The West Bengal government as well as some NGOs have started taking steps to combat the upward trend in crimes against children in the state. The latest National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) said that West Bengal had registered 7004 crimes against children in 2016, the 5th highest number in the country. Uttar Pradesh is on the top of the list with 15 per cent followed by Maharashtra (14 pc), Madhya Pradesh (13 pc), Delhi (8 pc) and West Bengal (6 pc).
Nearly 20 crimes are committed against children every day in the state. West Bengal shows upward trend in crimes related to kidnapping, child trafficking and sexual offences against children, and these consist of over 90 per cent of crimes against children in the state. The state accounted for 7004 recorded crimes against children of which 4178 crimes were registered under kidnapping and human trafficking from neighbouring countries. Besides, 2132 crimes were booked under POCSO Act, which included rape and sexual assault, as per NCRB data.
West Bengal tops the list in human trafficking of minors for prostitution, which stood at 53.3 per cent (highest in the country) registering a 17 per cent growth from 2012 to 2016. In trafficking of minor girls, the state records 27 per cent, second highest in the country registering a growth of 47.7 per cent from 2012 to 2016. In kidnapping and abduction together, the state records 6.6 per cent, fifth highest in the country. West Bengal also records six per cent crimes under POCSO, fourth highest in the country.
Taking into account of the urbanisation of crime, only about five per cent of the crime in the state are committed in Kolkata. However, the city records a huge number of trafficking of girls from foreign countries (40 per cent of total trafficking in WB from neighbouring countries), trafficking of minors for prostitution (16 per cent of such crimes in WB). “Going by the recent trends revealed by NCRB data, West Bengal along with some other states continue to show worrying trends in cases related to crimes against children,” Atindra Nath Das, Regional Director, CRY-Child Rights and You (East) told PTI.
Speaking about the socio-economic reasons behind child trafficking, Das said, “abject poverty, coupled with sheer lack of livelihood, accentuates the problem.” “Lure of money to the poor parents and the expectation that their child will stay better, besides the relief that there will be one less mouth to feed, are the reasons behind growing child trafficking as people have been pushed to extreme financial crisis,” Das said. “The geographic location of the state and the porous border the state shares with other countries also increases the vulnerabilities of children to fall prey to trafficking,” he said.
However, Das believed, “These crimes can be prevented by all means. To achieve this, the most important step is to strengthen the existing safety-net for protection of children, and also to bring forth an overall protective environment for them, both in letter and spirit.” Besides CRY, other NGOs have also been working against the crime against children. Officials in the state said that police were now acting tough with the instruction of the state government.
The state together with the representatives of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) have assessed the situation in the state on the status of ICDS, child rights and child trafficking, he said.