Childline in Assam bogged by constraints

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Guwahati, Jul 20: Eight long years after setting up office in Assam's capital city, Childline is still burdened with inadequacies that has made this extremely vital children's helpline unable to fulfill its mandate in the best manner.

The police ranks, especially the lower rungs, have also failed to lend the support shoulder to Childline, though a few samaritans and organisations have helped the helpline in tiding over emergencies.

The growing instances of trafficking of children from North East, with Guwahati serving as the transit point, have only added to the importance of the Childline.

The Childline project was launched in Guwahati as early as 2001 by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Welfare, with the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) as the collaborative agency.

The number of cases handled by the Childline has risen from 121 in 2001-02 to 388 in 2007-08, with the numbers showing a steady increase over the years.

Besides, there are other instances when the Childline provides on phone counselling to children as well as their parents, which are not included in the data of cases handled.

But the growing number of cases, without simultaneous increase in its infrastructure and staff, has raised questions on smooth and effective functioning of this extremely essential helpline.

ICCW director Dipti Baruah said, ''The funds are not enough and we are heavily dependent on donors and sponsors. At times, the workers have to spend from their own pocket to meet an emergency.'' The Childline India Foundation finances the Childline centre here, she added.

The awareness level among the general public is still limited, with instances also coming to light when police officials had failed in providing Childline phone numbers.

The fact that the emergency phone number can not be dialled from mobile phones, except BSNL connections, have also proved to be a deterrent with most people depending on mobile phones.

UNI

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