The Magical Number: 1098 by Swastika Singh

A number with just four digits can revolutionize the world, a number can create a safe world for
children, a number can transform million lives. Do you know this magical number? It is 1098. Yes, a
seemingly normal number can be the greatest weapon of Indians against child abuse. Let’s get a better
understanding of this magical number-

Childline 1098 is India’s first 24-hour, free, emergency phone outreach service for children in dire need
of care and protection. The attendee of the call ensures safety of the child from every type of abuse.
Every answered call ensures that the case reported is attended at the earliest and the child involved is
safely rescued.

Child helpline has emerged as a very effective mode for reporting cases of child abuse. It runs on a well
defined structure through the network of Civil society organizations and supported by Ministry of
Women and Child Development, Government of India. Some features:

  • 24×7 child helpline
  • 1098 a toll free number supported by telecom network providers
  • Supported as a component of child protection services
  • Delivery of services through PPP
  • Anonymity of the complainant

Since the inception of the child helpline number, a great movement has been launched against cases of
child abuse and millions of children have been rescued and supported.

Child helpline is based on the idea that every person should take cognizance of issues pertaining to
children and indulge himself in this fight against child abuse. Every person is encouraged to take
responsibility for promoting space spaces for children by reporting cases of child abuse. Thus, it’s
imperative to report cases of abuse against children(as mandated by POSCO law).

So next time when you see..

  • A child working at a dhaba or tea stall- Call 1098
  • A child begging- Call 1098
  • A child working at your friend’s/relative’s place- Call 1098
  • A child physically/sexually abused- Call 1098( this is mandated under POSCO law)

There is no end to above mentioned scenarios, therefore it is important to exercise our privileges and
contribute to child support by reporting every form of abuse.

I called child helpline number to report an abuse against a child, is my job done?

While calling 1098 to report abuse against children is a massive step towards creating safe environment
for children, the job’s not done yet. Following steps should be done along with reporting:

  • Take appropriate interest in the case; proactive follow-up is the need of the hour.
    Track the process vigilantly by actively participating in the process through timely check-ins and
    updates.
  • Settle down only after receiving a confirmation regarding the rescue and rehabilitation of the
    child.
  • Create awareness around you and encourage people to report cases of child abuse. Give them
    an insight in your case and let them know your experience with the child helpline agency.
  • Keep up the good effort of reporting cases of child abuse.

Other child helpline number that guarantees prompt actions:
Bachpan Bachao Andolan(BBA): Complaint Cell 1800-102-7222 was launched in 2017 to make the
process of rescuing children more systematic and effective.

BBA child helpline works in a similar fashion and ensures the safety and rehabilitation of the rescued
child. Aforementioned features and procedures are similar for both the child helpline number.

A short excerpt from a demo-call to a child helpline number
(It’s a product of my imagination and it’s to give the viewers an idea what conversation follows between
the attendee of child helpline and a complainant. This conversation shouldn’t be perceived on face
value, it’s just to familiarize people with child helpline number. The conversation is not exhaustive and
different people can have different experience, but the end result remains the same: Azadi(Freedom)
of a child).

Reeta was waiting at the Bandara Railway station for her train to Kashi, when a boy, aged between 10-
15 years, approached her. The boy was selling snacks and urged Reeta to buy some packets. The
dejected state of the boy horrified Reeta. She couldn’t let the boy on his own, given his age and
condition. She had a brief conversation with the boy and decided to report the matter to the child
helpline number.
( Akash is the attendee of the child helpline call)

Reeta: *calls 1098* Hello.
Akash: Hello ma’am, I am Akash from child helpline number.
Reeta: I have to report a child abuse. A minor boy at Bandara, Delhi Railway station is selling snacks.
Judging from his accent, he seems to be from Jharkhand. On enquiry, he reveals that he works for a shop
situated at the end of the railway station.
Akash: Thank You for reporting. We will immediately look into the matter. Will you be available on this
number for contact regarding the case?
Reeta: Yes, this is my personal contact number.
Akash: Okay Ma’am, we will keep you updated.

*12 hours later*

Akash: Hello Ma’am, we have reached the Railway station. May we know exactly on which platform
did you see the child?
Reeta: At platform number 9.
Akash: Okay ma’am.

*After 3 days*

Reeta: *calls 1098* Hello, four days ago I reported a child abuse at Bandara Railway Station. I have
called for a follow-up.
Sandhya: Hello Ma’am, I just checked the concerned matter. The child has been rescued and is in a
shelter home. The trafficker has been arrested. The boy's parents have been contacted to reach Bandara
along with the boy's ID for safe handover. You will receive a confirmation call after the closure of the
case. Thank You for reporting.
Reeta: Thank You for the update! Hoping a great life for the child.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Reeta was not a child activist, she was not a social worker. She was only an aware citizen of this country,
a citizen who was mindful of her rights and responsibilities. She stood against child labor by exercising
her power of child helpline number. People like Reeta are everywhere and inside everybody, we just
need to acknowledge them. Raise your voice against child labor by the power of reporting. The magical
number: 1098 will end child trade!

Repeat: 10, 9, 8 we will end child trade.

 

6 Replies to “The Magical Number: 1098 by Swastika Singh”

  • Hi Swastika, Firstly I really love how you asked rhetorical questions which you went into further details about. Another aspect of this piece I found fascinating was the actual phone call you took. That is a very proactive way of talking or writing about something. Both of these aspects add greatly to a brilliant expression which everyone should read.

  • I really liked the article how it addressed the importance of helpline number, and will give encouragement to many to shed their social anxiety and access it.
    Amazing work 👏

  • The way you actually have spread awareness through the magical no. and the conversation is the best part. It tells all of the basic and at the same time very necessary info to all of us. Good job!

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