Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) chairperson Ph Manibabu Sharma on Wednesday expressed apprehension over increasing child trafficking cases post COVID-19 lockdown in the state.
Sharma was speaking at a one-day state-level workshop on combating child trafficking post COVID-19 lockdown which was organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR) held at City Convention, Palace Compound in Imphal Wednesday.
The workshop is being organised specially to protect children from trafficking, as some related cases of child trafficking, particularly from Tengnoupal and Moreh are being reported, Sharma said.
"The increase in child trafficking or human trafficking post COVID may be due to financial problems," he said, adding, "Issues of lack of financial support is high due to the slowing down of economy amid the pandemic so child trafficking may be used as a means of earning". This finding is based on some cases that are reported to police and MCPCR, he said.
Sharma also said that border areas like Tengnoupal and Moreh is the easiest route of trafficking so the children of such areas need to be protected. He said the suggestion or opinions that arise at the workshop will be sent to NCPCR to include in the child protection policy.
Social Welfare Minister Okram Henry, speaking on the occasion, said children are the future of the nation. “Children play a big role for the future. To protect and build great children is necessary to bring strong generation”.
“While child trafficking is reported to be increasing in the state owing to the easy route of trafficking in the state, human trafficking has become a means of earning and 80 per cent of trafficking victims is women and children,” Henry said.
However, to prevent such trafficking is not only the responsibility of the government department and police. People should also create awareness about the cases and educate parents to protect the children and shape the future generation properly, he said.
Education Minister Sorokhaibam Rajen also spoke on the occasion and said to create awareness, especially among parents to protect children as well as women from trafficking is highly essential.
“The causes and factors of trafficking should not be taken easily. Although authorities concerned are taking the responsibility to protect children and women, cooperation from the people is needed,” he added.
Addressing the workshop, Deputy Commissioner Imphal East, Khumanthem Diana Devi said child trafficking or human trafficking in the state is increasing as the state has an easy route for trafficking. In the state, child or women trafficking are carried out with false promises, she said.
“It is not easy to take care of trafficking as many of trafficking victims are hiding due to fear of stigma,” Diana pointed out.
NCPCR chairperson Priyank Kanoongo in his keynote address through video conferencing stated the objectives of the workshop.
To protect children and women trafficking, a joint action plan from each sectors of the states of the country should have strong approach. The route of trafficking should be found out. Poverty is one of the causes. Many have started to prevent trafficking but it needs sectoral approach, he added.
The mapping of children and families vulnerable to child trafficking and matching them with relevant scheme of the Central government and the Manipur government to combat trafficking is one of the objectives of the workshop, he said.
Representatives from the Manipur Police department, personnel from Assam Rifles and BSF and others government department representatives attended the workshop.
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