Irresponsible reportage


Dear Sir,

Apropos the Hueiyen Lanpao English edition of Tuesday, January 25, 2011, the front page photo with the caption ‘Minor girl roped in as a bill defaulter by the electricity department’ is a statement which itself is self contradictory. How can a minor be held responsible for having done something illegal? Short of stirring up a hornet’s nest, I find it juvenile and immature on the part of the perpetrators (what else would you call them?)

The intention of the Electricity Department had a lot of support from the public initially because many of dutiful citizens of the state have been suffering from the free-riders. But, in their haste of just ‘½ a second of fame’, all the good will of the department has gone down the drain. The goodwill drive has turned into a cheap publicity gimmick. How could such a life threatening blunder be committed? This is blatant disregard for the dignity of that particular child. What was the great idea of covering the eyes of the child while her name was clearly seen on the paper, rather made to be seen? Was it gratifying enough for the very fact that she was the nearest innocent lamb needed at the altar? What were they trying to prove? What rights were vested upon them to arrest and publicly parade the child?

It is important that every citizen of the civilized society is not aware of the basic rights of children in general and the girl child in particular. In this connection I would like to draw the attention of the following info. as laid down by the United Nations. Well, considering the frequent reference to the Geneva Convention for any unwanted incident committed by the security, it is of utmost importance that parents and guardians in the state keep themselves of the following.

The article 52/106 of ‘ The girl child’ of the United Nations General Assembly and its resolutions 50/42 of 8 December 1995, 50/154 of 21 December 1995, 50/203 of 22 December 1995 and 51/76 of 12 December 1996, the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Report of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing, 4-15 September 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.13), chap. I, resolution 1, annexes I and II. the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development and the Programme of Action of the World Summit for Social Development, Report of the World Summit for Social Development, Copenhagen, 6-12 March 1995 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.96.IV.8), chap. I, resolution 1, annexes I and II. the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development, Report of the International Conference on Population and Development, Cairo, 5-13 September 1994 (United Nations publication, Sales No. E.95.XIII.18), chap. I, resolution 1, annex. the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference on Human Rights, held at Vienna from 14 to 25 June 1993, A/CONF.157/24 (Part I), chap. III. the Plan of Action for Implementing the World Declaration on the Survival, Protection and Development of Children in the 1990s of the World ,the Summit for Children, held in New York on 29 and 30 September 1990, A/45/625, annex. the World Declaration on Education for All and the Framework for Action to Meet Basic Learning Needs adopted at the World Conference on Education for All Final Report of the World Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs, Jomtien, Thailand, 5-9 March 1990, Inter-Agency Commission (UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, World Bank) for the World Conference on Education for All, New York, 1990, appendices I and II and the Declaration and Agenda for Action of the World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, held at Stockholm from 27 to 31 August 1996, A/51/385, annex. states their deep concern that girls, in particular adolescent girls, continue to be silent and invisible victims of violence, abuse and exploitation and that some legal systems do not adequately address the vulnerability of girls in the administration of justice, including the need for better protection of child victims and witnesses. It also stresses that discrimination and neglect of the girl child can initiate a lifelong downward spiral of deprivation and exclusion from the social mainstream.

The preamble to the Charter of the United Nations, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Resolution 34/180, annexes. and the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Resolution 44/25, annex. also –

“1. Stresses the need for full and urgent implementation of the rights of the girl child as guaranteed to her under all human rights instruments, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

2. Urges all States to take all necessary measures and to institute legal reforms to ensure the full and equal enjoyment by the girl child of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and to take effective action against violations of those rights and freedoms;”
It also calls upon all States and international and non-governmental organizations, individually and collectively:
“(a) To set goals and to develop and implement gender-sensitive strategies to address the rights and needs of children, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, to take into account the rights and particular needs of the girl child, especially in education, health and nutrition, and to eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against the girl child;”
The Working Group on Development of Children for the Eleventh Five Year Plan(2007-012) has clearly mentioned on its –“A Report / Chapter Four – the objectives of the 11th Plan – The Path Ahead” that- “The 11th Plan should be to holistically empower the girl child in all aspects so that she can become an equal partner with boys on the road to development and progress. This requires addressing the various constraints /persisting problems facing the girl child. Towards this end, the strategy and action laid out in the National Plan of Action for Children, 2005 will be given priority and attention with focus on her survival, protection and wellbeing. Special importance will be accorded to ensuring all girl children the right to life and liberty, and to upholding their dignity and security in family and society, with utmost attention to their right to equality and social justice.”
In this context it is true that the layman is not aware of all the basic rights that a human being has been endowed with by God or by the law of the civilized society.

Let us not take things at face value when such blunders are committed. Has the authority ever spent a moment in contemplation for such a blatant act of degradation of the child’s dignity? Would the guilt be easily washed away had the child taken up any step for being unable to bear the sheer humiliation?

But the question in my mind is – would those three stooges have the guts to pose for a ‘1/2 second of fame’ with the daughter of a ‘sahib’, many of whom are defaulters? Let us not think of the action taken up against the defaulters. Let us think of preventing any act of violation of a child’s rights in the state. Are the children not our future? Do we not nurture and nature them to be good builders of the future? Let us not allow them to grow up with bitterness in their hearts and minds to eventually mould a perverse society.

Yours faithfuly,
Ratna Mutum,


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