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19 Days of Activism  Against Abuse & Violence on Children 



 1 to 19 November 2012




Background of the 19 Days Campaign:    The 19 Days Campaign on Prevention of Violence and Abuse Against Children and Youth is a Women’s World Summit Foundation (WWSF) initiative launched in 2011 by the Children-Youth section. The 19 Days Campaign is an organized strategy using organizations from diverse cultural and regional backgrounds to fight against at least one of the abuse / violence issues which need to be addressed. These campaign themes are::


* Raising public awareness of the multi-faceted problem of abuse and violence.

* Mobilising agents for change, organizations, institutions and grass-roots faith-based 


* Educating for better prevention measures.

* Strengthening local, national and international initiatives.

* Establishing collaboration with other campaign partners.

* Creating support at the national, regional and international level.

* Linking prevention with the Convention on the rights of the child.

* Lobbying governments to implement UN Study recommendations and in particular “prioritize prevention”   


SWADHINA, established in 1986, is an organisation working for development and rights of children and women. Swadhina has been championing the cause of right to rightful living of children since inception. The various activities of Swadhina involving children include promotion of education, nutrition and awareness building on environment issues. Swadhina is also committed towards the cause of prevention of abuse and violence towards children on issues like corporal punishment, child labour and in disturbed domestic and social situations.


This year Swadhina has decided to be a part of the 19 Days Campaign on prevention of violence and abuse against children to endorse its support to prevention of child-abuse in all forms and to ensure a world that is child-friendly and sensitive towards the need of the children.


Programmes 2012:  Swadhina decided to approach the issue of violence on children and child rights through two methods – one, to raise awareness at different levels of the society on the graveness of the issue, inviting the participation of every person of the society to eradicate all the existing forms of violence and abuse and two, to directly involve the children as a means of helping them to understand their rights and celebrate their childhood beyond every barrier. As a part of this approach different programmes were organised.






Date: 18th of November 2012


A seminar on child rights and abuse on children was organised at Kolkata on 18th of November 2012. The seminar focused on five different issues surrounding the theme of child rights and abuse on children – corporal punishment, heavy school bags, mental harassment, unequal rights to education, child trafficking and related exploitation.  A case study was presented on each of the issue and a response was evoked on the basis of the issue raised.




Responding on the issue of corporal punishment, Ms.Srichandra from Swadhina said that corporal punishment is a much practiced reality in Indian schools and even at home. We are still able to practice corporal punishment because children cannot protest ; whenever we punish theml achievement of having disciplined them. More often than not corporal punishment pushes a child into a cocoon of fear and guilt and many a times this leads them to even commit suicide.


Economist and Chartered Accountant Mr.Gautam Majumdar responded to the issue of Right to Education by saying that unless the uneven economic situation is rectified we cannot guarantee justice to the children. He pointed out to the fact that though Right to Education Act has guaranteed equal rights  to the children to be enrolled in the same schools but the private schools have recently appealed to the court and got a verdict in their favour that the private schools need not follow the ruling of guaranteeing 25% of its seats to the impoverished students, which means that the step toward justice has already been hampered.


Mr.Tridib Reeves, social worker, expressed astonishment at the fact that while thinking about economic parity we always say that benefits should trickle down from higher level to the grass-root level and not the other way round and this is the same attitude we retain when it comes to education of children.  While speaking about the issue of heavy school bags Dr.Amaresh Haldar said that over the years the burden of books on young children is increasing day by day and this has very bad repercussions on a child’s physical health. He explained that prolonged years of carrying heavy burden causes stress on the spinal cord of the children and can cause severe damages.




Reacting to the issue of mental and psychological harassment Ms.Sikha Mitra, former principal of Calcutta Girls School said that it is a reality that mental harassment of children does take place regularly – at school and at home. While teachers do not spare the children in criticizing them the parents too have high expectations from the children and often exert undue stress on them.


Psychologist Ms. Sheela Basak said that it is not right to have the expectation of same level of performance from all the children and hence exert stress on them. It is important to have counselors at the schools to asses the IQ level of the child and cater to their needs based on their level of requirement. She said that continued negative feedback from parents would lead the children to suffer from low self-esteem and destroy their self-confidence.




Speaking on the issue of child-trafficking, Mr.Diptendu Mukherjee from Swadhina said that the larger issue is violation of child-rights and abuse of children but here too there is a distinction between the haves and have-nots. While one group of student do go to school and face problems as a part of their regular interaction with school  there is yet another group who do not even have the basic privileges of food, clothing and shelter and are forced into child-trafficking to be employed as child labourers or sold off in the human trafficking market. It is a question of not having the basic requirements and is a question of basic human rights.


Each of the presentation was interspersed with a cultural presentation by street children who stay in short-stay home. Their delightful dance, songs and recitation mesmerized everyone present. Their actions seemed to speak loudly in favour of an equal and balanced social system where children like them would get equal opportunity.





Date: 11th of November 2012


It was a Sunday morning. The Little Angel School in Ghatsila wore a festive look. It was barely 8’O Clock in the morning and children of various sizes and from different backgrounds had already assembled at the venue. The registration of their names had to begin earlier than planned because of their growing eagerness. Each had come armed with pencils, colour boxes and loads of enthusiasm. As the Art Contest began at around 9’O Clock each of the children set down to express their ideas on the theme of “Child Labour”. But prior to the contest the children were told in brief about the menace of Child Labour as a form of abuse on children of their age. The children listened intently to the issue which they have often witnessed around themselves.




As time progresses the thoughts of these young minds flowed out in the form of a myriad of colours. Each of them expressed concern over the fact that children of their age, of their group were oppressed as child labours and were not being given equal opportunity.At the end of the programme the participants were given gifts.




In the post lunch hour a discussion session was organised for the parents, teachers and social thinkers. The discussion revolved around the different forms of oppression faced by the children of our society.


Speaking on this occasion, Mr.Amit Sen, who runs a school in the region, spoke very strongly against corporal punishment. He said that the “culture of violence against children” has been continuing for ages now. As if it has become a norm that corporal punishment is a way to discipline children. He requested all the teaching community to be sensitive towards children and stop the practice of corporal punishment with immediate effect.




Varsha Pandey who is a school principal said that we should focus on value-based education system. Our education system requires a teacher to have a certain degree in education but that is not enough a criteria to teach children. A teacher requires patience to handle children and this cannot be acquired by educational qualification alone. While selecting teachers, the focus should be on teachers who are able to understand the needs of children. She also asserted that parents need to be sensitive too. Putting unnecessary stress on the children, comparing them with other children are ways by which the parents inflict abuse on the children. 


Senior journalist of Hindustan Times, Dr.Prabal Sanatani,  spoke on the issue of child trafficking. He said that child trafficking is a big and growing problem in India today. Children are trafficked within and to countries abroad in the name of marriage or adoption. Most of the children end up in prostitution racket or are made to do menial work. A large number of children are sent across to middle-eastern countries every year and then they are either sold off to harems or are used for organ harvesting where their organs are sold off. He also pointed out to the fact that in areas reeling under armed conflicts these children are taken in by the militant groups and are trained to become militants.


Ms.Chaitali Nath, a student, highlighted on the fact that the Right to Education Act which gurantees equal education rights to children is still not being implemented at the ground-level because there are a lot of practical and infrastructural problems.


Ms. Supriti Murmu, a social activist,  said that the children living in the areas of armed conflict often do not get equal privileges as other children. The schools in the region which are under terrorist conflict remain closed for most part of the year, leaving the children in perpetually uncertain future. Moreover, being under a situation of constant fear and violence the children are always psychologically traumatized. The discussions could bring forward the focal issues around violence and abuse of children.



Date: 17th of November 2012


The rural belt of East Singbhum is perpetually under threat of terrorist conflict, coupled with extreme poverty and this gives very little opportunity to the children to experience the joys of childhood. To make the children understand their rights to a joyful life and enjoy their childhood a children’s fest was organised at Geruala village in East Singbhum region of Jharkhand. This fest was organised on 17th of November 2012.




The entire place looked like a village-fair. Little tribal children, accompanied by their parents were there in the venue much before the programme began. Volunteers had a tough time handling their enthusiasm to experience something different in their life-time.

The programme began with a candlelight rally of the children in accompaniment to a song by Rabindranath Tagore – Aguner Poroshmoni Choao Praney (“ Let the warmth of light touch my soul”).




This was followed by a sit-n-draw contest for the children. 53 little tribal children tried their hands at lending colour to their dreams – from flowers to Indian flag to tribal motifs – their imagination ran wild. This was followed by a game using alphabet cards. 40 children enthusiastically took part in this game to show that education is their birth-right. An interesting game of throwing the ball in the bucket was also organised for the children to take part. 37 children came forward to take part in this game.


Then it was time for some cultural programme. 20 children took part in this programme comprising of song and recitation. As the children participated their parents cheered along.

It was time for some awareness building and Ms.Rupali Mahato, Mr.Laduram Mahato and Mr. Kasem Ansari spoke on the necessity to ensure that children get to enjoy their rights towards food, education and health because they are the ones who hold key to our future.

The programme concluded with prize distribution to the children.



Date: 18th of November 2012

Similar to the Children’s fest in Geruala, a children’s fest was organised at Bonkuchia- yet another village of East Singbhum in Jharkhand. Attended by 85 children and their parents, this fest too witnessed enthusiastic participation of children. A break from their usual struggle with grim realities of life – poverty, conflict and lack of proper amenities, this occasion gave them an opportunity and occasion to celebrate life. Different contests were organised for them. While 48 children participated in the sit-n-draw contest, 40 children took part in the alphabet game . Each of the children took immense pleasure in taking part in the programme. Taking this as an opportunity Mr,Manoranjan Bairagi and Mr. Kasem Ansari spoke on the need to provide a peaceful atmosphere for the children to bloom. They urged the parents to ensure that amidst all the trials and tribulations the children do get their education. At the end of the programme the children lit candles and sang a song in remembrance of children who have been victims of violence.



Date: 19th of November 2012


Similar to the situation in Jharkhand, Purulia in West Bengal too faces regular conflicts and turmoil and the children of the area are witness to different forms of violence and violation. A children’s fest was organised to bring out the joys of growing up among the children. The main attraction of the day was a sit-n-draw contest. 35 children expressed their feelings through colourful pictures.


Following this Ms.Nirupama Mahato, Mr.Krittibas Mahato and Mr.Manoranjan Bairagi spoke to the parents present about the situation of children. Children are our future and their rights need to be protected because it is their hands that our country’s future rests – this was the core message of their speech.


This was followed by the prize distribution ceremony. The children clapped and cheered while they received token gifts for their performance.All the participants received a packet of biscuit each and they rushed back home – happy and smiling after a day well spent.






In order build awareness among all sections of the society regarding abuse and violence against children a series of awareness materials were published and sent across. A booklet in English entitled : “ I am not well “ has been published. This booklet brings forward different aspects related to abuse of child-rights and violence against them. The booklet explores the issues through case studies, dissection of the problem and suggests possible steps to address these problems. 300 copies of these booklets have been published and sent to various schools, social organizations and individuals who are fighting for the cause of children.


A translation of the booklet in local language, Bengali, was also brought out to reach the issues to the grass-root level. 100 copies of the booklet were published and distributed. Apart from this posters and fliers on the issue and the 19 Days Campaign were sent to near about 200 friends and well-wishers to sensitize the public on this issue. Information and poster was also made available on the Facebook page of Swadhina – to be viewed by all.




Swadhina has planned to carry forward this campaign as a long term strategy. For the next one year Swadhina has planned to carry on a campaign at various school levels around the issues of heavy school bags, corporal punishment, mental harassment and providing equal opportunities of education to children from all strata of the society.  A campaign is also planned to be carried on around the issues of child labour and child trafficking at different levels of the society. Other than sending out awareness kits, organizing interactive meets, organizing on-line campaigns Swadhina is also planning to undertake different  concrete welfare activities like organizing supportive education centres, health check-up camps, children’s awareness festivals for children belonging to the conflict regions. These are to be organised over the next one year. Any support in the form of funds, volunteership and encouragement is always welcome.


The aim is simple : together we MUST protect our children and help them grow up gracefully – with dignity !



Amidst violence, conflict and disturbance it is only the eyes of children which can still discover beautiful things
– birds, flowers, fish…..

A collection of drawings of children who live amidst extreme poverty, regular terrorist disturbances and uncertain future.



My beautiful village By SULOCHANA SOREN The little fish in our village pond By RAKESH MAHATO   




Young students express their feelings and solidarity for children who are into child-labour….speaking out for their friends.



      While you eat,I sell            My hard-work, your pleasure

       By RUPU MAITY                   By PUSPALATA MURMU


 Where is my independence?                                           School is not for me

  By SAKSHI PANDEY                                                 By SURAJ CHAKRABORTY


Swadhina, 34/C Bondel Road, Kolkata (Calcutta) 700019, West Bengal, INDIA
Tel: (+ 91 33) 32451730 / 22870934
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