Rate of Crime against Children Increased by 15 times in 10 Years
Creating a safer India for its children, a distant dream?
National, 24th October: Going by the decadal growth, National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data highlights that the rate of crime against children rose exponentially from 1.8 to 28.9 over 2007-2017. Also, the recently published NCRB data reveals a 20 percent increase of crimes against children over 2016-2017, while the overall increase of crimes in India was 3.6 percent.
The NCRB data on crime in India, which was published after a gap of two years, reveals that crimes against children increased from 1,06,958 cases in 2016 to 1,29,032 in 2017. The alarming number of nearly 1.3 lakh cases in 2017 indicates that each day over 350 crimes were committed against children in India.
If we compare it with the pan-India crime numbers, which rose by 3.6 percent, it is likely to be deduced that crime against children has increased at a pace far greater than all crimes in the country. The rate of cognisable crimes against children also rose to 28.9 in 2017 per lakh children from 24 in 2016.
Assessing the report’s various crime heads, procurement of minor girls has increased by 37percent in 2017 as compared to 2016. Jharkhand is a new entrant in the top 5 list of states. Haryana and Assam make up almost 60 percent of the total cases reported under procurement of minor girls.
Meanwhile, kidnapping and abduction of children continues to be the biggest crime, accounting for almost 42 percent (54,163) total cases in 2017. Also, Bihar is a new entrant in the top 5 states when it comes to kidnapping and abduction of children occupying the 5th position while Maharashtra tops this list. However, this crime head witnesses a miniscule decline of 1 percent (54,723 cases) as compared to 2016.
Stressing on key requisites for preventing the issue, Priti Mahara, Director – Policy Advocacy and Research, CRY – Child Rights & You said, “Identifying vulnerable children and families and strengthening community level child protection systems are key to prevent kidnapping and abduction.”
India accounts for 16 percent of the total child labour in the world (ILO, 2012) and as per Census 2011, there are 10.13 million working children in India under 14 years of age. Under the NCRB 2016-2017 data, reporting of child labour witnessed a substantial increase of 126 percent in 2017. The report lists 462 cases of child labour in 2017 as compared to 204 in 2016.
Child Marriage is another significant barrier to India’s children empowerment with around 12 million married children in India, of which 75 percent are girls (census 2011). NCRB data 2017 reported 395 cases registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA), 2006. There is an increase of 21.17 percent in the reporting. Crime reported under Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 also shows an increase with reportage of 2,452 cases in 2017, an increase of 8.83 percent from 2016. Interestingly, the increase in reported cases of child marriage and child labour can be deemed as a positive development since both the issues often get social sanction but always go underreported.
For crimes under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, there has been an increase in the reportage from 32,608 cases in 2017 as compared to 36,022 cases in 2016. Also, there was only 1 percent decrease in cases of Sexual assault of children reported under POCSO (Section 8 & 10) or section 356 IPC. Also, other interesting aspects were that 94 percent of penetrative assault cases under POSCO (Section 4 and 6) were known to victims while 99 percent of victims reported under POCSO were girls. Further, over 40 percent cases under section 4&6 of POCSO were reported from the States of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
“There is a need to increase financial investments in child protection with a focus on prevention of crimes against children. Also, we need to facilitate convergence between government line department and civil society to generate awareness about redressal mechanism in the community, capacity building of officials in the child protection system like police, child welfare committees and facilitate the creation of a conducive, safe environment to increase reporting of crimes against children,” added PritI Mahara.
Besides, analysing the various existing crimes, the NCRB data 2017 introduced few new categories of crimes against children including gender disaggregated data, attempt to commit rape and cybercrimes under IT Act. Under attempt to commit rape, 457 cases were registered while 79 cases have been reported under cybercrimes in 2017.
Further, a state-wise analysis revealed Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh as the top two states for overall crimes against children, both stood at 14.8 percent with over 19,000 cases. Jharkhand saw the highest increase in crimes against children at 73.9 percent while Manipur had a significant decline of 18.7 percent between 2016 and 2017.