Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Why governments must address child marriage to achieve quality education for girls

What’s at stake?
Child marriage undermines efforts to improve girls’ education. Unless we address it, we will not make progress on global education goals such as Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4. At the same time, keeping girls in school is a critical strategy in preventing child marriage.  
·         Child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, and religions. Every  year, 15 million girls are married before the age of 18. If there is no reduction in the practice, the global number of women married as children will reach 1.2 billion by 2050.  
·         Child marriage usually means an end to formal education for girls. They tend to drop out of school before marriage or shortly after when marital or domestic demands increase.  
·         More girls than ever before are getting an education. But progress continues to stall in some of the poorest countries. There are over 130 million girls out of school. The majority of those girls live in sub-Saharan Africa, and Central & Southern Asia where the rates of child marriage are highest[1]
·         Child marriage reduces girls’ expected earnings in adulthood by 9%. In a 2017 report, The World Bank estimates that in 15 countries, if women had not married early, the gains in earnings and productivity would have been $26 billion[2].
·         By ending child marriage, governments in 18 sample countries could save up to $17 billion per  year by 2030 just from the savings related to providing public education[3]
·         Educated girls are less likely to marry: girls with secondary or higher education are three times less likely to marry by 18 than those with no education[4]  
·         Children of educated mothers have higher survival rates and are more likely to stay in school[5]
What must governments do?
To improve girls’ education, governments must address child marriage and the social norms that keep girls out of school.  
·         Develop and implement gender-responsive education plans which target and prioritise girls at risk of child marriage and married girls.  
·         Invest technical and financial resources in strategies which prevent child marriage and support married girls.  
·         Track progress on the SDGs: monitor and publish married and unmarried girls’ access to, and engagement in, education on a national level. This will highlight progress as well as areas for improvement.  
·         Encourage, lead and champion cross-government strategies to end child marriage.
What education strategies can help prevent child marriage and support married girls?
The good news is that there is a lot of evidence on interventions which help keep girls in school and avoid school dropout and child marriage.
1.       Ensure girls’ access to primary and secondary education
·         Guarantee access to free, compulsory primary and free / low-cost secondary education for· all girls and boys, including married girls.
2.       Ensure girls’ safety within and on the way to school  
·         Support initiatives to increase girls’ physical accessibility to school. Build schools in remote and rural areas. Provide safe and affordable transportation to school by working with education, transport and infrastructure sectors.  
·         Establish mechanisms for reporting violence in school, and make girls aware of them.
·         Train teachers on non-violent teaching methods and being gender-sensitive, provide safe spaces for girls, both those at risk of child marriage and married girls, at school.
3.       Improve quality and relevance of education for girls, and create girl-friendly environments within schools  
·         Ensure education is relevant to girls and advances their knowledge and life skills.
·         Include comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education in school curricula. It should explicitly address girls’ rights and gender inequality.  
·         Provide girls with access to safe, private toilets and sanitation facilities to manage their  menstrual hygiene in school (working with education, water, sanitation and hygiene sectors). Train girls in menstrual hygiene management and distribute sanitary towels.  
·         Develop strong recruitment and retention strategies for teachers, particularly female teachers, and invest in teacher training.
4.       Develop retention strategies  
·         Provide incentives for families to keep girls in school, offering scholarships and stipends, subsidising or eliminating costs of uniforms, exams, and textbooks.  
·         Support initiatives to increase the value of girls’ education, which inform parents and communities of the benefits of girls attending school, bust myths and raise awareness of the links between education and future employment.  
·         Develop life skills programmes for married girls through targeted outreach and support programmes. Initiate evening or part-time formal schooling and vocational training opportunities, and follow up with students who drop out of school (working with education, employment and livelihoods sectors).  
·         End discriminatory policies and practice of excluding pregnant girls or married girls from school. Offer flexible schedules, provide childcare, and change the attitudes of teachers and parents through community dialogue.
GAA (Girls Advocacy alliance) is a national partnership of more than 275 civil society organisations in the both Andhra & Telangana states committed to ending child marriages & Child Trafficking and enabling girls to fulfil their potential. Find out more at GAA Social Media:  Twitter ,

[1] UNESCO, Reducing global poverty through universal primary and secondary education, Policy Paper 32 / Fact Sheet 44, 2017
[2] World Bank and International Center for Research on Women, The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Brief, 2017
[3] World Bank and International Center for Research on Women, The Economic Impacts of Child Marriage: Global Synthesis Brief, 2017
[4] UNFPA, Marrying Too Young: End Child Marriage, 2012
[5] Girls Not Brides and ICRW, Taking action to address child marriage: the role of different sectors: education, 2016

Monday, 22 January 2018

Bengal Most Unsafe For Women Shows Latest Crime Records Bureau Data

Of the total 15,379 victims in these cases, 58 % were below the age of 18 years, according to the latest NCRB statistics on crime released for 2016.
NEW DELHI: More than 8,000 cases of human trafficking were reported in India in 2016, while 23,000 victims, including 182 foreigners, were rescued during the year, according to National Crime Records Bureau data.
Last year, a total of 8,132 cases were reported from across the country compared to the 6,877 cases in 2015. Of the total 15,379 victims in these cases, 58 % were below the age of 18 years, according to the latest NCRB statistics on crime released for 2016.
West Bengal topped the list in reported cases of human trafficking at 3,579, accounting for 44 % of total cases in the country. The state had reported 1,255 such cases in 2015, when it ranked second only to Assam.
Assam reported 91 cases of human trafficking in 2016, witnessing a drastic reduction since 2015 when it ranked first in the country with 1,494 such incidents. Rajasthan with 1,422 cases was second on the list for reported human trafficking incidents in 2016, followed by Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. In 2015, Rajasthan had reported 131 cases of human trafficking while Gujarat had registered 47. Delhi is 14th in this list for 2016 with 66 reported cases of human trafficking, down from 87 such cases in 2015.
According to the rate of crime (cases reported per one lakh population), West Bengal retained the first position in 2016 followed by Union Territories Daman and Diu and Goa. Daman and Diu otherwise ranks 24, while Goa 18.
A total 23,117 human trafficking victims were rescued during 2016, with the police saving, on an average, 63 people a day. While 22,932 of those rescued were Indian citizens, 38 were Sri Lankans and as many Nepalis.
Thirty three of the foreigners rescued were identified as Bangladeshis, while 73 from 'other countries', including Thailand and Uzbekistan, the NCRB data stated.
COMMENTSAs many as 14,183 of the victims rescued in 2016 were below the age of 18 years, the report said.
Human trafficking, prohibited under Article 23 (1) of the Constitution, includes forced labour, sexual exploitation or prostitution, domestic servitude, forced marriage, begging, adoption, child pornography and organ transplant

Status on child marriages

India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 47% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday.
The rates of child marriage vary between states and are as high as 69% and 65% in Bihar and Rajasthan.
While fewer Indian girls are marrying before the age of 15, rates of marriage have increased for girls between ages 15 to 18.
In many communities girls are seen as an economic burden and marriage transfers the responsibility to her new husband. Poverty and marriage expenses such as dowry may lead a family to marry off their daughter at a young age to reduce these costs.
Patriarchy, class and caste influence the norms and expectations around the role of women and girls in India. In many communities restrictive norms limit girls to the role of daughter, wife and mother who are first seen as the property of her father and then of her husband.
Controlling girls and women’s sexuality is an influential factor in the practice of child marriage too. Pressure towards early marriage aims to minimise the dishonour associated with improper female sexual conduct, often leading to marriages arranged around the time of puberty.
Poor educational opportunities for girls, especially in rural areas, also increase girls’ vulnerability to child marriage.
The legal age for marriage is 18 for women, 21 for men, according to the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act (PCMA) of 2006.
The PCMA establishes punishments for those who do not prevent child marriages and creates Child Marriage Prohibition Officers. It includes a right to annul marriage if underage, but this relies on families to report the act.
A National Action Plan to prevent child marriages was drafted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2013, however, it has not yet been finalised.
The Government has used cash incentives (such as the Dhan Laxmi scheme and the Apni beti apna dhun programme), adolescents’ empowerment programmes (Kishori Shakti Yojana) and awareness-raising to induce behaviour change.
India is a member of the South Asian Initiative to End Violence Against Children (SAIEVAC), which adopted a regional action plan to end child marriage. The regional action plan is to be implemented in 2015 – 2018

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Crime against children rose 500% since 2006

CRY analysis of NCRB data for last decade shows sharper increase between 2012 and 2016

Crimes against children have increased by 500% in the past decade, according to a cumulative analysis done by Child Rights and You (CRY) on the basis of data released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) every year.
The CRY report indicates that children are increasingly being exposed to crimes, resulting in an exponential increase in the crime rate.
Komal Ganotra, director, policy and advocacy, at CRY, said that the analysis shows a sharper rate of increase between 2012 and 2016 than in the 2006-2011 period.
According to CRY, 18,967 crimes were reported in 2006, while 1,06,958 incidents were reported in 2016 — an increase of 500%. Kidnapping and abduction top the crime chart, followed by child rape.
The report also indicates a steady upward trend in crime against children since 2015, with an increase of more than 11%, the highest ever. In 2015, the number of crimes reported was 94,172, and the number went up by 12,786 in 2016.
“The more unfortunate truth is that the trend has worsened this year, indicating our failure to address the age-old issue. It’s time we ensure a more robust protective environment for children,” Ms. Ganotra said.
There were 52,253 (48.9%) cases of kidnapping and abduction in 2016. Rape cases constitute more than 18% of the crime cases, when separated from the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. Crimes reported under the POCSO Act constitute around 4%.
Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number of kidnapping and abduction cases and crimes under the POCSO Act, followed by Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Incidents of crime in Maharashtra have increased from 2,841 to 14,559 between 2006 and 2016.
“These statistics are a grim reminder of the fact that we do not have proper prevention mechanisms to address the issue of child protection, nor are we keen on building more empathetic understanding and intervention plans adequately backed up by sustained investment on child security,” Ms. Ganotra said.

Child trafficking: Panel seeks report on conditions in houses of three women

They were among the four who had established parentage through DNA tests

The newly appointed Child Welfare Committee (CWC) of Mysuru district has sought a social investigation report (SIR) on the living conditions in the houses of the mothers of three trafficked children.
Four women had managed to establish their parentage through DNA tests and the outgoing CWC had already handed over custody of an 18-month-old child to her mother following a High Court order.
“We have asked the District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) to submit a SIR regarding the remaining three women and facilitate us to take a decision on handing over their children,” Kamalamma, chairperson of the new CWC of Mysuru, told The Hindu .
The report will help the CWC study the living conditions in the houses so that the economic, social and physical security of the child can be assured, said E. Dhananjaya, member of the CWC. More than a year ago, the Mysuru district police claimed to have busted a child trafficking racket involving the sale of infants born to unwed mothers in two private maternity homes in the city. The four women included Parvathi, an alms seeker from Nanjangud, who had lodged a complaint with the police that her child had been abducted in April last year.
Superintendent of Government Home for Boys in Mysuru, Kumaraswamy, who is also the in-charge DCPO, told The Hindu that the officials had arranged a rented house for Parvathi to facilitate her to take custody of her child. “We are awaiting a rent agreement, which will have to be submitted to the CWC,” he said.
The report regarding the other two women is also being prepared, he said.
He said the CWC will be the final authority to take a decision on handing over the custody of the children.
The three children are presently housed in Janapada Trust in Melkote and Vikasana in Mandya.
The women have been given visitation rights to meet their children, CWC sources added.

Open trafficking- news item

Open trafficking

JANUARY 17, 2018 00:00 IST
UPDATED: JANUARY 17, 2018 03:38 IST

Employment opportunities should be created in Nepal to prevent cross-border trafficking between Nepal and India

Following the 2015 Nepal earthquake, the Ministry of Home Affairs said that human trafficking from Nepal to India witnessed “a three-fold jump”. The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) reported that most of the victims were minors, with girls and boys in equal numbers, and many were from the earthquake-affected districts of Nepal. In Dhangadhi and Rupandehi districts of Nepal, representatives of NGOs working on human trafficking said that quake-affected Sindhupalchowck district was among the key source districts for cross-border trafficking to India. A large number of women from this district left the country after the earthquake to find employment abroad, either through Rasuwagadhi or some other transit point along the India-Nepal border, said Asha from an NGO. “The destination countries for most of them were Kyrgyzstan, Israel, West Asia, and India. Many have also left for Kathmandu,” she said.
But identifying cases of human trafficking is not easy. Pancha Kumar Bakhu, who is Inspector, Area Police Office, Barabise in Sindhupalchowk, said: “No case of human trafficking has been registered since 2015, but ‘love affair’ (elopement) cases have been registered.” It is often difficult to identify a human trafficking case at the source since the victim may have been lured through the false promise of marriage or a job, said advocate Adrian Phillips from Justice and Care, an NGO that works on human trafficking.
The Indo-Nepal Treaty of Peace and Friendship, 1950 provides for an open border between Nepal and India. At the Gauriphanta border in Lakhimpur Kheri district and Sanuali border in Maharajganj district of U.P. bordering Nepal, I discovered how easy it was to cross over to Nepal. An official from SSB at Gauriphanta, which guards the Indian side of the border, said that those entering India are not stopped, but “those with luggage are stopped and questioned.” As I crossed over to Dhangadi in Nepal from Gauriphanta, an official from the Armed Police Force, which guards the Nepali side, said that individuals are stopped on the basis of “suspicion, intelligence or information from family members or relatives.” The SSB also profiles victims and suspects.
Closing the border may prevent cross-border trafficking, but it could also engender or accentuate economic vulnerabilities for those who have jobs or own businesses along the border. Poverty and unemployment in Sindhupalchowck have left young people vulnerable to internal and cross-border trafficking through the Rasuwagadi-Kerung border. It is imperative to create economic opportunities, particularly for the youth, within the country. Further, the Nepal-India border needs to be equipped with enhanced intelligence networks and effective monitoring mechanisms.
Meha Dixit has a PhD in International Politics from JNU and has taught at Kashmir University

Attach properties of those involved in human trafficking, frame law to ban begging: Uttarakhand HC to govt

NAINITAL: Taking a strict stand on 'rampant human trafficking in the state', Uttarakhand high court (HC) on Thursday asked police officials to "invoke provisions of the Money Laundering Act, 2008 against the persons who are involved in human trafficking, and also attach their properties." The division bench of justices Rajiv Sharma and Alok Singh while hearing an appeal against acquittal of a man who was charged with trafficking a girl from Nepal. also asked the state government to "carry out a verification of children, particularly minor girls and women coming to India from Nepal and counsel them properly."
The court also cited a TOI story 'Government sitting on 'secret' report on national, global trafficking racket in Uttarkhand' which was published on December 5, and directed the state government to "constitute a special investigation Team (SIT), if not already constituted, headed by a senior superintendent of police to investigate the matter within four weeks and to register FIRs against the persons, who were/are involved in human trafficking of boys/girls from shelter homes (as mentioned in the report)." The judges further recommended to the central government to "frame laws based on the model law against trafficking in persons, as drafted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in relation to trafficking, victim and witness protection."
In another significant direction to curb begging on the streets, the HC asked the Uttarakhand government to "ban begging throughout the state by bringing a suitable legislation on the analogy of the UttarPradesh Prohibition of Beggary Act, 1975." Pointing out that "minors are often kidnapped by organised gangs to force them into beggary", the court directed the police department "to conduct DNAs of the parents as well as of the children of the beggars to ensure that the children found in their company are their own children."
Further, the court directed that all the anti-human trafficking units in Uttarakhand "must be headed by a person not below the rank of DSP/CO, and have one inspector, two sub-inspectors, three ASI and 10-15 constables and 50% of these officers should be sensitized women"
Among other directions given by the court were setting up of a photo bank to trace missing children and to display the data on an official website. In order to ensure the safety of the victims of human trafficking, the bench directed the state government to "provide safe and proper accommodation and basic health care to them." The HC also added that the trial of such cases should be held in camera and the state should also involve gram panchayats at the grass-root level to trace missing children.