The spurt in incidents of crime against children across India has raised serious concern with 53,874 cases registered in 2021 alone under the POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act, according to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
According to the NCRB, overall a total of 1,49,404 cases relating to crime against children were registered in 2021 against 1,28,531 cases in 2020, a rise of 16.2 per cent. If statistics of the NCRB are an indication, every third crime against a child was registered under the POCSO Act.
In 2021, a total of 33,348 incidents were registered under Sections 4 and 6 (punishment for penetrative sexual assault and aggravated penetrative sexual assault) of the POCSO Act and in these cases 33,036 were girls while 312 were boys.
However, cases of kidnapping of children were more with 67,245 registered, posing a challenge for the police forces across the country.
Delhi topped the list among the Union Territories with 7,783 crimes against children registered in 2021, while Nagaland registered the lowest number of crimes against children.
The total crimes against children rate went up from 28.9 per cent in 2020 to 33.6 per cent in 2021.
The NCRB data revealed a disturbing picture as 140 children were raped and murdered in 2021, while another 1,402 were also murdered. The maximum number of incidents of crime against children were reported in Uttar Pradesh, one of the largest states in India.
“There were 121 cases of foeticide registered last year with the largest number of cases reported in Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat (23 each) followed by Chhattisgarh (21) and Rajasthan (13). There were 359 cases of abetment to suicide of children also reported,” according to the data.
The data revealed that 49,535 children were abducted last year from across the country. Maharashtra (9,415) topped the list followed by Madhya Pradesh (8,224), Odisha (5,135) and West Bengal (4,026).
“As many as 29,364 children were declared missing and since deemed as kidnapped. Also, 1,046 children were trafficked last year. Almost 5,345 children were abducted in Delhi in 2021,” it said.
According to the data, there were 982 cases registered under the Child Labour Act last year with the highest number of cases reported in states like Telangana (305) followed by Assam. It also stated that 1,062 cases were registered under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act last year with the top three states being Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Assam.
Anindit Roy Chowdhury from NGO, Bal Raksha Bharat (Save the Children, India) said that everyone needs to come together as co-partners of the government and it’s different institutions in ensuring child protection across the country.
“There should be simplicity and greater accessibility of redressal mechanisms so that children and communities have ease in reporting crimes. There is a need to build capacity of the law enforcement authorities, judiciary and other child protection human resources within the government to ensure addressal of crimes against children in a humane and appropriate manner,” she said.
“We also need to create strong community based approaches and programmes on child protection and prevention of crimes against children,” she added.