NEW DELHI: Eight children were trafficked every day in the country in 2021 and were exploited, experts quoted the NCRB report, demanding a strong anti-trafficking law in the light of the worrying trend.
According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, a total of 2,189 cases of human trafficking were registered in 2021 as compared to 1,714 in 2020, showing an increase of 27.7 per cent.
"A total of 6,533 victims have been reported to be trafficked of which 2,877 are children and 3,656, adults. Apart from this, 6,213 victims have been rescued from the clutches of traffickers," the report said.
A total of 5,755 persons were arrested in 2,189 cases of trafficking, it added.
The report accounts only for those cases that have been registered by the Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs).
So far 768 AHTUs are functional and 20 states and union territories have achieved their target of setting up these units in all their districts.
Out of 2,189 cases of human trafficking registered by AHTUs in 2021, the highest number of the cases have been registered in Telangana, Maharashtra and Assam with 347, 320 and 203 cases, respectively.
"As per this data, eight children were trafficked every day in the country for different forms of exploitation such as labour, sexual exploitation, begging," experts said.
Jyoti Mathur, Executive Director at Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, said the foundation demands the passage of a strong anti-trafficking law in light of the worrying trend of children being trafficked as per Crime in India 2021.
"It is unfortunate that incidence of trafficking increased by 28 per cent in 2021 and 44 per cent of these victims are children," Mathur told PTI.
The high number of cases reported in 2021 is just the tip of the iceberg.
77,535 children were reported missing in the same report and if the children who went missing in previous years and continue to be missing are added to this number then the total goes up to 1,21,351, she said.
A majority of these children could be victims of trafficking, she said, adding that since many cases remain unreported, the reality is far more serious and worrisome.
Kaushik Gupta, an advocate in Calcutta High Court said the report clearly states that it comprises only AHTUs registered cases of human trafficking.
"There are many more cases which have not reached the AHTU and hence is not reflected in the report. Therefore, in my opinion, this report is inaccurate and incomplete," he said.
It also highlights the need of having a law which focuses on trafficking as a whole.
The survivors are eagerly waiting for the anti-trafficking bill to be passed by the Parliament at the earliest, he said.
Suresh Kumar, an anti-trafficking activist, said there's a 28 per cent jump in human trafficking cases in the country compared to the last reported cases.
"The conviction rate is only about 1.5 per cent. The poor rate of conviction fuels the highly organised crime of human trafficking. Traffickers work with impunity," he said.
"The country needs a comprehensive victim-centred law to combat human trafficking. The survivor of human trafficking needs long-term support to bounce back in life," Kumar added.
The Covid pandemic has left children far more exposed and vulnerable when it came to issues related to child protection and this has been proved by recent NCRB data which reported a 16.2 per cent rise in crimes against them in 2021 in comparison to previous year, according to child rights groups.
An analysis by child rights NGO CRY - Child Rights and You - on the latest data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, show 1,49,404 cases of crimes against children were recorded last year, which meant that every hour 17 crimes have been committed against children - translating to a whopping 409 incidents of crimes being committed every day against children in the country.
"There is a worrying rise in number of crimes against children when compared to last year - while NCRB data revealed that 1,28,531 cases of crimes that had been recorded in 2020, total number of crimes stood at 1,49,404 in 2021, indicating a remarkable 16.2 per cent increase in crimes reported against children," it said.
A close look at the decadal scenario points to an alarming upward trend where crimes against children increased sharply by 351 per cent between 2011 and 2021, the NCRB said.
Further analysis of the NCRB 2021 data suggests that sexual offences against children, especially girls, are steadily on the rise, as one out of every three crimes against children are registered under the POCSO Act (53,874 out of 1,49,404, i.e.36.1 per cent of total crimes against children).
More importantly, sexual crimes against children shows very strong gender tilt as adolescent girls within 12 to 16 years are reported to be the victims in more than 99 per cent of the cases registered under the POCSO Act.
Commenting on the trends, Puja Marwaha, CEO of CRY, said, "While it's heartening to see that there is increased public awareness which possibly translates into higher reporting of cases, it should also be kept in mind that in our country many cases often go unrecorded, especially in the remote areas - hence the actual scale of crimes committed against children may be higher than the numbers apparently reflect."
"The fear was that in all likelihood the COVID pandemic may have left children far more exposed and vulnerable when it came to issues related to child protection and may have increased risks for children manifold at multiple levels; and the current NCRB data has proved it right," Marwaha said.
On the way forward, Marwaha said it is time, more than ever, that urgent measures are needed to strengthen India's child protection systems and ensure that efforts during humanitarian crises are swift, well-planned and responsive to children's and families' priorities.
"Such a system would enable following of due processes within stipulated timelines and adequately utilise the strengths of a dedicated cadre of child protection officials.
But to ensure all these, it needs to have more resources at both systemic and financial levels, and is not attainable without adequate budget allocations for child protection and safety," she said.
Sudarshan Suchi, CEO of Save the Children, said as the country aspires for being a developed country by 2047, there is a need to quickly move to have an operational plans to make children protected safe in every way so that the future active citizens can partake from fruits of development.
"An immediate awakener for us is the latest report that crime rate per lakh children has increased from 28.9 to 33.6 per cent. This steady increase in the crimes against children is a wakeup call though it could also be because of raised awareness that the government and civil society organisations have worked on," he said.
"This is an opportunity for consolidating and strengthening the functioning of the child protection mechanism and collective efforts in containing the increasing incidences of violence against children on a war footing to arrest and reverse the trend.
As we improve our response mechanism, it is equally important to focus on the root causes that are contributing to the increasing crimes against women and children," Suchi added.
Strengthening the families, and reducing the vulnerabilities at the family and community level is essential as the lack it which pushes children into situations of violence and abuse, he said.
He also called for enhanced allocation on the preventive and non-institutional alternative care provisions under Mission Vatsalya (formerly ICPS), sponsorship foster care would go a long way in converting our intent to action and delivery.
"Mission Vatsalya, through its new guidelines aims to strengthen child protection at family and community level, equip families and communities to identify risks and vulnerabilities affecting children, create and promote preventive measures to protect children from situations of vulnerability, risk and abuse," he added.
Pending cases in Delhi increased by over four per cent in 2021 with 94,419 such cases under police investigation compared to 90,697 in 2020, according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data.
According to it, the pendency percentage in Delhi was 24.8 per cent while the charge sheet rate was 30 per cent.
The Delhi Police were investigating 3,79,758 cases lodged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2021, including 90,697 pending cases from the year before.
Of these, 2,85,142 cases were disposed of by the police while 94,419 cases were pending at the end of 2021.
Delhi accounts for 21.7 per cent of all pending cases in 19 metropolitan cities, according to the data.
The Delhi Police has, however, held the pandemic responsible for the high pendency of the cases.
"The police were involved in other social activities during the pandemic. Apart from this, the Delhi courts were also closed during the period. Courts were handling cases online. So, final reports of the charge sheet were not being taken while the courts were hearing specific cases online," a senior police official said.
According to NCRB data, 197 cases were quashed at the investigation stage in 2021.
Only six cases were transferred to other state or investigation agencies in 2021 as compared to 140 the previous year.
There was also a slight drop in cases that ended as a mistake of fact or law or Civil dispute.
In 2020, as many as 36,158 cases were ended while in 2021, only 35716 such cases were reported.
Delhi also reported the highest 2,618 crimes committed by juveniles among all 19 metropolitan cities.
This accounts for over 44 per cent of such crimes in 19 cities.
Among the eight Union Territories, Delhi recorded the highest number of human trafficking cases in 2021 with a 73.5 per cent rise in cases over 2020, according to NCRB data.
However, all the 509 victims of human trafficking in 2021 were rescued, the data showed.
According to it, most of the trafficked people were for forced labour, while a few of them were for sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and petty crimes.
However, none of the victims was trafficked for child pornography, begging, drug peddling or removal of organs.
A senior Delhi Police officer said in 2020 the entire nation faced multiple pandemic-induced lockdowns.
"Naturally the city witnessed an increase in human trafficking cases in 2021 when the movement of people resumed gradually."
"Migration is also a major reason. Being a hub for job opportunities, certain dealers try to lure youngsters and jobless people with lucrative offers and primes of a handsome salary. However, after reaching the destination they face the reality. Either they are not paid at all or are paid less than what was promised," the officer added.
According to NCRB data, 509 victims were trafficked in 2021 of whom a majority were male and 143 females.
Also, 437 victims of human trafficking in Delhi were below the age group of 18, including 100 girls.
Only 72 adults were trafficked, including 43 females.
The NCRB data also showed that 174 persons have been arrested for human trafficking in 2021 and 13 charge-sheeted while none have been convicted, acquitted or discharged by the courts.
According to another senior police officer, "Compared to other states or Union Territories, cases are promptly registered in Delhi.
We are prompt and better when it comes to policing.
"We also have a facility for online registration of complaints and every complaint is enquired for its authenticity and action is taken accordingly," the officer said.
The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Tuesday voiced concern over the surge in cases of crime against women in the national capital and said it is necessary to take strong steps to prevent the name of Delhi from getting spoiled.
In a tweet, DCW chief Swati Maliwal said, "According to NCRB data, crimes against women increased by 41 per cent in 2021 and the crimes against children increased by 32 per cent".
"This is a matter of deep concern," she said, adding every party and government should take strong steps to ensure safety of women.
"It is necessary to take strong steps to prevent the name of Delhi from getting spoiled. From an 8-month-old girl to a 90-year-old woman, raped in Delhi. Delhi Commission for Women is working 24x7 to make every woman feel safe. But this is not enough. All governments should come together, save the daughters," she said.
According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), two minor girls were raped every day last year in the national capital, which was the most unsafe metropolitan city for women across the country.
Delhi also recorded 13,892 cases of crimes against women in 2021, a significant surge of more than 40 per cent compared to 2020 when the figure was 9,782, the data showed.
The cases of crimes against women in Delhi accounted for 32.20 per cent of total crimes in the category among all 19 metropolitan cities, according to the data.
Women rights activists and experts have called for strong on-ground implementation of laws after the NCRB report revealed that cases of crime against women increased by 15.3 per cent in 2021 over the previous year.
A total of 4,28,278 cases of crimes against women were registered in 2021 compared to 3,71,503 cases in 2020.
The majority of cases under crime against women under IPC were registered under 'Cruelty by Husband or His Relatives' (31.8 per cent ) followed by 'Assault on Women with Intent to Outrage her Modesty' (20.8 per cent), 'Kidnapping & Abduction of Women' (17.6 per cent) and 'Rape' (7.4 per cent).
Ranjana Kumari, a social activist and director of the Centre for Social Research, said the data validates that crimes against women increased during the pandemic.
"We need a more robust system as the current one collapsed during COVID-19. We need to look at the future and prevent such a situation," she told PTI.
Yogita Bhayana, a women rights activist who heads People Against Rape in India, said the prime minister spoke about respect for women in his Independence Day address and it is high time that SOPs and systems that have been put in place get implemented well on the ground.
"Action-oriented steps must take place. Even the Nirbhaya case took nine years for justice. A strong message against rape has not been given yet," Bhayana said.
Also, the NCRB report said 45,026 females committed suicide in 2021 in the country, of whom more than half were housewives.
On suicide cases, Poonam Muttreja, Executive Director, Population Foundation of India, said the high proportion of housewives in this data shows the stress on women due to patriarchal social norms, their status in families, and how the pandemic exacerbated these challenges.
"While the COVID-induced lockdowns protected many from the virus, women stuck in abusive relationships faced the brunt of being locked up at home with their abusers."
"Abusive husbands and family members had more time due to fewer or no work hours to oppress vulnerable family members," she said.
According to the National Commission for Women, in 2020-21, the organisation received 26,513 domestic-violence complaints from women, an increase of 25.09 per cent, compared to the 20,309 complaints registered in 2019-20.
Since the pandemic has only exacerbated existing problems, it would be important to work on empowering women by all means, through education, creating economic opportunities and opposing regressive social norms, Muttreja said.
"We also need to reimagine health systems not only in terms of changing policy but also in terms of expansion of services, especially those relating to mental health," she said.