Mumbai: Day-long consultation at Tata Institute of Social Sciences brought together bureaucrats, academics and students to discuss and suggest policy initiatives that can be taken up by the state of Maharashtra to prevent evil practice. The poor and rural minor girls are often enticed with false promises of better life after marriage. They are not just exploited physically in the name of marriage, but also trafficked and sold in the sex trade or domestic servitude.
“So far, no thorough study has been conducted in Maharashtra showing a nexus between child marriage and human trafficking neither is there any data to prove such a nexus. We believe, such data is however available with organisations working at ground level,” said Adrian Phillips, advocate and spokesperson at Justice and Care. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures show a worrying trend as far as child marriages are concerned. The year 2015 saw 12,243 cases, 2014 saw a slight upward spiral with 12,516 reported cases, while it went up much higher in 2016 with 16,636 reported cases.
“There is a severe lack of reporting when we speak of child marriages and trafficking. There are various kinds of insecurities that cause this practice to thrive, including lack of education, poverty and poor implementation of laws,” said Pravin Ghughe, chairperson, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. “The state should ponder deeply on how to fight this evil practice in 17 of its districts,” he said. The member of Maharashtra State Human Rights Commission MA Sayeed said the conviction rate in child abuse cases are alarmingly low.