We Would Be Failing, If We Cant Protect Children: Kolkata HC On Rising Child Abuse Cases During Lockdown


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'We Would Be Failing, If We Can't Protect Children': Kolkata HC On Rising Child Abuse Cases During Lockdown

West Bengal police and administration received more than 200 complaints of child marriage during the lockdown.

Addressing the issue of Child Trafficking prevailing in West Bengal, the Kolkata High Court directed the state government to include panchayat pradhans in its efforts to stop the menace.

A Division Bench of Justices Soumen Sen and Harish Tandon said that sensitizing pradhans of all panchayats about child rights will help stop such crimes being committed at a large scale, The Indian Express reported.

This comes after a report that was filed by the Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) on June 8, that recorded the spurt in child trafficking and abuse cases in the state, especially during the lockdown period.

The report provided the data from March 20 to April 14, on cases of child marriage, sexual abuse, child trafficking, and other incidents of violation of child rights.

Member of the WBCPCR, Sudeshna Roy lauded the judgment. "It is indeed a very good order to include panchayats in the entire process. We already included panchayat pradhans and members. Without them, we cannot do this job successfully," as quoted.

She also informed that the police and administration have already received more that 200 complaints of child marriage during the lockdown, and have been able to stop maximum cases.

District judges have been asked to submit reports by June 16 on the implementation of the Court's earlier direction, on recording of statements under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in cases filed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.

In the case filed by the organisation, the bench also observed the involvement of family members in trafficking, in the garb of child marriage, child labour etc.

"We would be failing in our duty if we cannot protect the children from any kind of abuse including their exploitation," the bench said.

The High Court observed that while it is a common perception that the family is the safest heaven for younger children, 'they are trafficked by the family itself because of the poverty and uncertainty of the social stability.'

A non-governmental organisation 'Bachpan Bachao Andolan' had earlier filed a case in Supreme Court on similar issues, that stated almost 136 minor girls being married off in Bengal due to the lockdown and the devastation caused by cyclone Amphan.

The apex court further mulled over forming a committee to look into the issue of trafficking for employment at private establishments.

The Bench consisting CJI SA Bobde, AS Bopanna, and Hrishikesh Roy, noted that child trafficking was a 'menace and was carried out due to the availability of such markets, where children are employed as cheap labour, and traded for prostitution.'

Department of Labour have been directed to look into reported cases of child labour, and file a proper report about the action taken against the perpetrators.

The matter for hearing has been posted to June 18. The state administration has been given time till June 16 to file the affidavits for the same.

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