EXPERTS CALL FOR MITIGATING MULTIPLE VULNERABILITIES OF TRIBAL
CHILDREN DUE TO VIOLATION OF RIGHTS, POVERTY AND NATA PRATHA
WOMEN ARE FORCED TO FOLLOW NATA PRATHA TRADITION UNDER FAMILY’S PRESSURE FOR MONEY, SAY SPEAKERS AT STATE-LEVEL CONSULTATION
Jaipur, Dec. 30: Leading experts on child rights here today called for mitigating multiple vulnerabilities faced by tribal children in southern Rajasthan as a consequence of a violation of their right to protection, chronic household poverty and the Nata Pratha traditions in the tribal families. The speakers also pointed out that women were often forced to follow Nata Pratha by their families for money.
The occasion was a State-level sharing-cum-learning consultation on ensuring the protection of rights of tribal children at Ramada Hotel in Raja Park here, in which the partnership of Banswara-based NGO Vaagdhara with UNICEF for intervention for a betterment of tribal children highlighted.
The project has made a tremendous impact on the lives of marginalized tribal children through providing awareness on rights and protection issues and has contributed to positive development outcomes for them. The issues of Nata-affected children was one of the focus areas of the work undertaken as part of the project during the last two years.
Among others, Ms. Manan Chaturvedi, Chairperson, Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Mr. S.R. Meena, Joint Director, Rajasthan State Scheduled Tribe Commission, Mr. Sanjay Nirala, Programme Officer, UNICEF, and Mr. Ravi Jain, Director, Department Social Justice and Empowerment Department.
Vaagdhara has implemented the project in Aspur and Sabla blocks of Dungarpur district with the objective of improving capacities and capabilities of stakeholders and communities to mitigate multiple vulnerabilities of tribal children.
The speakers pointed out that the tribal women were mothers in their primary role and they were not following the Nata Pratha tradition out of their will. They are forced by their families for money against their desire, as they are not willing to leave their children as orphans.
Ms. Manan Chaturvedi cited the instances of tribal women’s pain while pointing out that the solutions to the problems caused by local traditions should be evolved keeping in view the compulsions in the tribal communities. “There is an urgent need to generate awareness among tribal women and educate them. We should just not deal with a problem but should, in fact, solve it,” she said.
Mr. Sanjay Nirala, presenting the findings of a research study said about 8.6 percent the population of the country comprised the tribal people. Rajasthan has a population of about 90 lakh of tribals, and 40 percent of them are children. About two percent of them are affected by Nata Pratha.
Mr. Ravi Jain said the tribal children were first included in the State Government’s Paalanhaar Yojana in 2013 as the information about their difficulties was not available earlier. The number of tribal children benefiting from the Government’s scheme was still very small, even though the State Government was spending Rs.200 crore on the tribal regions every year, he said.
Mr. Sunil Thomas Jacob of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said children affected by Nata Pratha were suffering from the health, educational and social fronts. In addition to the studies and research by voluntary organizations, the Government should also make a sincere attempt to bring tribal children to the mainstream of society.
Vaagdhara Programme Officer Mr. Abhinav Sharma and Ms. Pragati Shukla made a presentation on the study conducted on children affected by Nata Pratha. Mr. S.R. Meena said the hostel facility arranged for about 40,000 tribal children, but the funds allocated for the welfare of tribals was not fully utilized.
Mr. Gautam Sadhu of IIHMR and Mr. Rakesh Goswami, Chief of Bureau, Hindustan Times, Jaipur, also participated in the deliberations.
The study conducted in Aspur and Sabla, which are two of the tribal dominated blocks of Dungarpur district. The tribals have their high culture and practices, and the most common one is Nata Pratha, in which women move with another man in the case whether the husband is alive or dead. When women start a new relationship as a part of Nata Pratha, their children are often left behind. A custom-like Nata Pratha is detrimental to the development of children, but it is rampant and socially acceptable.
To understand the aspects of Nata deeply and its impact on children, Vaagdhara with the support of UNICEF has conducted a study and formed recommendations by it as a part of the project’s objectives. Simultaneously, the desk review of Tribal sub-Plan was also carried out by the organization to measure its impact and reach to the community. Tribal Sub-Plan is additive to the State Plans for rapid economic development of the tribals. It aims at filling up critical gaps in the family-based income and to covering “employment means income” generation activities and infrastructure incidental to it.
The document on the impact, gap, and recommendation from desk review of Tribal Sub-Plan also compiled for sharing it with the policy framers. The consultation, which shared and advocated the issues and challenges of the tribal children with policy makers, is expected to address the challenges in future. The recommendations may be incorporated during the Budget allocations for the tribal areas.
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Kalyan Singh Kothari