As many as 109 children were sexually abused every day in India in 2018, according to the data by the National Crime Record Bureau, which showed a 22 per cent jump in such cases from the previous year.
According to the recently released NCRB data, 32,608 cases were reported in 2017 while 39,827 cases were reported in 2018 under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO).
POCSO Act, 2012 is a comprehensive law to provide for the protection of children from offences of sexual assault, sexual harassment and pornography. It requires special treatment of cases relating to child sexual abuse such as setting-up of special courts, special prosecutors, and support persons for child victims.
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As many as 21,605 child rapes were recorded in 2018 which included 21,401 rapes of girls and 204 of boys, the data showed.
The highest number of child rapes were recorded in Maharashtra at 2,832 followed by Uttar Pradesh at 2023 and Tamil Nadu at 1457, the data showed.
Overall crimes against children has increased steeply over six times in the decade over 2008-2018, from 22,500 cases recorded in 2008 to 1,41,764 cases in 2018, according to the NCRB data from 2008 and 2018.
In 2017, 1,29,032 cases of crime against children were recorded.
Priti Mahara, Director of Policy Research and Advocacy at CRY - Child Rights and You (CRY) said, that while on the one hand, the increasing numbers of crimes against children are extremely alarming, it also suggests an increasing trend in reporting which is a positive sign as it reflects people's faith in the system.
"It also provides a direction in which government interventions must be made and evidence needs to be created. While some major efforts have been taken to ensure child protection, a lot more is needed to see expected results on the ground," Mahara said.
In percentage terms, major crime against children during 2018 were kidnapping and abduction which accounted for 44.2 per cent followed by cases under POCSO, which accounted for 34.7 per cent, the data showed.
A total of 67,134 children (19,784 male,47,191 female and 159 transgender) were reported missing in 2018. During the year 2018, a total of 71,176 children (22,239 male, 48,787 female and 150 transgender) were traced, the NCRB data said.
As many as 781 cases of use of child for pornography or storing child pornography material was also recorded in 2018, more than double that of 2017 when 331 such cases were recorded, the data showed.
The state-wise segregation of crimes against children reveals Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi and Bihar accounted for 51 per cent of all crimes in the country, the data said.
While Uttar Pradesh tops the list with 19,936 recorded crimes against children (14 per cent of total crimes), Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra are the close second and third with 18,992 and 18,892 crimes registered respectively.
The report also showed that cases of sexual harassment in shelter homes against women and children reportedly increased by 30 per cent, from 544 cases recorded in 2017 to 707 cases in 2018.
Mahara suggested that financial investments must be adequately increased with a focus on prevention of crimes against children and the identification of vulnerable children and families.
"Strengthening community level child protection system is also a key to prevention. While there is growing evidence of the precarious lives that children in India are leading, it is essential that this evidence is used to effectively inform policy and programme initiatives," she said.
As many as 501 incidences were also recorded under The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, a 26 per cent jump from 2017 when 395 cases were reported under the Act.