'Media must become the voice of victimized children': By Kulsum Mustafa, CNS
15 Aug 2009
"Media must take up cudgels for victimized children. Sans allegiance to any powerful lobby and simply because they are not a vote bank, these children seem to be on nobody’s priority list. Media must speak for them," urged leading human rights advocate Tulika Srivastava.
She asked the media to step forward and ensure through their power that speedy justice is ensured in cases relating to children.
"Justice delayed is justice denied, but in the cases pertaining to children it is truly criminal if their trial is dragged for years. Imagine children losing their childhood in search of justice," said Ms Srivastava who is Founder member and managing trustee of Lucknow based legal NGO- Association for Advocacy on Legal Initiative (AALI).
Ms Srivastava said all this while addressing media persons at the bi-monthly "Media for Children" organized at the Uttar Pradesh Press Club. An initiative of UNICEF and Media Nest, the latter is a forum of media professional working for the welfare of journalists and their families.
These bi-monthly programmes are a capacity building exercise for the media professionals and are arranged to sensitize them so that they can write more sensitively on children’s issue.
Specializing in women’s human rights, child rights and gender issues, Ms Srivastava has worked with international mechanisms for building and expanding normative standards of human rights.
She has led and participated in campaigns to enhance protection for children's rights, and has contributed to the bill on offences against children, which is still pending before the Parliamentary Committee.
She said that while the abandoned and street children, kids of sex workers, child beggars and child prostitute are well covered by the media but the misery of invisible children like those against whom crime is committed or who have to live in prison because their parent is a suspected criminal.
Asserting that children are a government responsibility Ms Srivastava media can play a major role in helping children in difficult situations if they do well researched stories on these issues.
"Your focus should be on systems in against which the children are cast. Media must also focus on state obligations that ensure protection to Child right, to physical integrity and safety, without compromising their fundamental freedoms," she said dwelling on the court procedures, as well as ways in which media interfaces with "critical" cases- the need for its presence, and discretion.
Urging the media to deal with stories involving children rather sensitively she said that the focus must always be on projecting “macro pathos” that will have impact on "micro pathos."
She said that though Uttar Pradesh does not fall in an area which is labeled globally as 'conflict zone' but it still life is difficult for children who live in areas where there are Naxalites like Sonebhadra in Varanasi and violence on religious and caste lines.
She said that writing about these children will ensure that they get protection and security.
Kulsum Talha, senior journalist and secretary general, Media Nest conducted the proceeding of the interaction while senior photo journalist of The Hindu, Subir Roy, presented the vote of thanks.
Kulsum Mustafa, CNS
(The author is a senior journalist and Secretary-General of Media Nest. She is a fellow of Citizen News Service (CNS) Writers’ Bureau)