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Worried over the commercial sexual exploitation of children, especially minor girls in the country, Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar today lamented that the issue has not been accorded political priority.
The lawmaker asserted that while efforts by individuals and civil society members were "well-meaning", the menace has assumed such a form that only an "institutional approach" can address it.
Chandrasekhar said the issue has grown to a "massive" proportion due to "years of neglect" by various governments.
At a press conference here, a National Action Plan against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (NAPCSEC) was launched by the Bangalore Rajya Sabha member, in the presence of P M Nair, Chair-Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai.
"While we talk of girls' education and development, the issue of girls' safety and their exploitation have never been made part of the mainstream discussion. Tackling the problem at an individual or NGO level is not enough. One person, one ministry or agency cannot do it.
"And, problem has been that we have not been institutionally organised... And, so we need to create a new architectural framework with a new head, he or she could be a minister, or it could mean empowering the NCPCR," the MP said.
Chandrasekhar said the issue of commercial sexual exploitation of children "has to be a made a political priority".
Asked why he believed that it hasn't been made so thus far, the lawmaker replied, "I think there has been a basic reluctance to accept it as a major problem."
"But, I believe, if we as a society come together and collectively make it an issue, the government will respond," he said.
The NAPCSEC seeks to offer action plans to strike at the "demand side" of the problem of such exploitation, and dry the 'industry' of its 'clients' and 'customers'.
The proposed plan focuses on "chocking demand" by 'customers' by bringing inter-ministerial, inter-departmental and inter-agency convergence.
The action plan has also proposed creation of a national child grid, on the lines of NATGRID for timely arrests and action on offenders.
Nair,a retired IPS officer, said that the need is to keep the 'customer' at the centrality of this proposed framework.
"That is how the demand would be choked. These 'customers' are treated as mere witnesses and that is what needs to change. They should instead be named and shamed," he said.
According to the data provided by the National Coalition for Protection of Children (NCPOC), an initiative by Chandrasekhar, "As per the NCRB, total number of child trafficking cases reported in India in 2015 was 3,490 with an offender conviction report of 14.3 per cent."
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal are among the states from which girls are picked up for prostitution at an early age. Delhi, Mumbai and Goa are some of the places where they end up, living a hellish life, the NCPOC said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)