While crime against children seems to be on the rise in the country, child sexual abuse cases have increased steeply in Odisha between 2009 and 2019.
Odisha is positioned 4th in terms of child sexual abuse instances across states in the country. In the last 10 years, cases of child abuse and rape have increased by over 18 times in the State.
Such an unfortunate and alarming revelation came to fore after the Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Irani submitted a written reply in Lok Sabha a few days ago while answering to a question of Congress MP MK Vishnu Prasad over the issue of sexual violence against children in the country.
From the Nayagarh minor girl rape and murder case to Badmal minor girl gang rape case, several such instances have undoubtedly made it quite clear that crime against children are on the rise in the State.
In 2009, a total of 87 child sexual abuse cases were reported in Odisha, and, surprisingly, it increased to 1648 in 2019 (231 and 1417 cases registered under child rape and POCSO Act respectively).
A cursory glance at the data on child sex abuse cases reported across the country, which was shared by the Union Minister, reveals that 31,132 cases were reported in 2019 against 5368 in 2009- a five times rise in a decade. It clearly states that crimes against children have increased in Odisha more than the national average.
Child rights activists are of the view that the increasing use of mobile phones and internet facilities have contributed majorly for the rise in the crimes against children.
"Children now-a-days are spending more time on mobile phones and have easy access to Internet and television. All these are driving them towards wrong things and increasing the risk of child sexual abuse," said Jayshree Mohapatra, child rights activist.
Sandhyabati Pradhan, chairperson of Odisha State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said, "We have requested Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to consider setting up of special police stations alike the Mahila Police Stations across the State for children. If the CM gives his nod to the proposal, I think it will help put a tab on the increasing number of crimes against children."