Online petition seeks formation of anti-child predator squad
Prateebha was just 13 years old when she was sold to a brothel by her uncle, after her parents’ untimely death. She was given hormone injections so her body developed like an older girl’s, to push her into prostitution
Prateebha was just 13 years old when she was sold to a brothel by her uncle, after her parents' untimely death. She was given hormone injections so her body developed like an older girl's, to push her into prostitution. Another girl, Firooza, who was 14 then, was given sedatives by those who ran the brothel each time she was sexually exploited.
Shaina NC with Roshan Dalvi, Dr P M Nair and others at the event yesterday. Pic/ Sayyed Sameer Abedi
Such heart-wrenching stories were shared by survivors of human trafficking at an event yesterday. An online petition titled #AntiChildPredatorSquad has been started in their support, demanding the formation of a squad, which will focus on identifying and catching persons seeking paid sexual engagement from minors. Some survivors and NGOs helping in these children's rescue and rehabilitation came together yesterday with anti-human trafficking experts and politician Shaina NC, who has started the online petition on change.org. While the petition has already grossed more than 1.10 lakh signatures of support in just one week, the committee behind it further plans to create a State Action Plan to appeal to the chief minister to strengthen the existing laws against child trafficking and sexual abuse. The committee includes experts from civil society, the medical fraternity, the law enforcement and judiciary, along with Shaina NC.
According to experts, there is growing worry that commercial sexual exploitation of children has now become more rampant, but is completely undercover in Maharashtra. Dr P M Nair, chair professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), said, "Of all the cases where children are sexually exploited, 75 per cent do not even reach the police. In the cases reported under Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, only five per cent offenders are convicted. People who buy sex from children are not arrested because the investigation's focus is always on brothel managers. Thus the men who sexually violate children are shown as witnesses, rather than perpetrators."
Roshan Dalvi, former Bombay High Court judge, who has handled such cases, pointed out the easy bail option. Taking several such points into consideration, a committee of experts is designing a 'State Action Plan which will be sent to the CM.
Shaina NC said, "The Maharashtra government has made Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs), which look at the rescue and rehabilitation of such children. But, hardly any men who pay for sex with children have been arrested. We will appeal to the Maharashtra CM to direct the state police to make it their mandate to arrest these predators."
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