UNCRC Standards

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

The International Community has struggled with and debated the “Rights of the Child” for more than ninety years. The first Declaration of the Rights of the Child was endorsed by the League of Nations in 1924, and called the World Child Welfare Charter. Over the years the Charter was expanded and on 20th November 1989 the Convention on the Rights of the Child was signed and became effective less than one year later. Today only two countries have not ratified the Convention, namely the United States of America and Somalia. India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in December 1992. Shishur Sevay, as a model of non-institutional care for orphans, has looked into the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as a framework in providing the care for our girls. We are simply complying with what 191 nations, including India, agreed are the basic entitlements of children, particularly those under the direct protection of the state.

Article 2: The State Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth to each child without discrimination of any kind…. Shishur Sevay put no restriction on the girls we would take. When asked to choose among four children with disability we simply took all four. We try our best to protect the children from all forms of discrimination.
Article 3: The State Parties shall ensure that the institutions….conform with the standards established by competent authorities particularly in the areas of safety health in the number and suitability of their staff as well as competent supervision. Shishur Sevay is a registered charity and licensed home for orphans some with severe disabilities. The Department of Social Welfare conducts regular inspections. Staff is experienced; training is ongoing Fire safety electrical safety CCTV in all rooms. Dr. Harrison serves as government appointed Superintendent and maintains constant vigilance regarding safety both physical and emotional safety of the girls.
Article 7: The child…shall have the right from birth to a name the right to acquire a nationality and as far as possible the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents. They came without records some with only a first name some with multiple names none of which they said were correct. We gave them names and were able to get birth certificates necessary to enroll them in school. They did not know India as a country nor did they recognize a map of India They learned about India and became proud Indians. They love the classical literature songs and dance. We searched for their families where feasible and necessary for their needs. Over eleven years out of 21 children we did searches for nine. We were able to locate seven of the 9 families. Family restitution was possible in five of the cases. Of the two whose family couldn’t be found the search has been stopped in one and in the other one the search is ongoing. In several cases their mothers had been killed. In all cases we taught respect for their families and supported the girls in their sense of loss. For some the loss of younger siblings they had cared for was the worst aspect. They were more like mothers who lost children than children who lost mothers.
Article 14: State Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought conscience and religion…. The girls are encouraged to express their views and thoughts. Daily prayer is held following Hindu customs which is what they knew before coming to Shishur Sevay. Shishur Sevay conducts religious Puja with the older girls taking on increasing roles in preparation and conducting the ritual prayers and customs for the Pujas. They are taught about other religions as well as Human Rights.
Article 19: State Parties shall take all…..measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence injury or abuse neglect…. Our girls had already experienced abuse and neglect. We provide both preventive and curative support related to physical and/or mental violence injury or abuse and neglect. We maintain a policy of Zero Tolerance regarding abuse of children. We maintain a Child Protection Policy and have CCTV throughout the house.
Article 23: State Parties recognize that a mentally or physically disabled child should enjoy a full and decent life in conditions which ensure dignity promote self-reliance and facilitate the child’s active participation in the community… Quality of life of people with special needs must be provided because the severely impaired cannot control their environments. If no one brings them into the room with others they remain isolated. If no one feeds them they starve. Our inclusive living means they are in the midst of everything even if they can’t always participate. For the more abled or less disabled every opportunity is taken to involve them in community events. Our living classes and trips are inclusive. No one is left out. Assistive communication devices like the Tobii eye tracker are used by two of the children with cerebral palsy for communication and participation in class. With Tobii they can tell us how they feel and what they need.
Article 24: State Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and to facilities for the treatment of illness and rehabilitation of health. Healthcare is a priority. The girls came with many health problems; some will require lifetime medical care. The children are immunized and regular medical care is given. For serious illness they are treated at one of the private multispecialty hospitals. When a staff member was diagnosed with TB we treated all the children according to WHO’s highest standard and protocols. Physical rehabilitation is daily. Water is filtered and high sanitation maintained.
Article 27: State Parties recognize the rights of every child to standard of living adequate for the child’s physical mental spiritual moral and social development. The standard of living in Shishur Sevay exceeds all norms of food sanitation education nurturing health and arts. In essence Shishur Sevay is challenging Indian social norms of caste and class so the girls do not live lives of shame because of their origins. Shishur Sevay is helping them develop into confident competent and independent young women. Why should orphans be poor? They shouldn’t!
Article 28: State Parties recognize the right of the child to education. The children have attended community schools and special needs schools but now we have opened Ichche Dana Inclusive School. The school is safe disciplined and inclusive. Children are led to interact with their environment ask questions and take advantage of technology. All media is used including assistive technologies educational DVDs and software. Ichche Dana offers a personalized education plan for every child. Those children who are able sit for Board exams through the National Institute of Open Schooling. Two of them registered for the Secondary course through NIOS in 2017.
Article 31: State Parties recognize the right of the child to rest leisure to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and arts…. Five girls study dance at Mamata Shankar’s famous Udayan Dance Academy. Music therapy sessions are held twice a week. Each day has some form of arts either tabla harmonium guitar singing inclusive dance or art. Shishur Sevay has a small garden and play area. Recreational trips include picnics museums water parks sea beach and others.