIDS, victims of commercial sexual exploitation and trafficking, children of female sex workers and child labourers. Plan India through its innovative programmes would ensure that all related endeavors promote access to rights, equity and justice as enshrined in the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child, Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the Government of India’s National Plan of Action for children 2016 which is committed to “putting the last child first”.
Speaking on the occasion, Bhagyashri Dengle, Executive Director, Plan India said, “Millions of children continue to be denied their basic rights and entitlements such as food, shelter, education, medical care, protection and security because of their circumstances. The ‘Plan for Every Child’ initiative will provide unique opportunity to child rights organisations, development practitioners, researchers and policy makers to address the numerous problems faced by children and reinforce commitments through practices, programmes, policies and investment.”