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Sharp spike in cases of child marriage and child trafficking in 2020!

The number of under-age marriages jumped from 523 to 785 within a year, this even as Covid-19 brought about unprecedented economic hardships on families

Sabrangindia 01 Apr 2022

Women and Child Development Ministry
Image Courtesy:news.indyatv.in

Child marriage cases shot up from 523 cases in 2019 to 785 cases in 2020, said the Women and Child Development Ministry on April 1, 2022 during Parliamentary proceedings. Further, the Ministry reported as many as 2,222 incidents of child trafficking in the same year.

BJP MP Parvesh Verma and DMK MP Shanmuga Sundaram K. asked Union Minister Smriti Irani about child marriage and child trafficking crimes respectively in recent years. Particularly Verma asked about the number of child marriage reports in the last three years.

Accordingly, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data showed 501 cases in 2018, 523 cases in 2019 and then 785 cases in 2020 under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, states reported 518 cases of child marriage and union territories (UTs) reported five cases. In 2020, this jumped to 779 cases in states and six cases in UTs. The biggest spike was in Andhra Pradesh were child marriage increased from 4 cases in 2019 to 32 cases in 2020. In terms of numbers, Karnataka reported 184 cases in 2020 after 111 cases in the previous year. Even in Delhi, there was a doubling trend wherein it reported one case in 2018 then two cases in 2019 and then four cases in 2020.

Additionally, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) received 360 complaints relating to child labour, 120 cases of child marriages were reported during the year 2020-21 and 2021-22 (February, 2022).

Child trafficking reports

In response to Sundaram’s queries, the Ministry said that 2,222 cases of child trafficking and 54,785 cases of kidnapping were reported in 2020 with 24 trafficking and 252 kidnapping cases in Tamil Nadu. As per the break up, 2008 trafficking cases occurred in states with 815 reported in Rajasthan alone. Similarly, states accounted for 50,606 kidnapping incidents with the highest incidents recorded in Maharashtra at 7,392 cases.

Meanwhile, Delhi reported 202 out of 214 trafficking cases in UTs. The national capital also led in terms of kidnapping incidents, reporting 3,748 out of 4,179 cases in a year alone. Mizoram, Nagaland, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands were the only regions to report no trafficking incident. Puducherry reported zero kidnapping incidents but five trafficking cases. Ladakh was the only region to report no such crimes in the given year.

Measures to curb child trafficking and kidnapping

When asked about what the Centre planned to do against reports of such cases, Irani talked about various initiatives and programmes held by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in vulnerable areas post lockdown. There was also a programme called “Samvardhan” to map children and their families vulnerable to child trafficking.

“The Ministry is implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely Child Protection Services Scheme under which support is provided to states and UT governments for delivering services for children in need of care and difficult circumstances. Child Care Institutions (CCIs) established under the CPS scheme support inter-alia age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counselling etc.,” said Irani.

Further, she said, the Ministry runs the Childline (1098) service, to reach children in crisis and link them to emergency and long-term care and rehabilitation services.

As for government attempts to bridges the gap between the PCMA and personal laws, Irani said the government introduced the ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ in the Parliament on December 21, 2021 to raise marriage age of women to 21 years, at par with men and to make consequential amendments in the enactments relating to age of marriage of parties. At the time, the move received heavy criticism from women’s groups.

Related:

Delhi HC asks for Centre’s opinion on declaring the Child Marriage ‘void ab initio’
Scrap the move to raise the age of marriage of girls to 21: AIDWA
Human Trafficking Bill overlooks agency of women it hopes to save
NCPCR suggests extending RTE to all minority institutions

Sharp spike in cases of child marriage and child trafficking in 2020!

The number of under-age marriages jumped from 523 to 785 within a year, this even as Covid-19 brought about unprecedented economic hardships on families

Women and Child Development Ministry
Image Courtesy:news.indyatv.in

Child marriage cases shot up from 523 cases in 2019 to 785 cases in 2020, said the Women and Child Development Ministry on April 1, 2022 during Parliamentary proceedings. Further, the Ministry reported as many as 2,222 incidents of child trafficking in the same year.

BJP MP Parvesh Verma and DMK MP Shanmuga Sundaram K. asked Union Minister Smriti Irani about child marriage and child trafficking crimes respectively in recent years. Particularly Verma asked about the number of child marriage reports in the last three years.

Accordingly, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data showed 501 cases in 2018, 523 cases in 2019 and then 785 cases in 2020 under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) 2006.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, states reported 518 cases of child marriage and union territories (UTs) reported five cases. In 2020, this jumped to 779 cases in states and six cases in UTs. The biggest spike was in Andhra Pradesh were child marriage increased from 4 cases in 2019 to 32 cases in 2020. In terms of numbers, Karnataka reported 184 cases in 2020 after 111 cases in the previous year. Even in Delhi, there was a doubling trend wherein it reported one case in 2018 then two cases in 2019 and then four cases in 2020.

Additionally, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) received 360 complaints relating to child labour, 120 cases of child marriages were reported during the year 2020-21 and 2021-22 (February, 2022).

Child trafficking reports

In response to Sundaram’s queries, the Ministry said that 2,222 cases of child trafficking and 54,785 cases of kidnapping were reported in 2020 with 24 trafficking and 252 kidnapping cases in Tamil Nadu. As per the break up, 2008 trafficking cases occurred in states with 815 reported in Rajasthan alone. Similarly, states accounted for 50,606 kidnapping incidents with the highest incidents recorded in Maharashtra at 7,392 cases.

Meanwhile, Delhi reported 202 out of 214 trafficking cases in UTs. The national capital also led in terms of kidnapping incidents, reporting 3,748 out of 4,179 cases in a year alone. Mizoram, Nagaland, Lakshadweep, Andaman and Nicobar Islands were the only regions to report no trafficking incident. Puducherry reported zero kidnapping incidents but five trafficking cases. Ladakh was the only region to report no such crimes in the given year.

Measures to curb child trafficking and kidnapping

When asked about what the Centre planned to do against reports of such cases, Irani talked about various initiatives and programmes held by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in vulnerable areas post lockdown. There was also a programme called “Samvardhan” to map children and their families vulnerable to child trafficking.

“The Ministry is implementing a centrally sponsored scheme namely Child Protection Services Scheme under which support is provided to states and UT governments for delivering services for children in need of care and difficult circumstances. Child Care Institutions (CCIs) established under the CPS scheme support inter-alia age-appropriate education, access to vocational training, recreation, health care, counselling etc.,” said Irani.

Further, she said, the Ministry runs the Childline (1098) service, to reach children in crisis and link them to emergency and long-term care and rehabilitation services.

As for government attempts to bridges the gap between the PCMA and personal laws, Irani said the government introduced the ‘Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ in the Parliament on December 21, 2021 to raise marriage age of women to 21 years, at par with men and to make consequential amendments in the enactments relating to age of marriage of parties. At the time, the move received heavy criticism from women’s groups.

Related:

Delhi HC asks for Centre’s opinion on declaring the Child Marriage ‘void ab initio’
Scrap the move to raise the age of marriage of girls to 21: AIDWA
Human Trafficking Bill overlooks agency of women it hopes to save
NCPCR suggests extending RTE to all minority institutions

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