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Public utilities in India not child-friendly: Study

Public utilities in India, including railway stations, parks and bus-stands, are not child-friendly with a spurt in cases of abuse in these places, a study has claimed.

According to the study by an NGO, children are often victimised in public spaces with 87 per cent of railway security forces claiming to have come across cases of child abuse in some way or the other.

"Protection of children and their rights has become an urgent imperative with a rise in the number of cases of children being victimised in public spaces," study said.

The study claimed children were victims of sexual, physical and verbal abuse in these spaces with "the public doing little to intervene except play the role of onlookers".

Besides, it noted that the children are accorded "least priority" by the government while planning and implementing public services or amenities.

"The government has shown a low level of sensitivity to children and low levels of preparedness of child protection while setting up public utilities," claimed study, adding inclusive policies and special human resources were imperative to check the violation of child rights.

The study is based on group discussions, interviews and surveys conducted in 11 states of the country, including Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.

The study also decried the perception that a child was safe in certain protected environments like schools.

"Most people perceive schools are safe without any further inquiry into the possible nature of abuse or into mechanism present to detect and address any kind of abuse or infringement of the rights of a child," it said.

The study has recommended the setting up of a national child protection network and adopting a more holistic approach to make spaces "accessible and safe for children".

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