Srinagar: The scarcity of juvenile homes in the state has been an issue that has been seeking attention from the government from the past several years. Now the government seems to have taken up the issue as it is contemplating to establish juvenile homes in each district of the State to effectively rehabilitate the children detained for anti-social activities and other crimes.
The state of Jammu and Kashmir which witnesses arrest of juveniles by the police almost every month for various reasons is one of the regions which cannot boast much about the facilities being provided to the young detainees.
Even the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights had in a report published in 2012 pointed out loopholes in infrastructure meant for juveniles in Kashmir.
According to the 25-page report, the only Juvenile Home located at Harwan on the outskirts of Srinagar City gives a feeling that the children are kept in a jail.
Juvenile detainees are facing various issues as the turmoil has exasperated the already grim situation regarding better development of children.
Given the various problems that children face, not only within the protective confines of their homes but also at schools, workplaces and other places of interaction that create unfavourable circumstance, the children often end up making themselves vulnerable to various misdoings and crimes.
Moreover, surveys have shown that children who witness and suffer abuse, domestic violence, broken families in their early years of life are more likely to grow with fragile and often disturbing and anti-social personal traits.
The issue becomes more complex owing to the fact the absence of proper and effective institutional system of guidance, which otherwise leads children to drug abuse and crimes. We know that law and legislation alone cannot help to improve the situation. Change can only be envisaged with commitment towards ensuring overall welfare of children.
And to implement this-if the government is serious enough it should not only implement the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013, in every district of the state on a mission mode, but establish these homes on scientific lines to expedite protection, rehabilitation and restoration of juveniles into the mainstream society.
However, all this should be done keeping in mind the past mistakes and lacunae’s that have been affecting the already setup lone juvenile home in Harwan.
The Juvenile Home received around 1200 juveniles during the past seven years, but lacks the mandatory medical facilities.
According to the Jammu and Kashmir Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2013, it is mandatory for a Juvenile Home to have the medical facilities, including doctor on call, on all working days for regular medical check-ups and treatment of the juveniles.
According to the Act, every institution shall maintain a medical record of each juvenile or child on the basis of monthly medical check-up and provide necessary medical facilities, ensure that the medical record includes weight and height record, any sickness and its treatment.
The Juvenile Home is required to coordinate with the local hospitals, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists and mental health institutes for regular visits by doctors/students and for holding periodic health camps within the institution.
In practice, however, it has been observed that juveniles are taken to hospital in case of illness and too handcuffed, an act which violates the Act.