Child rights bodies welcome setting up of more anti-trafficking units

Uzmi Athar

New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Child rights bodies on Tuesday welcomed Union Minister Smriti Irani's announcement that women help desks will be set up in police stations across the country and more anti-human trafficking units established in all districts.

Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation (KSCF) spokesperson Niharika Chopra said more traffickers could be brought under the law by increasing the number of anti-human trafficking units.

India had 261 anti-human trafficking units till April 2017 but according to the Crime in India Report for that year released by National Crime Records Bureau that there is a decline in number of such cases registered across the country.

'With the current set of 261 AHTUs only 2,854 cases of trafficking were registered in 2017. These AHTUs are also unable to focus on trafficking cases, due to overburden of other cases handled by the police force.

'By increasing the number of AHTUs, the Indian government has demonstrated its commitment to bringing more traffickers to book, and to prosecute them in a timely manner,' she said.

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani had on Saturday said that anti-human trafficking units would be established in all districts and women help desks set up in police stations across the country using the Nirbhaya fund.

She said the move aims to strengthen women safety and instil a greater sense of security among them.

In its reaction, 'Save the Children' said, 'It would be beneficial if the fund could also strengthen the special juvenile police unit and put in place Child Welfare Office as envisaged in Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act, 2015.' 'Additionally, it will be important to pass a strong legislation on Anti-Human Trafficking (Trafficking of Persons Bill, that has been pending in Parliament), which looks at all aspects of prevention, protection and rehabilitation,' it added.

Priti Mahara, Director (policy research and advocacy group), Child Rights and You (CRY), said if implemented with due priority and effectiveness, the announcements may help address the issues of kidnapping, abduction, trafficking, rape and other crimes against women and girl children in a sustainable manner.

'We also do hope that all initiatives within the ambit of ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme) work to their full potential so that children's safety issues get due importance and are fully addressed,' she said.

'However, to optimize effectiveness of these units, the Govt. will have to integrate them into the existing ICPS structure, and will have to ensure that these units will act not just as responsive mechanisms, but as preemptive and preventive support systems within the ambit of the ICPS,' she said.

She further said that the other question remains is, whether the current fund will be sufficient to build the new structures with necessary human resources and train them adequately.

'To ensure that these units work successfully, adequate budgetary allocations is of utmost importance,' she added.

The Nirbhaya Fund was announced by the Centre in 2013 after the sensational December 16, 2012 gangrape-and-murder case in the national capital. Its aim was to support initiatives of the government and the NGOs working towards the safety of women. PTI UZM TIR