A report prepared by VAAGDHARA in association with Unicef states that 2% of the 35 lakh tribal children in the age group of 4-14 has been impacted due to "Nata" practice.
Children abandoned under the primitive "Nata Pratha" among tribal communities are most vulnerable when it comes to physical and psychological abuse. This came to light during statewide consultation on the children left behind during "Nata" on Friday.
Historical accounts states that the practice of living with another person if a spouse is unhappy or one of them dies is prevalent from the last couple of centuries.
The person who undergoes Nata can live with another person of his/her choice without being married as many times as they want. Children from the first marriage are left behind when mother goes for "Nata Pratha". They, in majority of the case, face neglect when the new mother comes in the family under "Nata", says the report. The study was conducted among tribal children in Aspur and Sabla blocks of Dungarpur district.
The main findings are that majority of mothers who went for "Nata" marriage have either never tried or they were not allowed to maintain contact with their children.
"Thirty eight percent abandoned children covered under the study are subjected to exploitation in terms of household chores or have been beaten. Around 13% of the children have to face humiliation in schools and the society at large." said a report. it didn't stop here, 6% of them reportedly faced abuse (verbal and physical).
The level of social apathy is such that 50% of such children do not have friends as they are seen as social stigma in the society. The overall situation affects their education and mental growth and impacts their behavioural pattern.
Manan Chturvedi, chairperson of Rajasthan State Commission for Protection of Child Rights said, "The lack of emotional support, love and affection negatively affects these children. There is an urgent need for the state, society and families to take care of these children." She demanded that government intervention is required to protect the rights of the children affected by "Nata Pratha" to ensure smooth development of the child.
Chaturvedi cited instances of tribal women's pain while pointing out that, solutions to the problems caused by local traditions should be evolved keeping in view the compulsions in the tribal communities. "There is an urgent need to generate awareness among tribal women and educate them. We should just not deal with a problem but should solve it." she said.