Crimes Against Minors Spiked 337% in Madhya Pradesh in Last Decade
Bhopal: Madhya Pradesh recorded the highest spike in cases of crime against children in the last decade, an analysis of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data released last month shows.
The number of crimes against minors in the state, which has more than 2.4 crore children in the 0-14 age group, increased by 337% to 19,173 in 2021 from 4,383 in 2011—the highest in the country. To be specific, the state reported 52 cases, including sexual abuse, abduction, murder, child marriage and others, daily.
Compared to the national increase of 16.2% in the number of crimes against children from 2020 to 2021, Madhya Pradesh reported a surge of 11.3% from 19,173 cases to 17,008 in the same period. There were less than 1.5 lakh cases of crimes against children across all states and Union Territories in 2021.
An in-depth analysis of the NCRB data, done by NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) shows the massive spike of 337% in crimes committed against children between 2011 and 2021.
Crimes against children in MP between 2011 and 2021
“Out of total 52 cases of crimes against children reported a day in 2021, an average 25 cases included kidnapping and abduction and around 17 sexual exploitation,” Soha Moitra, regional director, CRY, said in a statement.
“It is noteworthy that the reporting of cases has improved owing to the use of technology. Yet many cases go unreported due to lack of access and sensitisation,” Moitra added.
Kidnapping, abduction doubled of national average
Madhya Pradesh reported the second highest number of cases of kidnapping and abduction of children. Out of 9,137 cases reported in 2021, around 48% were of kidnapping and abduction. Moreover, the rate of kidnapping and abduction of children at 31.9% is more than double of the all-India rate of 15.1%. The number of such cases increased by 6.2% in 2021 compared to 2020.
Third highest in POCSO cases
Out of 6,070 cases registered under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, in the country in 2021, Madhya Pradesh reported the third-highest number of cases in the country. In all, 31.7% of the total number of crimes against children in the state in 2021 were registered under POCSO—a rise of around 7.4% compared to 2020.
Stressing the rising vulnerability of children due to the pandemic, Moitra said: “The latest NCRB data clearly state that the pandemic has left children far more exposed and have increased the risks for children at multiple levels.”
Calling for an immediate need to address the problem, Moitra said: “The need of the hour is to focus more on allocating adequate resources towards strengthening the child protection system both in urban set-up as well as village-level child protection committees to ensure a robust mechanism of vigilance at the ground level.”
Pragya Shrivastava, ADG crime against woman, told Newsclick that “out of more than 6,000 cases lodged under POCSO in 2021, in 2,499 cases, girls went with their relatives on free will. But when parents approached the police station with a missing complaint, the police lodged an FIR under kidnapping and abduction charges”.
If the victim is minor, Shrivastava added, “We invoke sections of POCSO as per the provisions and directives of the court. Besides, when the missing child returns, the family does not inform the police and the case remains unsolved. A similar pattern emerges in cases of kidnapping and abduction.”
Shrivastava claimed that the Madhya Pradesh Police runs a special drive called Operation Muskan to recover missing children and women. “We have done wonders in solving pending cases. We have 84% rate in filing charge sheets in cases of crime against woman and 100% rate in cases of POCSO.”
According to Shrivastava, in the “majority of cases of atrocities against children and women, the accused/culprit are relatives. Home is the safest place for any woman and child and relatives should be their protectors. But data suggests otherwise. We need to create awareness and sensitise people to curb the cases”.
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