Inauguration: The two-day State Level Workshop with paralegal volunteers for strengthening child protection systems and services in Gujarat began with the inaugural ceremony in the benign presence of Dr. Laxmi Bhawani, Chief of Office, UNICEF, Gujarat -Chief Guest & Mr. R.K. Modh, Project Officer, Gujarat State Legal Service Authority -Guest of Honour. The welcome note was given by the Provost Dr. Deepkal Shishoo. The gathering of our PLV participants was addressed by Prof. (Dr.) Saroj Bohra outlining the objective of the two-day workshop in partnership with UNICEF and collaboration with Gujarat State Legal Service Authority. She mentioned that 116 participants from the 26 districts of the State of Gujatat participated in the workshop making it a one of it’s kind State level workshop. Prof. (Dr.) Debarati Halder, had shed light upon the schedule for the two-day workshop before the august gathering.
The keynote address was made by Mr. Modh where he highlighted the importance of PLV’s. He emphasized that as a PLV it was most important to relate to the community with feelings of empathy and understand their grievances to guide them towards an appropriate remedy. He outlined the role of PLV’s to collaborate with NGOs for organizing awareness camps for villagers, to engage in Pro-bono research and conduct surveys, ensure publication of their studies and reports that they undertake and lastly to remain updated with the knowledge base and information they have by participating in such workshops.
Dr. Laxmi addressed the gathering with the important provisions under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights relating to protection and preservation of the innocent minds of the children. She emphasized upon the contribution of PLV’s to not only make the people aware about child right and protection, but to also inform the, rather attend to the victims and provide them the necessary remedy in terms of compensation and relief. She desired that network with other PLV’s across the state of Gujarat and even pan-India needs to be made, whereby they must ensure to create and build a repository of information and knowledge about the laws and remedy for child rights protection.
The vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Shrut where he expressed his heartfelt gratitude to all our dignitaries for the event and the PLV participants that arrived at the workshop.
Day 1 : The First Technical Session on ‘Role of Para Legal Volunteers as defined in the Principal legislation in India: key principles of free legal aid and how legal aid should reach all segments of India’s citizens’ was undertaken by Dr. Debarati Halder, Coordinator of the Workshop & Professor, Unitedworld School of Law. Dr. Halder enlightened participants on the strategies that PLVs shall follow, the key principles of free legal aid and how it shall reach to all segments of India’s citizens including marginalized and vulnerable groups such as women and children.
The First Technical Session on ‘Role of Para Legal Volunteers as defined in the Principal legislation in India: key principles of free legal aid and how legal aid should reach all segments of India’s citizens’ was undertaken by Dr. Debarati Halder, Coordinator of the Workshop & Professor, Unitedworld School of Law. Dr. Halder enlightened participants on the strategies that PLVs shall follow, the key principles of free legal aid and how it shall reach to all segments of India’s citizens including marginalized and vulnerable groups such as women and children.
The Second technical session was delivered by Mr. Vedprakash Gautam, Child Protection Specialist, UNICEF. This session addressed the key question why children are considered to be vulnerable and the vulnerabilities of children in India and Gujarat. The Session also covered the evolution of Child Rights as specific domain within Human Rights based programming framework; and the international instruments on Child Rights and Child Protection.
The Third technical session on ‘Indian Constitution as source of all legislation on Children in India: Key Articles and facets of Indian Constitution that ensure the rights of children’ by Prof. Shashank Shekhar, Assistant Professor, UWSL. The session covered the pillar base of our country – Our Constitution, its importance and rights possessed by every citizen of India (including children) bestowed upon by the democracy, socialism, equity and separation of powers between the centre and state giving it a prominent status in the society and portraying it as an inseparable part of the society.
The Fourth Session was taken by Dr. Kalpesh Gupta, Associate Professor, Parul University comprehensively dealing with Juvenile Justice Act. Dr. Gupta stated that Children of any society are always in a need of protection and care and the society should take endeavours to pursue it.
The next session was taken by Ms. Hemalee Leuvaa, State Consultant, Child Protection, UNICEF and Mr. Wasim Abdul Kureshi covering the scheme of Palak Mata Pita Yojna offered by the Gujarat Government starting from 1978 for orphan children to provide them an domestic and protective environment and Integrated Child Protection Scheme. It was followed by a comprehensive session on ‘POCSO Act, Online Child Victimization and Special Courts for Children’ taken by Dr. Debarati Halder, Coordinator of the Workshop & Professor, Unitedworld School of Law. The session addressed the issues involving the importance of pro bono lawyers working towards the direction of public good and the causes and the services rendered to the society. The PLVs should mainly perform three functions such involving to pursue education, to be informed about the current affairs in the society and also to lend a hand towards the suffering sections of the society. Along with this Dr. Halder also enlightened the PLVs about POCSO and Juvenile Justice Act targeting difference amongst sexual assault and sexual harassment.
Day 2 : The second day of the Two-Days State Level Workshop with Para-Legal Volunteers For Strengthening Child Protection Systems and Services in Gujarat was commenced today on May 26th, 2019 with great zeal and enthusiasm among individuals. The PLV participants and the session resource persons had a link of concern and attachment towards the vulnerable issues involving Child Protection and safety and the key factors involved with the current issues in the society with a great sense of dedication. Various deficient factors prevalent in the society were addressed.
The first session took a boost with the discussion of Ms. Gunjan Chawla, Assistant Professor, Unitedworld School of Law which involved right to education and equality between the male and female students as well as the right to primary education free of cost, including the convenience of one teacher among every thirty students. Along with this, she also informed about web portals for education such as SHAGUN, Rashtriya Avishkar Abhiyan PATHSHALA, etc.
The second session was taken up by Dr. Asha Verma throwing light upon the topics involving Child Labour and Bonded Labour inclusive of the topics of exploitation and misuse of the innocent nature of children working in industries. The Child Labour Prohibition and Abolition Act 2016 targets the individuals or organizations and shields the unfortunate children working under the forceful circumstances for earning monetary resources. Children have always been viewed as the future of any nation, they should be shaped into a better future rather than burdening them with labour. She also talked about the key things which help in finding whether the labour is bonded or not. She said, PLVs are supposed to observe them closely, later on, if the labour is bonded or child labour, they should counsel and encourage them to get enrolled in schools.
The succeeding session was taken by Dr. Parna Mukherjee, Assistant Professor, GLS touching the subjects of child trafficking and relative laws also rules related to it. She has divided the topic of trafficking into the three main factual factors i.e. 1. Sex Trafficking, 2. Labour and exploitation, 3.Trafficking for removal of body organs. United Nations Convention on the rights of the child,1989, and discussed the general principles like non-discrimination in the interest of children (Article 3 ) and the Right of children to be heard (Article 12) and to provide them with an equal opportunity in every sector. Therefore to protect the interests of victimized Children, an act, i.e. Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation Bill, 2018 is formed and also the efforts such as National Child Helpline and rescue measures are included to save as many lives as possible as a valuable asset and treasure of the country.
The fourth session was taken up by Prof. (Dr) Akil Saiyed, Dean – Law Department, Parul University, lifting up the main and highlighting the issue of our society such as causes of child marriage, poverty, protecting the sexual exploitation of young girls and women. Our society has faced an imbalance in gender equality for a long time because of the male dominant society and biasness towards the females of our community. He has also addressed the role and basic principles of skills expected in any PLV possessing the skills like courage, safety, coordination and having a motto to “Protect the life of vulnerable”.
The fifth session was taken up by Mr. Shrut Brahmbhatt, Assistant Professor, Karnavati University explained the important obstacles of violence against children clarifying how Violence has been defined by various international organisations pointing out the places where violence against children takes place. Further the most vulnerable children groups such as Disabled Children, Children with Gender non-conformity, and Children with belonging to SC & ST groups.
The workshop was concluded with an open session where PLVs were welcomed to give their suggestions and feedback.
Each PLV from every district came and shared their experience and observations as a Para Legal Volunteer and the experience of attending two days workshop. They thanked the University and UNICEF for conducting the workshop.
PLVs thanked KU, UNICEF and Gujarat State Legal Services Authority for hosting an exclusive workshop for Paralegal volunteers first time in the state of Gujarat. They shared their heart honestly and gave suggestion to uplift and empower Paralegal volunteers in the state of Gujarat and expected more such workshops and seminars to be conducted in future to appraise and update them about laws. The workshop had an overwhelming response with around 116 participants registered across 26 districts of Gujarat.