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In 1982, Mr. Sanat Kumar Sinha visited the observation homes in Bihar to do a comparative study of various institutions for children and to find out the possible alternatives that could ensure effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act. He then founded the organization Bal Sakha in 1988 with the view to protect the rights of the children. The project holder is a member of the State Selection Committee for the implementation of Juvenile Justice Act in Bihar and also a member of the State Monitoring Committee on child trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. This resource organization is situated in Patna and has several field offices at the district level. For the last 2 years the organization has initiated community level interventions in 10 selected villahes of Patna, Munger and Bhagalpur districts in Bihar.
Bal Sakha with its vast experience in dealing with legal cases realized that the plight of the children in Bihar is athetic and even worse in the case of children in conflict with law. In 2002, Bal Sakha conducted a state wide study to understand the reality of the juvenile justice system in Bihar and identified the gaps. It was seen that more than 9% of total pending Juvenile Cases, has been pending for more than 10 years. There were instances of juvenile cases ending for as long as 20 to 24 years. In 1367 cases, the children were sent to the remand Homes, 606 cases to prisons and for 234 cases there were no records where the juveniles were sent. 3604 cases were pending for more than 3 years, 2014 cases were pending for a period between 1 - 3 years. 644 cases were pending for a period less than 1 year.
A study reveals that child migration, fake marriages for commercial sex and child trafficking are largely prevailing in the area. Due to poverty, migration for livelihood opportunities is high. This makes children exposed to crime, drugs etc. Children also start working at an early age to support the financial burden of the family. Poor educational facility is another major problem in Bihar. Children work in hazardous conditions in carpet factories and bidi manufacturing factories. These children, not only get less food, but also often need to work for more than 18 hours a day in unhygienic conditions.
- To improve the standard of government institutions meant for juveniles and bring children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law into the mainstream society.
- To advocate with Social Welfare Department for activation of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) and the Juvenile Justice Board (JJB).
- To impart knowledge on child protection issues among the community in the operational area.
- To mobilize the women and youth to monitor and protest against incidences of hazardous child labor, child marriages and child trafficking.
- To create a platform for the children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with law to participate in various cultural activities for improving their skills, knowledge and freedom of expression.
- Sensitization of the judiciary and police system and capacity building of other NGOs on the juvenile justice system.
Review and Impact
Bal Sakha reached out to the community to check the child rights violation in selected 10 villages in Patna, Bhagalpur and Munger district. Based on the study findings, it identified these operational villages as most potential villages of child trafficking, child labor and rampant early marriages. Organization invests in the children of these communities and reparing them for raising voices and acting upon against the child rights violations. In Patna, Bal Sakha has taken up 5 tolas for direct intervention along with Kurthol, Hulluckpur, Etwarpur villages and focused on the engagement with the children. Under community awareness programs, childrens rally for awareness building process was done in 10 villages. Bal Sakha took up the Right to Education (RTE) issue as the core intervention in the village.
They started visiting the private schools and negotiating with the teachers to take admission of poor children in their schools as per the provisions of the RTE Act. Along with the education process, the organization's staff also focused on the birth registration activities of the children and immunization in the ICDS centre. The organization has formed small groups of women, men and youth members called Bal Suraksha Manch. The concept is to make them aware and monitor the issue of child trafficking, child labor, child marriage, birth registrations etc in the villages. Other achievements in the review period include:
- 7 adolescent groups with members in the age group of 10-15 years are working for capacity building programs.
- Organising of .Bal Mela where 97 community people including arents and 160 children participated.
- Creating awareness through child rights on a regular basis across 10 villages.
- Engagement with law enforcement agencies.
- Capacity building inputs on advocacy and the right to survival workshop.
PlansIn this year the organization has plans to focus on the following areas:
- Strengthening the Patna CPC village level awareness program on child rights empowerment.
- Strengthening the local groups and helping them to take action to improve the quality of the institutions.
- Advocacy for promoting standard institutional care in government run homes.
- Meeting, interactions, writing letters on the implementation status of the JJ systems.
- Participation in Crime meeting day in 8 districts.
- Interfacing with the Judicial and State Level Authorities.
- Quarterly meetings on the issues and developing plan of action on the same.