The Childline 1098 is a telephonic service by the Indian Government and works for the protection and growth of children. Anyone can call on this number to report, including children who are in trouble themselves. Cases handled here include those relating to child labour, forced begging, children who are victims of child marriage, children who might be forced into getting married in the future, kidnapped children, children who are lost, victims of child sexual abuse, and more.
In Bangalore, The Child Rights Trust works with nodal and collaborative organisations. “When we come to know about children in trouble, nodal officers and the child helpline attend to the case. We receive most calls reporting child labour, children begging and child marriage cases. There was once a case of a young girl studying in class VIII who had escaped from her house. When we spoke to her, she told us that she wanted to study but her mom had taken a loan, couldn’t repay it, and was getting her married off to a 50-year-old man. They had even tied the turmeric thread around her neck to signify her marriage. This girl had removed the thread and run away. She had reached the home of relatives and with their help had reached out to the child helpline and a TV channel.” This case was registered and protection was provided to her through the Child Welfare Committee. Today, she is at her relatives’ house and studying for her PU class. “In most houses, children are not treated as important individuals. They are taught not to talk in front of their elders and they must just listen. At the pretext of helping children, a lot of people indulge in illegal activities. They take children in as domestic workers so that they can be paid less. Many parents get their daughters married off very early so that their ‘financial burden’ will be reduced. The most unscrupulous ones kidnap kids and push them into sex work.”
There are many laws with regards to the protection of children but these laws are not implemented well. The Childline never reveals the names of the persons calling to lodge complaints. “If parents call and complain that their child is facing trouble through someone, we go with them to the police station to register a case. When someone calls us, we cross-check the details depending on the address provided and so far, we have received all genuine complaints.”
Depending on the mental condition of the rescued child, the Childline will help and guide the child with necessary requirements like education, stay, medical assistance and more. “The frequency of complaints is coming down when compared to earlier – awareness is rising and helping protect the children. Our children have rights and we must never forget them.”
If anyone notices a child between the ages of 0 to 18 in trouble, then please call the Childline at 1098.
Listen in for more…