Photo Essay: India’s national campaign to raise awareness of child rights

In 1996, the CHILDLINE India Foundation (CIF) launched CHILDLINE 1098, a national toll free, 24-hour helpline in India providing emergency phone support and outreach for children in need of care and protection. A total of 36 million calls were answered by CHILDLINE as of March 2015, with over 600 partner organisations supporting the operation of CHILDLINE across 346 Indian cities.

Childline Se Dosti is a one-week national campaign run by CHILDLINE, with the aim of encouraging community members to become stakeholders in CHILDLINE 1098 and to raise awareness of both child rights and child protection. The campaign involves a range of events and activities across India to generate a million dosts (friends) for CHILDLINE. This photo essay highlights CHILDLINE campaign activities that I participated in with the CHILDLINE BREDS Pathapatnam office, as part of my 70-day Social work placement in Andhra Pradesh, India.

 

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1. National Children’s Day – Outside a classroom at Government Zilla Parishad High School, flower garlands surround a portrait of Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime minister of post-independent India. National Children’s Day in India is celebrated on Nehru’s birthday, November 14th, and is also the start of Childline Se Dosti. Nehru is said to have adored children who gave him the endearing nickname – ‘Chacha Nehru’.

 

2. Raksha Bamdhan ‘a bond of protection’ – Children tied yellow Child Se Dosti arm bands around Police from Hiramandalam Police Station as part of a movement to strengthen the partnership between children, CHILDLINE and community stakeholders. This activity also increases children’s confidence in accessing help. Police identified that the biggest safety issue for young women in this area is child marriage.

 

3. Signature campaign – CHILDLINE staff gain signatures from community members and youth at a bus station in Pathapatnam. The signatures will be photographed and documented records will be provided to the state government to bring awareness to the work of CHILDLINE.

 

4. Mandal Stakeholders Meeting – At the Mandal Development Office in Pathapatnam, stakeholders met with CHILDLINE staff and children with disabilities from local schools. This meeting aimed to increase awareness of CHILDLINE and children were awarded prizes for their posters. This child’s drawing depicts a child calling CHILDLINE (left) and the Hindu god Lord Ganesh (right). This elephant-headed god is worshipped as the remover of obstacles and the lord of new beginnings.

 

5. Saravakota street rally – girls from the local government high school joined the CHILDLINE rally and street walk. Children held placards promoting children’s rights, in particular the rights of the ‘girl child’, and raised awareness for issues such as child marriage and child labour.

 

6. Saravakota street rally – children held the CHILDLINE banner and placards to lead two rows of school children to rally through the streets of Saravakota. Ghanis (age 14) (far left) used my video camera to walk up and down the rows of children, filming them as they rallied down the street.

 

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7. Pathapatnam street rally – twin boys from the local government high school join the CHILDLINE rally and street walk. A Police escort joined the rally on foot and CHILDLINE staff used megaphones to call protest chants in Telugu that the children responded to such as ‘Child Se Dosti – friends of children , Balaya Vivahalu, apaly apaly – Child marriage, Stop Stop and Balala Hakkulu Kapadudam – Protect Child Rights!

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My social work placement in India is being completed with the support of a grant from the Layne Beachley Aim for the Stars Foundation

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