With the rampant crime rate in the country questioning and challenging the protection of rights of women and children time and again, the National conference conducted on the 24th of April by ITM University, Gurgaon on the ‘Protection and Enforcement of Rights of Women and Children’ was immensely appreciated. Esteemed dignitaries who have devoted their careers towards working for the above cause, including Dr. David Ambrose who is the dean of the Department of Legal Studies of the University of Madras, Ms. Saumya Gupta, IAS, Director (Women and Child Development), Dr. Sanoj Rajan, Director of School of Law, ITM University and Dr. Prem Vrat, Pro-Chancellor, ITM University inaugurated the conference.
“Women’s issues and child issues are not separable but are inextricably intertwined”, said Ms. Saumya Gupta (IAS), Director, Department of Women and Child Development. She quoted various experiences of her career to explain the mentality of juveniles pushed into delinquency and how women and their families have an important role in it. “Women are not Goddesses, but we aspire to be human beings”, she said.
Professor Dr. David Ambrose who was the keynote speaker talked about various rudimentary aspects that affect women and children in every society. “In a country like India which is known for its religious ethos, the kind of crimes committed these days shocks human conscience”, he said. For creating a world of peace, equality, tolerance, security and freedom, special care and attention is required to be provided to the women and children. “Juvenile who are involved in petty crimes are to be treated as victims rather than persons conflicting with the law”, he concluded.
It was a day long conference which consisted of an expert session and three sessions of deliberations on the topic by students and other legal experts. The expert session was graced by the presence of Mr. Amod Kanth, General Secretary of Prayas Institute of Juvenile Justice, Former DGP and Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Mr. Ian-Anand Forber Pratt, Board Member of International Foster Care organization, Ms. Vaidehi Subramaniam, Chairperson of Child Welfare Committee, Delhi and Ms. Rakshanda Niyazi, Senior Associate, Vaish Associates.
Mr. Kanth begun the session by talking about the plight of juveniles and juvenile delinquents in the complex constitutional system of India. He said that the needs of children are synonymous to their rights. This was followed by an enthusiastic speech by Mr. Pratt who discussed in detail about the United Nations Declaration on Rights of a Child and his personal experiences of being an adopted child himself. He also deliberated on the importance of a family system to prevent juvenile delinquency at the very core. Ms. Vaidehi Subramaniam spoke on all the rudimentary and significant issues that are faced by women and children including aggravated sexual offences, problems regarding child labour domestic operation and domestic maids, child marriage , adoption and foster care etc. The session was finally concluded with Mr. Niyazi’s very detailed and enlightening discussion on sexual harassment of women at workplace.
Women and children still remain vulnerable to abuse and are less likely to protect themselves from discrimination, humiliation, torture and exploitation due to adverse socio-cultural milieu. Their rights still stand as mere words of statute. Gender justice or gender equality is essential since women constitute half of the world population, but ironically even in this era of rights we are still combating with evils like female feticide and female genital mutilation. Female sexuality itself has been a victim of many myths, stigmas and stereotypes even in the twenty first century, in spite of its claims as the century of knowledge and development. Likewise, children suffer from various forms of exploitation like child abuse; child labor, pornography and a substantial portion of them are deprived of their rights to survival, health, nutrition, education and even safe drinking water.
This conference provided an inspiring platform to the legal fraternity to analyze the various legal provisions, national and international, for the development and advancement of the situation of women and children. In such issues where the atrocities are linked to culture and beliefs of the society, the only way to break through it is to sensitize the people about it. Thus School of Law of ITM University, Gurgaon had successfully played a small yet very impressive role in doing the same.