Sonia Gandhi calls children’s torture a ’shame’ (Lead)

February 5th, 2009 - 8:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia GandhiNew Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) Expressing outrage at the incident of an eight-year-old Dalit girl being brutally beaten by policemen in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Thursday said such acts “make us hang our heads in shame”.”Children are god’s gift to the world and despite all laws to protect them, it is sad to note that in India children are still being tortured which makes us hang our heads in shame. All of us should raise our voices against such horrific incidents,” Gandhi said while giving away the National Child Awards.

In a shocking display of brutality, police in Kailokhar village of Etawah district pulled eight-year-old Komal up by her hair, twisted her ears and rained blows on her inside a police station Monday for an alleged theft.

Six policemen, including a district superintendent of police, a sub-inspector and a station house officer, have been punished for beating the girl.

Gandhi said: “We should all stand against such incidents firmly.”

“We have the largest number of children in the world which is around 40 crore (400 million). They will be responsible for the future of the country,” she said.

Gandhi also expressed concern over child labour and stressed its eradication.

“I am worried that a large number of children instead of going to school are working. Child labour eradication needs more efforts. There is need to strengthen labour laws to check child labour and to run campaigns to stop child marriages and discrimination against the girl child,” she said adding that there was also need to stop female foeticide and child marriages.

Women and Child Development Minister Renuka Chowdhury also appealed to citizens across the country to check incidents of female foeticide.

“Even now we practise female foeticide. If we keep on killing girls then how can we have colour in our society?” she asked.

She said the Indian government has strengthened various legislations and has established machinery to protect the rights of the children but there is need for mass awareness to ensure effective implementation of these legislations.

Chowdhury said children are the assets of the country and all efforts should be made to protect their rights. “In the coming years India would be the youngest nation in terms of number of youth. Hence nurturing the talent of the children would ensure a bright future for the nation.”

“There have been untiring efforts of the government to ensure that the girl child is allowed her rightful place in the society with respect to right to life, right to nutrition and right to equal treatment,” she added.

The National Child Awards were given to 40 children for 2007 and 2008 for recognition of their exceptional abilities in academics, arts, culture and sports. Each child was presented with a medal, cash prize and a citation.

A postal stamp to commemorate National Girl Child Day was also released.

Communication and Information Technology Minister A. Raja while releasing the stamp said Indian tradition has always accorded a very high place to women in society. “However, some of the harsh realities on the treatment meted out to girl children have not only been shocking but despicable.”

He said discrimination against girl child mitigates the vision of a modern Indian that our founding fathers conceptualized.

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