Published: 13th January 2022
Why is India's apex child rights body asking for the suspension of Delhi govt's Desh Ka Mentor programme?
Bollywood actor Sonu Sood is the brand ambassador for Desh Ka Mentor programme, which was launched by the Government of Delhi in October
Citing loopholes such as children being exposed to unknown people and the scope for crime and abuse, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has asked for the suspension of Government of Delhi's Desh Ka Mentor programme. It suggested that until the loopholes are looked into properly, the programme should be suspended.
The aim of Desh Ka Mentor is to offer career guidance to school-going children and NCPCR claimed that it might expose children to dangers. This was expressed by the apex child rights body via a letter addressed to the chief secretary of Delhi. NCPCR wrote the letter last month and again, earlier this week, to state that the response they have received has been “ineffectual”, as per a report by PTI.
“It has been stated in the response that to protect against violation, mentees are assigned mentors who are from the same gender, it is imperative to place here that abuse or assault or sexual or otherwise, is not gender biased but same gender does not necessarily assure the safety of any child in any terms,” noted the letter that NCCPR addressed to Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev on January 10.
As per NCPCR, those personnel who are involved with the scheme are not gender sensitised and also seem to be lacking in knowledge when it comes to the nuances of child sexual abuse. The commission also said that they are not aware of the laws that concern children like POCSO Act, 2012 and JJ Act, 2015.
It also stated that the letter received doesn't answer the question regarding police verification and hence, it seems that there is no police verification of the mentees that will take place.
“It has been mentioned in the response that ‘registration process includes psychometric tests of the mentees before they are accepted into the program’. Is this Psychometric Test analyzed/checked/scrutinized by professional practising experts? Can this Psychometric Test identify Pedophiles or potential Pedophiles?” the NCPCR asked, as per PTI.
NCPCR also went on to state that the response mentioned that mentor and the mentee will interact via phone calls and added that, “It may be noted that child-related crime can be initiated through phone calls as well. For instance, children are susceptible to probable child trafficking through phone calls. Is there any mechanism to prevent the origin of cybercrimes and child trafficking? The response also presents that parents of the mentees enrolled fill their consent forms to allow their child to join the program. The consent of parents is indeed an essential prerequisite for involving children in such activities.”
The commission pointed out that the consent of parents cannot be used as a cushion in case of any unforeseen incident and added that this doesn't, in any way, help with the prevention of violent abuse against children and the accountability of preventing such situation still lies with the department. Within seven days, it has asked for a compliance report with supporting documents.