Innocence at peril

Authorities have failed to check rising crimes against children.

Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group

Two separate incidents involving minors, including a Dalit girl, have once again brought back focus on rising crimes and violence against children in the country. In the first incident, a minor Dalit girl was gangraped and filmed by the twelve accused in a Hisar village in Haryana. In the other case, a five-year-old boy was kidnapped for ransom and later killed by two teenagers in Pune.

While a shocked nation was coming to terms with these two incidents, in another incident a minor employed by a jewellery shop owner in Delhi was reportedly beaten severely for not rising early in the morning. The common strand in all these separate incidents is that the crimes against innocent children are going on unabated and the authorities are unable to rein in offenders despite laws.

A Zee Research Group analysis of government data says that a total of 33,098 cases of crime against children were reported in the country during 2011 as compared to 26,694 cases during 2010, suggesting an increase of 24.0 percent. Among states, the data points that Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Maharashtra have recorded highest number of criminal incidents against children.

Lamenting the rise in crime against children, Kiran Jyoti, executive director, Salaam Balaak Trust, a child focus NGO says, “Safe society is something that every child deserves. Clarity under the laws concerning children regarding uniform age for judgments is immediate requirement of the time”.

Highlighting the dual risk that crimes involving children pose, Anjali Pawar, Director at Sakhee, a child-centric NGO explained, “The problem concerning vulnerability is not just one but it’s actually two sided. It’s true that children are prone to crime but their tendency of getting involved in crime is also increasing as we can see in the Pune case.”

Yet another worrying trend pointed by the National Sample Survey data is that still 49.84 lakh children are estimated to be working across India. The whopping figure comes in the backdrop of government’s ambitious social welfare projects such as the National Child Labour Project (NCLP) and Grant-in-Aid (GIA) Schemes under the aegis of labour ministry.

The labour ministry claims to operate 7311 child labour special schools in 266 districts under the NCLP in 266 districts for 49.84 lakh child labour. It is anyone’s guess why they are not yielding desired results to eliminate the malaise of child labour.