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About Us

Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC), Pune is a city level forum of non-government organisatons working with vulnerable children in Pune.

The Consultation in Pune on the U.N. Convention on the ‘The Rights of the child’ was held in March 1991, to promote grater respect for the child as a human being. This resulted in the formation of ARC, which now consists of member organisations, including the Department of Social Welfare and agencies involved with the street child, the working child, the child in the city slums and the institutionalised child.

ARC's areas of concern are protection, education, sexual abuse, migrant child, child beggar and other vulnerable child as they relate to children in especially difficult circumstances. We aim to initiate change in these fields through dialogue, work shops, petitions.

Background and History

Nearly 70 years after Independence, basic rights remain a distant dream for a large proportion of India’s children. On one hand, considerable progress has been made: elementary education is now free and compulsory by law, child labour below 14 years is illegal, legislation exists against female feticide, child marriage, and child trafficking. Yet survival, health care, development, education, participation and protection still elude the majority of Indian children. Pune is no exception, with rapid urbanization and industrial growth creating wide disparities in living conditions. With a population of approximately 5 million, Pune is home to a large number of these children who live in a wide range of situations. On one hand new housing colonies have come up that provide all international amenities, including international schools and hospitals to the new and growing middle class. On the other hand the city’s poor live in large tracts of slums, sometimes very close to the elite gated colonies. In addition the building and road construction boom is attracting thousands of migrants from the poor and neglected hinterland of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, working on construction sites and infrastructure projects, especially on the fringes of the city. These families live on the edge of survival, totally dependent on grossly inadequate government basic services. As in all situations of deprivation, children are the worst affected. Children continue to toil as domestic workers, an unseen and unheard group, usually girls, constantly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse. The extent of child labour in Pune is difficult to quantify because so much of it is hidden – domestic work, working alongside parents in brick kilns, stone quarries and construction sites, and begging or hawking at traffic junctions, these children are deprived of all rights and exposed to all kinds of dangers. The challenge of identifying these children, rescuing them and rehabilitating them is a huge and urgent one. A new and frightening aspect of the violence that children face has been the increasing cased of sexual abuse of children, sometimes even infants, often by family members or other adults responsible for their care. At all levels there is gross inadequacy and insensitivity in the way these cases are handled, and both awareness and action in this area too are critical for the safety of children. Even where children are relatively free and attending school, several obstacles remain for children attending schools run by the Pune Municipal Corporation. Both in terms of basic functioning infrastructure and in other aspects of quality education, these schools are still well below acceptable standards. Recognizing this problem and finding ways to tackle it is not yet a priority for the city administration, though it is a critical one for the future of the city. Many NGOs and government agencies are involved in tackling these issues. Until 1991 these continued to fight their lone battles. Action for the Rights of the Child (ARC) was set up in 1991 to bring together NGOs, funding agencies, government departments and citizens involved in working with children from the poorest sections of society in Pune. ARC was conceived as an advocacy network for child rights. The initial agenda of the network was to maintain pressure on the government of India for the ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which GoI ratified in 1994. ARC was also one of the founding members of the nation-wide Campaign against Child Labour which has had a large role to play in shaping policy and legislation around child labour.

Networking
ARC attempts to bring together organisations within the city in order to build up a strong lobby on issues related to the vulnerable child.

Advocacy
ARC is commited to work for the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, by India. We are also involved in making decision makers and other selections of society, sensitive to the social, cultural, economic, political and judicial forces that shape the child's life and environment. ARC works closely with the Pune Municipal Corporation and it's Education Committee, the office of the Labour Commissioner, the police and other government authorities.

Research & Documentation
ARC collates and disseminates information on different aspects of the problems of the vulnerable and deprived child. We are also involved in creating media resources and keeping issues relating to children alive in the public consciousness. ARC also provides training and sensitization workshops for its partner's and community people.

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