[The Hindu] 19 rescued minor girls restored to parents

Visakhapatnam | 29 June 2017

All the 19 minor girls from Gajapathi district of Odisha, who were rescued by Childline and Saathi an NGO with the help of Railway Protection Force (RPF) at Visakhapatnam railway station on Tuesday, were handed over to their parents after a counselling session on Wednesday.

The minor girls, all aged between 15 and 17 years, were reportedly being taken to Akiveedu in West Godavari district to work in shrimp hatcheries.

The girls, who were seen roaming on the platform suspiciously, were confronted by the Childline and Saathi volunteers.

And when they were not able to give a proper reply, they were shifted to Government Girls Shelter Home under the Juvenile Welfare Department, with the help of RPF personnel.

According to Abdul Raqeeb member of District Child Welfare Committee, the girls who were scared on Tuesday night divulged the details and their addresses on Wednesday.

“We immediately contacted their parent and handed over the girls to them after checking the authenticity,” he said.

The District Child Welfare Committee contacted the Joint Labour Commissioner in West Godavari district and efforts are on to book cases under Minimum Wages Act against the employers, said Mr. Raqeeb.

It is learnt that a number of girls from Odisha are already working in the hatcheries in West Godavari district and one among them was advised to bring a fresh batch from their village.

The girls were accompanied by a 25-year-old youth from the same village.

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“It is our duty to restore children to their families” – Railway minister

Shri Suresh Prabhu, Honourable Minister for Railways highlights the issue of runaway children on railway platforms and the government’s efforts to rescue and restore them back to family.

In the message, which comes straight from his heart, he speaks not only about the efforts done by Indian Railways to help these children, but also appeals to parents to take care of their children with love and affection.

“Children who leave their parents and run away from their homes often land up in difficult circumstances. Every day, we contact such children – we believe it is an important duty of ours to restore them to their families. On the stations, there are centres run by NGOs with whom we work so that children can be helped to stay at home in a happy family. If families stay happy, then the nation and the society will remain happy”

Shri Suresh Prabhu
Honourable Minister for Railways
Govt. of India

“Railway children” bags honors nationally and internationally

“Railway Children” is an award winning Kannada film that explores the world through the eyes of 10-year old Raju, who has left home and landed on a railway station. The film explores various themes such as abuse, sexual abuse, addiction and even gender issues. This film makes an honest attempt to explore the intimate realities of platform survival. In this world of platform-survival there are gangs, there’s drugs, there’s sexual violence, there’s entrepreneurial spirit, there’s life, there’s hope, there are helping hands and there are cruel bosses.

Though it is a fictional film, it draws inspiration from the real incidences experienced by the NGO Sathi and from the book “Rescuing Railway Children” by Lalitha Iyer and Malcolm Harper.

Honours and awards

The film premiered at the Mumbai International Film Festival in October 2016; it was the only film from Kannada competing in the India Gold Section.

Manohara K won the Award for the Best Child Actor at the 64th National Film Awards in 2017 and the 2016 Karnataka State Awards. The film was adjudged as the Second Best Film at 2016 Karnataka State Awards.

”Railway Children” was showcased at the 57th Zlin Film Festival – International Film Festival for Children and Youth held in Czech Republic in May 2017. The film received a commendation from the Ecumenical Jury Zlin 2017.

Smt. Maneka Gandhi reiterates the ministry’s commitment to help railway children

Through a video message, Smt. Maneka Sanjay Gandhi, Honorable Minister for Women and Child Development, Govt. of India has expressed her concern about runaway and separated children found on railway platforms.

Pledging the ministry’s commitment to help children in contact with railways, she has said that Railway Childline, a joint initiative of the Ministries of Women & Child Development and Railways will be expanded to cover 60 major railway stations soon. Through this expansion, more than 50,000 children can be helped every year.

She has appealed to all citizens to join hands in securing the future of these children as this cannot be the job of one person or the government alone.