SAARC will set up a uniform child helpline-number
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) members have signed an agreement to set up a uniform child helpline number to check violence against children. It was decided during the 3-day South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) meeting, which saw the participation of ministers and delegates from SAARC nations. India has offered support to SAARC countries to upgrade their helplines.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an intergovernmental organisation comprising 8 South Asian nations- Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Established in Dhaka in 1985, its secretariat is based in Kathmandu. SAARC aims to promote development and regional integration by cooperation in multiple areas such as agriculture, energy, poverty alleviation, culture, science and technology, tourism, etc.
The South Asia Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC) is an intergovernmental body which was launched in 2006 as a response to a worldwide call by the United Nations for ending violence against children.
According to the Women and Child Development Minister, Maneka Gandhi, all the South Asian nations suffer from common problems such as child trafficking, exploitation, abuse, etc. Home Minister Rajnath Singh listed child sex tourism and child pornography as major threats to all South Asian nations. Since the problems are interdependent, mutual learning and common initiatives can help in overcoming them.
India has called for regional cross-border initiatives to save the lives of children. Maneka Gandhi also extended India's support in setting up the system for making 1098 (Childline's helpline number) common for all SAARC nations. SAARC nations have agreed to cooperate on Information, Communication and Technology initiatives to trace missing children along the lines of Track Child and Khoya Paya web portals.
Childline is an initiative for rescuing and helping children in distress conditions. Present in 386 cities, it is operated by a Mumba-based NGO, Childline India Foundation. According to Maneka Gandhi, Childline is highly a successful model in preventing violence against children. In April 2016, more than 11 lakh phone calls from children were received which could be tracked on a real-time basis.