Crime against Children on the rise in Odisha since 2017

If statistics with the National Crime Records Bureau are anything to go by, then Odisha is faring worse with every passing year in terms of observed violence against children. Several incidents of brutality against children – including that of the rape and murder of a five-year-old from Nayagarh in July, killing of a minor boy in Dhenkanal on Friday and recovery of a minor girl’s body from a pond earlier this week – point to a deepening crisis when it comes to the safety of children in the state.

While in 2017 only 3,185 cases of violence against children were registered in Odisha, the number of cases soared to 5,217 the next year and further climbed to 7,012 in 2019, as per available records with the NCRB.

Several social workers believe that societal pressure, coupled with low conviction rates has played a major factor in contributing to the rampant surge in such acts of abuse against children. “If we consider the NCRB report, the state’s conviction report in such cases stood at a poor 17.6% in 2019. The convictions that happened in 2019 were related to the cases registered before 2019. The NCRB report showed not a single case of crime against children, registered in 2019, ended in conviction,” Siddharth Das, a senior lawyer said.

Anuradha Mohanty, a child rights activist based in Odisha, said that parents and families need to be more vigilant concerning the safety of their children. Several instances of kidnapping of children for ransom, illicit smuggling, and associated human trafficking cases have also been observed. She said that if the police would improve their supervision from areas where the cases were frequently lodged, it could better the situation to some extent. “We often saw a lack of commitment and professional skills in policemen, mostly in rural areas. SPs and range DIGs or IGs should regularly supervise the investigation into such cases, involving minors going missing and other crimes against them,” Mohanty said.

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