India is witnessing an alarming rise in the number of crime against children, including sexual offences, particularly girls in India, according to a report which indicates a sharp rise by 35 per cent in crime against children between 2011 and 2021.
“The report proves that in spite of many government measures having been taken, our children are nowhere close to a safe and protected childhood,” CRY CEO Puja Marwaha said, calling for urgent measures to strengthen India’s child protection systems.
The NCRB 2021 report by Child Rights and You states that one out of every three crimes against children are registered under the POCSO Act (53,874 out of 1,49,404 – that is 36.1 per cent of total crimes against children).
Sexual crimes against children shows very strong gender tilt as adolescent girls within 12 to 16 years are reported to be victims in more than 99 per cent of the cases registered under the POCSO Act, the report stated.
The CRY NCRB report 2021 revealed that a total of 1,49,404 cases of crimes against children were recorded in 2021, as against 1,28,531 crime cases in 2020, which is a remarkable 16.2 per cent increase in crimes reported against children.
The report indicates that 17 crimes were committed against children every hour, which means 409 total crimes are being committed every day against children in India.
The actual scale of crimes committed against children may be higher than the numbers reflected, says the CRY CEO said.
“While it’s heartening to see that there is increased public awareness which possibly translates into higher reporting of cases, it should also be kept in mind that in our country many cases often go unrecorded, especially in remote areas – hence the actual scale of crimes committed against children may be higher than the numbers apparently reflect,” she said.
The NCRB data indicates that the COVID pandemic may have left children far more exposed and vulnerable when it came to issues related to child protection and may have increased risks for children manifold at multiple levels, she added.
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Efforts during humanitarian crises should be made swift, well-planned and responsive to children’s and families’ priorities, she said.
“Such a system would enable following of due processes within stipulated timelines and adequately utilise the strengths of a dedicated cadre of child protection officials. But to ensure all these, it needs to have more resources – at both systemic and financial levels, and is not attainable without adequate budget allocations for child protection and safety,” she said.
Legal Services Clinics of the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) at the village levels and the Legal Literacy Club of NALSA at the high school levels should ensure speedy justice delivery system for children.
Stressing the need for strengthening community-based child-protection mechanisms Puja highlighted how the Village Level Child Protection Committees can play a critical role as the first ports of call to link with the formal system. It can go a long way in maintaining vigilance, identify vulnerable children and families at the community levels, she added.