on the details of
DIKSHA’s effort are generally aimed at creating change in externalized factors that adversely affect varying segments of civil society in different ways, resulting in a number of organizations providing a wide range of services. The uniqueness of DIKSHA, both programmatically and methodologically, lies in its stress on creating change from within and involvement of adolescent groups through development of CBRT (Community Based Resource Team). Ms. Paramita Banerjee, the founder-coordinator of DIKSHA, has been actively involved in development activities since the early 1980s. Her innovative ideas about shifting from service delivery to evolve a holistic rights and participation based approach for adolescent development won her a Macarthur Fellowship for Leadership Development in 1999. DIKSHA is the culmination of her activities with adolescents living in red light areas. Paramita was also selected as regional coordinator of ECPAT (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking) in 2005. Diksha has evolved its own methodology of experiential approach that specializes in offering a safe space to adolescents to make individual development possible.
The operational areas of Diksha are red light areas in and around the city of Kolkata. Within the city the operational areas are Kalighat and Khidirpur. The third operational area they have ventuerd is in Suri in Birbhum district. This was taken up as an outcome of a consultative process with CCRP. Kalighat is situated in the southern part of Kolkata. It is famous for the historic temple which draws thousands of pilgrims every day. Adjacent to the Kalighat temple is the red light area where around 500 families live. The red light area is comprised of several by-lanes commonly known as Bada galli, Chota galli, Tabla galli etc. Khidirpur on the other hand is situated in the eastern part of the city and is adjacent to the Calcutta Port. The red light area of Khidirpur is only a few kilometers away from Kalighat. The Khiderpur red light area has porous boundries and women and children from marginalized families are becoming victims of sexual exploitation. The status of child rights in the operational area are as follows:
- Basic status of a child and her mother (health, education, prevalence of abuse, domestic violence, scope of child’s participation in family matters affecting him and several other aspects related to a child.
- Systemic issues such as services provided and functioning of the ICDS, LSG’s, role of Police etc.
- Structural issues such as distribution of mother’s income which will cover role of middlemen, babus, owners of rooms etc.
- Working with the children, empowering them to raise their voices in a participatory manner on protection issues through creation of safe spaces.
- Involving the group of 14 girls who are now youth as influencers for both the children and women for seeing an alternative world view where prostitution is not the path to be undertaken by girls.
- Involving the women of the community through the Rakhi Group and try to mobilize an alternative income generation programme. The women and adolescent girls to act as van guards – preventing minor girls to come into prostitution.
- Involvement of the community, club members and adolescent boys through sessions for working on the masculinity norms.
- Organise Community Programmes for raising awareness and involvement of the community towards Child protection issues.
- Engage with the Police for bridging the gap between community and them, to prevent violation with regards to children.
- Engagement with the system with regards to education, health and other relevant needs.
- Organise consultation with the external domain to spread the issues DIKSHA is working with. Involvement of media selectively and sensitively in the process.
Review and Impact
DIKSHA’s thrust on ensuring Child protection through participation blends well with the CRY Goals where the Goal 4 “Contribute towards creating a protective environment for children that is free from violence, abuse and exploitation” & Goal 5 “Ensure children’s voices are recognized as significant and unique in issues that affect them” are the main thrusts of the organisation. The impact of the intervention has also been observed to have a bearing on areas like school enrollment, drop outs and Health. In Child Protection the issues of Child Marriage, Child Labour, Child Sexual Abuse and violence within home and community are being addressed with the help of community women, club members, Councilor and Police. It has been able to amplify the voices of children in the domain of adults for seeking redress.
- Survey on ICDS status in Munsigunj and place demands accordingly through DSW or Aganwadi on demand – Swatantra Yuvak Club and 5 Star Club.
- Discussion on Sexual health is being undertaken; however menstrual hygiene is an area which needs to be addressed in Munsigunj.
- Collecting information from different departments about the schemes of children, girls and women – Sabala, SJSRY & from KMC through Councillors on vocational training. Liaising with different departments for availing schemes.
- A session on Child Marriage Act was taken with the staffs to orient them on the provisions enshrined in the act with the staffs.
- 15 cases of Child Protection were identified by the Core Group of which 6 cases have been taken up for redress by them.
- 25 child labours (23 in Munsigunj and 2 in Kalighat) have been identified. 7 (2 – Kalighat, 5 Munsigunj) children have been negotiated with their employers to attend the DIKSHA centre.
- Meeting with community members on protection issues at 5 slums in Khidirpur.
- Networking with CCRP has been initiated whereby the manner in which the intricacies of approaching the CWC and JJB within the J.J System is being discussed.
- Orientation on RTE and specifically on the areas of charging of development fees and ways in which it can be addressed was undertaken by WBEN.
- Workshop on session planning and facilitation skills along with possible ways of strengthening communication skills.
- Encourage the child to speak out the action, give them courage, confidence and conviction that it was not your fault – peer counseling.
- Awareness generation for accepting the fact children are stating the truth, being careful of such incidents and the need for taking up the issue.
- Develop and strengthen the Rakhi Group members so that they can start to raise their voice.
- Motivate the clubs through discussion and involvement of the Councilor’s son on referring cases of Child Sexual Abuse(CSA) to the Police.
- Meeting with Police regarding booking of cases of CSA under POCSO, not providing bail to the perpetrators, intimation of the cases to the CWC.
- Attempt to take 5 children out of substance dependence while reducing the intake of substance amongst another 5 children.
- Sensitisation of club members to not involve children in procurement of substance/alcohol.
- Re-enrolment 23 children from Munsigunj in schools.
- At least 3 drop outs to be enrolled and their linkage with Kanyasri scheme for girls from school & the Directorate.
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