New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Working mothers from 28 slums of Delhi Tuesday said anganwadi centres should have creches where they can leave their children and are not forced to leave them unattended at home.
"I need a safe place to leave my children when I go to work. I lock up my two young children in my rented room," Khushboo from Janta Colony told members of NGOs and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights during a 'Jan Sunvai' (public hearing) here.
"We need a creche attached to the anganwadi, which will keep children for long hours, where they are safe, get food and there is someone to take care of them," she said.
According to a survey by Delhi Forum for Creche and Childcare Services in 1,380 households in the 28 slums, nearly 60 percent of women there spent four to eight hours at work and had to leave children unattended at home in absence of any nutritional, health and social protection.
"Working women from the 'basti' (slum) need creches attached to anganwadis so that we can work without anxiety. If the creche is open for six to eight hours, older children, who take care of the younger ones, can go to school," said Salma Dharmapal from a slum in Bakkarwala in Nangloi.
In the slums surveyed by the NGO, majority of the working women said they needed creches for the health and security of their children.
The women, dependent on anganwadi services, said the centres worked for limited hours during the day which was not feasible for them.
According to the NGO, the central government's Integrated Child Development Scheme (which runs the anganwadi centres) provided only three-hour programme for the three to six year olds without any provision for creches.
It said the Rajiv Gandhi Creche Scheme covered only 17,000 children in the city.
"There are 11,7085 anganwadi centres in Delhi and with the urban poor population increasing, creches are essential. So representatives of the slums and NGOs will hand over a petition to Delhi government on this," Devika Singh, advisor, NGO Mobile Creches, said.
She said children of working women from the slums were either left with their siblings or neighbours and elderly.
"It is time we respond to rights of children under six who have been marginalised in all laws and policies. It is a shame that there continues to be such a lack of basic childcare services in this large and rich metropolis where survival depends on wage work by all adults, men and women," said Vandana Prasad, member, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
"Rape and murder of children in Delhi highlight the vulnerability they face with respect to their safety, poor nutrition status and inclusive education. It highlights inequitable development and our inability to provide children with equal opportunity.
"The commission is committed to pushing the state to take responsibility to providing quality public services to all children," she said.