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Background

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 Bal Sakha in 1988 with the view to protect the rights of children. The project holder is a member of the State Selection Committee for the implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act in Bihar and also a member of State Monitoring Committee on child trafficking and sexual exploitation of women. The Resource Organization is situated in Patna. It has several field offices at the district level. From last two years, the organization has initiated community level interventions in 10 villages of Patna, Munger and Bhagalpur districts in Bihar.

Situation

Bal Sakha with its vast experience and expertise in dealing with legal cases realized that the plight of children in Bihar is pathetic and even worse is the case of children in conflict with the law. In 2002, Bal Sakha conducted a state wide study to understand the reality of the juvenile justice system in Bihar and identified a few gaps. It was seen that more than 9% of the total pending Juvenile Cases, have been pending for more than 10 years. There were instances of juvenile cases pending for as long as 20 to 24 years. In 1367 cases, the children were sent to the remand homes, 606 cases to prisons and in the rest of the 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 1 – 3 years. 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 is high. This makes children exposed to various social evils like crime, drugs etc. Children also start working at an early age to support the financial burden of the family. Poor educational facilities is another major problem in Bihar. Children work in hazardous conditions in carpet factories and bidi factories. These children, not only get less food, but often work for more than 18 hours a day under unhygienic conditions.

Objectives

  • To improve the standard of the 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 the Social Welfare Department for activation of Child Welfare Committees (CWC) and 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 instances of hazardous child labor, child marriage and child trafficking.
  • To create a platform for the children in need of care and protection and children in conflict with the 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 NGO’s on the juvenile justice system.

Review


Bal Sakha reached out to the community to check child rights violations in 10 selected villages in Patna, Bhagalpur and Munger district. Based on the study findings, it identified these villages as most potential villages for child trafficking, child labor and rampant early marriages. The organization invests in the children of these communities and preparing the community to act against the child rights violation. In Patna, Bal Sakha has taken up 5 tolas for direct intervention along with Kurthol, Hulluckpur, Etwarpur villages and focused on the engagement with children. Under community awareness programs, children rally for awareness building was organized in 10 villages. During last year, Bal Sakha took up the Right to Education (RTE) issue. 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 birth registration activities and immunization of children in ICDS centers.

Strategically the organization has formed small groups of women, men and youth members called Bal Suraksha Manch. The concept is to sensitize, making them aware and monitor the issue of child trafficking, child labor, child marriage, birth registrations etc in the villages. In last year, BAL SAKHA organized a community level workshop on child protection mechanism where 55 villagers participated. They ensured support of the IIHER for health check ups for the children. Patna CPC units also took up the case of rape victims and approached the police for necessary action. Bal Sakha workers also liaison with the PDS owners, CDPO and Government school teachers for ensuring quality services.


Some highlights for the last year are:
  • Birth registration certificates ensured for 209 children.
  • 147 child workers joined the child protection center.
  • 77 Child workers rescued and linked with the Child Protection Centre (CPC).
  • 120 child workers and 135 drop out children were re-enrolled in school.
  • 1492 children were covered under the immunization program.
  • 12 cases of girl child marriage were stopped.

Plans

  • Direct intervention in the community to check child rights violations and empower the community to own the mechanism in 10 villages of Patna district.
  • Exploring an intervention plan in Bhagalpur district.
  • Focus in 10 districts (Bhagalpur, Munger, Purnea, Gaya, Patna, Chapra, Bhojpur, Muzaffarpur, Betiah and Darbhanga) in three region and creating support systems to make the Juvenile Justice system functional.
  • Strengthening all Juvenile Justice systems in these districts and make them into demonstrable models.
  • Playing the role of a resource organization in the state, including capacity building.
  • Exploring different forums, platforms to raise voices to make this issue a public agenda.
  • Advocacy towards effective implementation of the Juvenile Justice Act in the state.

ANNUAL FINANCIAL SUMMARY

  • Right to Protection
    $23,541
  • Administration
    $4,284
  • Total Grant Approved
    $27,824