Deputy Speaker of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, Dr Neelam Gorhe, has put forth a proposal to implement the 'Good Touch Bad Touch' initiative by the Gravitus Foundation across the state on Monday. This initiative, aimed at preventing the sexual exploitation of children, she suggested would be implemented under the recently signed cooperation agreement between UNICEF and the Government of India, focusing on the health, development, safety, and education of children. Dr Gorhe also emphasized the need to make the Juvenile Justice Act and other child safety programs available in Marathi.
Dr Gorhe made these remarks during the inauguration of the state-level conference on 'Child Health, Development, and Their Rights,' jointly organized by UNICEF and the Gravitus Foundation. The conference featured a range of participants including Rajeshwari Chandrasekhar (Head of UNICEF Maharashtra), Dr Vidya Yerwadekar (Director of 'Symbiosis'), Farah Khan (Director), Padmini Kolhapure (Actress), Dr Avinash Bhondve (Former President of Indian Medical Association, Maharashtra), Sanjay Haldikar (Children's theatre director), Dr Amita Phadnis (Pediatrician), Adv Divya Chavan, Laxminarayan Tripathi (Transgender activist), Rahul More (Deputy Commissioner of Women and Child Welfare), Amitabh Gupta (Additional Director General of Police - Prisons), Juganu Gupta (Social activist), and Arun Khore (Senior journalist).
Usha Kakade, the Founder of Gravitus Foundation, highlighted the significance of the conference in raising awareness about child rights, with a specific focus on child health, development, literacy, and youth participation in water management. She mentioned that the 'Good Touch, Bad Touch' initiative has already reached four lakh children, and additional conferences will be organized in Solapur, Kolhapur, and Nagpur with UNICEF's support.
Here's what guests had to say
Amitabh Gupta emphasized the importance of establishing 'Child-Friendly Police Stations' to ensure children feel supported by law enforcement agencies. He stressed the need for effective communication and information networks to better understand and address crimes involving children.
Farah Khan emphasized the power of films, including short films, documentaries, and reels, in effectively raising awareness about children's health and safety.
Padmini Kolhapure urged parents to prioritize imparting culture, good food, and education to their children, as these contribute to raising responsible citizens. She underlined the fundamental right of parental love, which should be given greater importance than career aspirations.
Laxminarayan Tripathi called on UNICEF to include transgenders in their initiatives, highlighting the need for broader societal acceptance despite the existence of favourable laws and policies for transgenders in India.
Dr Amita Phadnis emphasized the importance of good parenting, children's mental health, and nutrition. She advocated for providing children with positive companionship, fostering open communication, and offering encouragement during their formative years.
Rahul More emphasized the necessity of implementing awareness programs at various levels, tailored to address the distinct challenges faced by children from different communities. He emphasized the importance of holistic development and creating a safe environment for children.
Dr Vidya Yeravadekar stressed the role of parents and teachers in instilling respect for every girl child, promoting open communication, and limiting children's use of mobile phones and the internet.
Sanjay Haldikar highlighted the effectiveness of children's drama in creating awareness, suggesting the use of drama and street performances to tackle important issues such as 'good touch, bad touch.'
Adv. Divya Chavan suggested the consideration of 'Child-Friendly Courts' to foster a child-friendly atmosphere within the judicial system. During the event, Juganu Gupta, Swati Mohapatra, and Arun Khore also expressed their views and the session was expertly moderated by Leena Saldhana-Joshi while Sanghamitra Khore extended her gratitude to all the participants for their active participation and contribution to the conference.