Yashwardhan Joshi

A frightfully disturbing trend is seen in India– crimes against children are on the rise.
Statistics reveal that children are increasingly becoming victims of traffickers and sexual predators across the length and breath of the country.

Data from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that more than 100,000 crimes against children were reported in 2016, of which close to a third were sexual crimes such as rape, molestation, and exploitation for pornography.

Newspapers and television channels, day in and day out, carry stories of child abuse, and images of children demonstrating on the streets with placards reading: ‘Stop The Attacks’, ‘Enough is Enough’.
These have shaken the conscience of many a responsible citizen that even President Ram Nath Kovind had to speak up against the rise in crime against children .

At an event to mark the end of a month-long 11,000-km Bharat yatra, led by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, to create mass awareness about rape, sexual abuse, and trafficking of children, Mr Kovind said Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of ‘New India’ cannot be accomplished unless the issue of sexual violence against children is addressed.

“The PM talks about a new India referring to improved infrastructure in the country. But even if all that is achieved, if the issue of child sexual abuse and other sensitive crimes against children are not addressed, I think that we will miss making this concept possible when we celebrate 75 years of freedom (in 2022),” the President said.

From national capital region of Delhi to Hyderabad and from Maharashtra to Arunachal Pradesh, gut-wrenching stories of sexual abuse of children fill the pages of newspapers almost daily.

One of the latest from Delhi was that a rape of a toddler by a 21-year-old baby sitter less than a fortnight ago. The NCR had just two months ago been rudely shocked by the brutal murder of Pradyuman Thakur, a Class II student of Ryan International School in Gurgaon. There have been many such incidents after that.

In Hyderabad, an 85-year-old man was arrested last week for allegedly raping four minors and attempting to rape two other minor girls after luring them with chocolates.

In Thane area of Maharashtra, a 35-year-old teacher was arrested earlier this month for allegedly raping a 5-year-old girl a numberof times inside a madarsa.

This alarming trend is been seen in the northeast, too, with reports of child labour and sexual abuse becoming endemic to Arunachal Pradesh.

In the capital Itanagar alone, the Child Welfare Committee receives about 20 complaints of child rights violations a month.

Childline, a national helpline for children in need of care and protection, recorded 104 ‘confirmed cases’of child labour and seven of sexual abuse from across the State between January 2016 and July 2017– a highly disturbing number among a population of 15 lakh. And most crimes against children go unreported.
Satyarthi says the average age of a rape survivor is continuously sliding, and the rape of a five-year-old has become very common.

This is a moral epidemic haunting our country as well as the rest of the world. We cannot accept it. We have to break our silence as a nation. We have to raise our voice and unite as a nation,” says the Nobel laureate.
He points out to a trend of a large number of children also being forcefully taken from safety and made to work, sexually exploit or sold.

According to government data, more than 9,000 children were reported to have been trafficked in 2016– a 27 per cent rise from the previous year.

His Save the Childhood Movement has itself rescued more than 80,000 enslaved children so far.
But it is the heinous crime of rape and murder that send shivers down the spine of a responsible Indian.

Many, including Delhi Commission For Women Chairperson Swati Maliwal, have demanded that the rapists of minors be awarded death sentence within six months to send out a strong message.
In a recent incident in Delhi, ten persons were book for torturing two minors, forcing them to perform sexual acts on each other, and posting the video of the act on social media.

In fact, exploitation for pornography is the new drift that has emerged in the age of Internet.
The international police (Interpol) has raised concern over the increase in visuals of Indian children suffering sexual abuse uploaded on the Internet, and has warned that proliferation of such crime would be faster as the broadband network would reach every village in a few years.

During investigation this year, it found two child abuse images involving Indian children, which have been sent to New Delhi for further investigation.

Our children are increasingly becoming vulnerable to sexual abuse and violence. It is time to say enough is enough.

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