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Massive Spike in Child Trafficking and Child Marriages Post the Lockdown

Shristi Biswas

19th October 2020

According to the BBC, India's coronavirus lockdown has harmed children's growth and well-being with rising child marriage and child labour incidents each passing day. India has the largest child population in the world with a sum of 472 million children, and the lockdown has impacted the lives of 40 million of them belonging from economically backward families, which comprises of those working in farms and fields in rural areas, as well as children who work as rag pickers or sell balloons in cities.

Rise in Child Trafficking post lockdown (Source: DNA India)

A 24×7 emergency helpline number for children provided by the Indian government has witnessed an increase in daily calls post the lockdown. In the initial days of the shutdown, Childline India Foundation's number received about 30 lakh calls against a weekly average of 20 lakh relating to child abuse, violence against children, and cases of a runaway or missing children. A total of 32,700 cases were reported of trafficking, child marriage, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, begging, and cybercrime between April and August as per the data logged by National Childline 1098.

The nationwide lockdown resulted in migrant workers returning to their villages with their children on cycles, buses, trucks, and trains, many even walking hundreds of miles. More than 10 million of these migrant workers returned to their hometowns during the lockdown because of their work loss. Parents of young girls incapable of bearing the financial load are marrying their daughters off to ensure their well-being. Another possible reason for getting their daughters married in the lockdown is that it is comparatively cheaper. They could get away with inviting few people, according to the assistant commissioner for Women and Child Welfare in Maharashtra State, Manisha Birthe.

As a result, the Union Home Ministry issued an appeal to states that children can easily be tricked by culprits who take advantage of their emotional disbalance and missing support system. The victims fall prey to several sorts of unjust treatment like forced prostitution, forced labour, forced marriages as stated by The Indian Express. Although government guidelines made it mandatory that at least 50 per cent of police districts in each state should have Anti-Human Trafficking Units, several states, such as UP and Maharashtra, have fallen short.

(Sources: Indian Express, BBC, Childline India)

Edited by: Keyuri

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