Extra security to protect children at the Mayapur Festival
Posted March 6, 2005
Prabhus, below is a notice regarding security for the festival in Mayapur this year. We want to make an all out effort to avoid a repeat of last year's problems. It's a bit lengthy because there are forms at the end for devotees to fill out before they come to save time in the registration process. Please post this as soon as possible on your conference sites and, if possible, print it out and post it in your temples or anywhere it may be seen by devotees coming for the festival.
Thanks for your help.
Yours in the service of Srila Prabhupada,
Ramadevi dasi (for Mayapur CPT)
Authorised by Mayapur Administrative Council
NEW FESTIVAL REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
Please note that this year we intend to very strictly guard against any illegal or illicit activity in the Dham, including intoxication and child abuse. Unfortunately, in the past, a few reckless persons have thus endangered themselves and others, as well as the whole standing of ISKCON in India. Therefore, on the registration forms this year, we now have a section that is intended to help us keep the festival free of these unwanted and serious disturbances. All festival-goers must carefully read this section, especially regarding the serious consequences of being caught engaging in any illegal or illicit activity. You will be asked to sign a form stating that you are aware of our standard on this matter and that you understand the consequences of any misdemeanor. Visitors who stay at private residences on the ISKCON property must also complete these forms.
Parents traveling with children under the age of sixteen will also be asked to read and discuss with their children an information sheet from the Mayapur Child Protection Team which covers general child-safety in Mayapur as well as the specific danger of child abuse. Parents must sign and return a section from this form at the time of registration. Several presentations about child and youth safety will be scheduled during the festival and we urge parents to attend one of these, along with their children. At last year's festival, one serious case of child molestation occurred, involving a young, unsupervised visiting child and an adult guest. This shocking and tragic type of incident must be prevented from happening again at all costs!
The few problems with intoxication that we have experienced at past festivals have usually involved younger persons under the influence of their older companions. Therefore, in order to protect our youth, we hereby notify all festival guests that anyone under eighteen years must be staying with their parent or other legal adult guardian over the legal adult age of 21 years. Only small children whose parents are under 21 years of age are exempt from the age restriction on their guardians. In the case that the festival guardian is not the parent or usual legal guardian, then a temporary transfer of guardianship must be supplied by the parent. At the time youth register, these guardians will be asked to sign guarantor forms, which means taking full responsiblility for the supervision and behaviour of their wards at all times. This includes sharing the consequences, legal and otherwise of any illicit activity.
Please do not expect any leniency in this regard. Immigration officials and embassies may be notified in the case of foreigners. Indian nationals will be handed over to the local police, and both will be immediately removed from the property. The local ISKCON centre in the offender's yatra and, in the case of youth, their family will also be notified. Future registration for ISKCON guesthouses and festivals in Mayapur and Vrndavan may be barred.
Anyone who became known to security or other departments as a supplier of intoxication in previous festivals will not be allowed to register this year and will be asked to leave the ISKCON property immediately. Those who became known as regular users of intoxication need a clearance from the Mayapur Security and CPT before registration. The list of such persons is confidential and is held by the Mayapur Child Protection Team and the Mayapur Security Department. If you have a doubt about your own status, information will be released to YOU only, on application, after the date of February 10th. Contact Manasi.Ganga@pamho.net
We genuinely regret any offense that the vast majority of sober and sincere festival-goers may feel due to our addressing this matter, but we hope that all of you, especially the youth, understand that our intention is to protect innocent persons from being victimized by bad association. We want to ensure that everyone has a safe, spiritually-enlivening experience!
To save yourself time during registration in Mayapur, please read, print and fill in the forms attached to this file and bring them with you.
Forms as Attachments
Please read the following Mayapur standards regarding illegal or illicit activity. Then sign the statement that follows. Youth under eighteen years of age must have their statement counter-signed by their adult guardian over 21 years.
"In order to protect the sanctity of the Holy Dham, to protect the devotees from bad association, and to safeguard ISKCON's standing with local authorities and Immigration, we have a policy of zero tolerance regarding child abuse, intoxication, and any other illegal or illicit activity. Offenders will be immediately removed from the property, delivered to the police in the case of illegality, their local ISKCON yatra notified, Immigration informed for foreigners, and future registration for festivals in Vrndavan and Mayapur may barred for all such persons. For youth, the same may apply to their adult guardians."
I understand the above policy, and agree to refrain from any such illicit or illegal activity.
Parent or Guardian of youth under 18 years:
I understand the above pllicy and stand as guarantor to the compliance of my child/ward.
Are you the parent or guardian of any children between the ages of 4 and 12 years? If so, you must read the following information about local safety issues for youth that has been supplied by the Mayapur Child Protection Team. It is also available at all guesthouses and wherever this registration form is filled. There is a section at the bottom of this form that you must sign and return before you can register. Please discuss the contents with your child. We also urge you to attend with your child AS SOON AS POSSIBLE one of the Child Safety presentations scheduled during the festival. These will be advertised at the morning programme and on posters.
"Child Safety in Mayapur"
- Child molesters have successfully singled out a very few unsupervised children. This has happened in the daytime, at the temple! Be vigilant! Report anything suspicious to security.
- Drugs are easy to obtain in India. Do not be naive. Your child may come under pressure to try them. Explain that they are dangerous, illegal, and forbidden in Mayapur. Users will be removed from the property and may be handed over to the police!
- Mother Ganga is full of strong currents and sinking mud. There have been drownings and collapses of the mud banks onto children. They must not go there unsupervised!
- Electricity in India is often unearthed. Shocks are frequent. They cause severe burns or even death. Avoid cables, generators, strings of lights, etc, especially near water. Construction sites are also extremely dangerous. In recent months there has been one severe electrocution and two near-fatal falls.
- The Children's Park in the Grhastha Area is not meant for "babysitting" unsupervised visiting children while parents attend seminars. Any such young children will be sent to the Security Office to be collected. Local parents and security guards can not be responsible for them.
- Poisonous snakes are found in paddy fields and long grass, especially at night. Wear shoes or, even better, avoid these places altogether.
I understand these safety instructions and have discussed them with my child. I agree to take full responsibility for my child's safety.
ARE YOU BETWEEN THE AGES OF 14 and 18?
If so, please fill in the following details of the parent or legal adult guardian over the age of 21 years who must share your accommodation and be present during your entire stay, including accompanying you on parikram. If the adult who will be your guardian for the festival is not your parent or legal guardian, please supply a signed statement from your parent giving temporary custody to this person.
Legal and initiated name of parent or guardian.............................
Relationship to child..............................
Signature of parent or guardian......................................
ARE YOU THE PARENT OF GUARDIAN OF ANYONE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE?
If so, please especially note that you must share their accommodation and be fully responsible for their behaviour and protection at all times, including on the parikrama. You will be held accountable in case they indulge in any illicit or illegal activity, on or off the property of ISKCON Mayapur.
I have read and understand the above responsibilities of a guardian and I undertake to follow all requirements. I especially understand that I am personally responsible for the supervision and safety of my child/ward at all times.