Even though incidents of crimes against children are being reported frequently, the number of complaints on the violation of child rights filed in the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has dropped by more than 87% in the last five years.
The number of fresh complaints filed in the child rights commission has dropped to 61 in 2015 from as many as 498 in 2011, revealed the statistics released by the commission recently.
The commission was established in 2008-09 but it started getting more cases from 2011 onwards, with the introduction of the Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009. In 2008-09, it had received only nine cases and the number increased slightly to 35 in 2010. The commission deals with cases which involve violation of child rights such as child sexual abuse, corporal punishment, child labour and trafficking among others.
Interestingly, with the fall in number of complaints, the number of pending cases with the commission has also reduced, with the commission having zero pending cases to be looked at right now. This has happened for the first time since its inception.
The number of pending cases has dropped from 575 in 2011 to just 80 in 2015. Out of these 80, 15 cases are currently being heard, while reports have been called for 38 cases and the remaining 28 cases have been closed for order. This means that there are zero complaints that have not been addressed by the commission.
Member secretary of the commission, AN Tripathi attributed the trend to increased awareness on child rights and swift disposal of cases by the commission.
“Awareness on child rights has increased recently because of strict penalties or punishments under the new acts such as the RTE act, Juvenile Justice Act and the (POCSOA) Act,” said Tripathi.
However, child rights experts said that besides more awareness, number of cases coming to the commission might have also reduced because of other factors such as less reach in other parts of the state. “Since the commission is based out of Mumbai, people from remote parts of the state find it difficult to approach them,” said Farida Lambay, co-founder, Pratham NGO. “It is true that awareness has increased, but it is also important to see what type of cases are now coming to the commission.” Also the commission has been conducting regular hearings of the cases that are filed with them. “We are short staffed but still we are trying to ensure that we come up with recommendations as soon as possible,” said Tripathi. “We are the only child rights commission in the country to have achieved this.”
In the past, the commission’s recommendations on allowing autistic children to study in the same class as regular children by assigning a shadow teacher and suggestions to ban children under 18 years from participating in dahi handi have been upheld by the Bombay High Court.