NCRB to track complaints on sexual violence

A high-level meeting was convened on Tuesday to discuss recommendations on ways to curb “sexual violence” videos involving women and children.

Outcomes of the meeting:

It was decided in the meeting that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) would be the designated nodal agency for monitoring the complaints received on a government portal that records child pornography and sexual violence videos.

The NCRB would coordinate with service providers such as Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp and ask them to block malicious videos and contents.

NCRB is only a crime record agency. Therefore, a government notification has been issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000 to enable it to take action against such videos. Now, whenever such incidents are reported, it can write to service providers and ask them to block the content.

NCRB is the Nodal Agency for the authentic source of Data on crime, accidents, suicides, and prisons for policy matters and research.

It was set-up in 1986 to function as a repository of information on crime and criminals so as to assist the investigators in linking crime to the perpetrators.

It was set up based on the recommendations of the National Police Commission (1977-1981) and the MHA’s Taskforce (1985).

It was set up by merging the Directorate of Coordination and Police Computer (DCPC), Inter-State Criminals Data Branch of CBI, Central Finger Print Bureau of CBI, and Statistical Branch of BPR&D.

Important functions:

Bureau is implementing & monitoring agency for implementation of Crime & Criminal Tracking Network System (CCTNS), a Mission Mode Project under the National e-Governance Plan of Government of India. The project aims at creating a comprehensive and integrated system for enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in the country.

NCRB also imparts training in Information Technology (IT) and Finger Print Science for Indian Police Officers as well Foreign Police officers. Central fingerprint bureau is under the administrative control of NCRB.

NCRB publishes 4 annual publications on Crime, Accidental Deaths & Suicides, Prison Statistics and Finger Prints. These publications serve as principal reference points on crime statistics, not only police officers but also for criminologists, researchers, media, and policymakers not only in India but abroad well.

In 2015, as many as 34,651 cases of rape were registered. The number increased to 38,947 in 2016. Overall crimes against women rose from 3,29,243 in 2015 to 3,38,954 in 2016, according to the NCRB data.

A majority of cases categorised as crimes against women were reported under “cruelty by husband or his relatives” (32.6 per cent), followed by “assault on woman with intent to outrage her modesty” (25 per cent), “kidnapping and abduction of women” (19 per cent) and “rape” (11.5 per cent).

The highest number of rapes have been reported from Madhya Pradesh (4,882), followed by Uttar Pradesh (4,816) and Maharashtra (4,189) in 2016, according to the NCRB data.

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Mamata lifts income ceiling for Kanyashree scheme

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced that there would not be any ceiling for a family’s annual earnings to be a beneficiary under the UN award-winning Kanyashree scheme.

The state government would also be coming up with a “Kanyashree University” for girls soon.

Kanyashree is a conditional cash transfer scheme aiming at improving the status and well being of the girl child by incentivizing schooling of teenage girls and delaying their marriages until the age of 18. It received the United Nations Public Service Award last year.

Through the initiative, cash was deposited into the bank account of girls for every year they remained in school and were unmarried. This initiative led to a “drastic reduction in child marriage, the increase in female education and female empowerment.”

The UN Public Service Awards are given by the world body to institutions from across the world for their innovation and excellence in providing public services.

It highlights the pivotal role of public services in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Awards aim at discovering innovations in governance; reward excellence in the public sector; motivate public servants to further promote innovation; enhance professionalism in the public service; raise the image of public service; enhance trust in government, and collect and disseminate successful practices for possible replication.

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Cabinet approves proposal to make DMs approving authority for adoptions

The Union Cabinet today gave its nod to a proposal to make district magistrates, instead of courts, the final authority for approving adoptions.

Since courts are overburdened and take a long time to approve adoptions, the district magistrates would now be the approving authority, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, said.

District magistrates are in-charge of the child custody authority and have all the information about the child. The Cabinet has decided to make the district magistrates the (final) authority to sign the adoption order, he said.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi had said that the ministry was going to amend the Juvenile Justice (JJ) Act to make district magistrates and collectors “competent officers” for approving adoptions, instead of courts.

The move aims to reduce the number of adoption cases pending in courts for years and since the DMs also have information about the adoption cases and have access to all the departments, it would be easier for them to get the documents and act faster, a senior WCD ministry official said.

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Activists oppose draft anti-trafficking Bill

The proposed anti-trafficking Bill likely to be tabled in Parliament during the Monsoon Session will criminalize sex workers and transgenders, according to activists who have appealed to parliamentarians that the draft legislation is sent to the Standing Committee.

Features of Bill:

It takes into consideration aggravated forms of trafficking. It includes trafficking for purpose of forced labor, begging, trafficking of a woman or child for the purpose of marriage or under the pretext of marriage or after marriage, trafficking by administering chemical substance or hormones on a person for the purpose of early sexual maturity etc

It prescribes punishment for promoting and facilitating the trafficking of a person. It includes producing, printing, issuing or distributing unissued, tampered or fake certificates, registration or stickers as proof of compliance with Government requirements or commits fraud for procuring or facilitating the acquisition of clearances and necessary documents from Government agencies.

It deals with the confidentiality of victims and witnesses and complainants by not disclosing their identity. It will be maintained by recording their statement through video conferencing (it will help trans-border and inter-State crimes).

It has provision for time-bound trial and repatriation of the victims. It will be within a period of 1 year from taking into cognizance. It provides immediate protection of rescued victims and their rehabilitation. The victims will be entitled to interim relief immediately within 30 days to address their physical, mental trauma etc. and further appropriate relief within 60 days from the date of filing of charge sheet.

It creates dedicated institutional mechanisms at District, State, and Central level. They will be responsible for prevention, protection, investigation and rehabilitation work related to trafficking. The tasks of Anti-Trafficking Bureau at the national level will be performed by National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The punishment prescribed under it ranges from rigorous minimum 10 years to life and fine not less than Rs. 1 lakh. In order to break the organized nexus, both at the national and international level, it mandates for attachment & forfeiture of property and also proceeds for the crime.

It comprehensively addresses the transnational nature of the crime. It entrusts National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB) to perform functions of international coordination with authorities in foreign countries and international organizations.

Many have spoken out against the devastating effects that the new bill could have on several stakeholders which include marginalized groups such as children, the trans community, and consenting sex-workers. In fact, it is claimed that the bill is essentially nothing but a veiled attempt to further criminalize sex work.

The new bill includes a clause that makes the transmission or even exposure to HIV in an instance of trafficking among one of the ‘Aggravated Offences’. This would have a grave impact on those suffering from HIV.

Consenting sex workers will be severely hit by the bill. The sex workers’ community which is one of the biggest stakeholders in anti-trafficking legislation has not been consulted before the drafting of this bill.

The bill makes giving chemicals or hormones to another for their accelerated sexual maturity an “aggravated offense”, a clause that leaves the trans-community in a lurch.

The new bill also includes child victims of trafficking. Child rights activists have raised concerns about the proposed ‘rehabilitation’ of children by institutionalizing them, a practice which has often faced international censure.

More than 300,000 children went missing in the country between 2012 and 2017, government data shows. Around 100,000 are yet to be traced and it is feared that many of them could have been trafficked.

In 2016, for instance, 111,569 children were reported missing. Of these, 55,944 children were traced but only 8,132 trafficking cases were reported. Many of these children are victims of modern slavery — forced into prostitution, labor or domestic work.

They are also used as drug mules and even given up for adoption illegally. Poverty and lack of opportunity also push a lot of young women, especially from the interior parts of West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand, into prostitution.

Despite the enormity of the problem, India lacks a single comprehensive law for human trafficking. At present, trafficking is covered under half-a-dozen laws resulting in confusion and poor enforcement.

The new law will make India a leader among South Asian countries to combat trafficking. Trafficking is a global concern also affecting a number of South Asian nations. Amongst them, India is now a pioneer in formulating a comprehensive legislation. UNODC and SAARC nations are looking forward to India to take lead by enacting this law.

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Govt child rights body to recommend 10% cap on fee hike in private schools

Bringing relief to parents beset by frequent and arbitrary increases in school fees, a government commission is likely to suggest a 10% yearly cap on the fee hike permissible by private, unaided schools, with provisions for penalties in case of violations, two officials familiar with the development said.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), a statutory body, is in the process of making a recommendation to that effect to the human resource development (HRD) ministry, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Although fixing school fees is the domain of state governments, in the absence of a standard fee policy for unaided schools, there has been a growing clamor for central regulations.

India has 3,50,000 private, unaided schools — 24% of all schools — where 75 million children, or 38% of all students, study. Such schools do not receive any grant from the government and have to generate their own revenue for sustenance.

Many cities across India have of late seen parents protest arbitrary fee hikes by such schools. In Delhi and Mumbai, for instance, the fee hike in private, unaided schools in last year varied between 10 % and 40 %.

Inundated with complaints from parents, NCPCR, the country’s apex child rights body, has drafted regulations to put in place a uniform fee framework for unaided private schools. It will propose setting up a district fee regulatory authority in states to monitor school fee increases.

The draft regulations will also suggest a formula for determining fees, based on a school’s location, costs incurred, revenue earned, student strength, and other parameters. “We will send the draft regulation to HRD ministry shortly for action,” said a senior NCPCR official.

The framework:

The framework is for private unaided schools – which are 23% of the total schools in India and cater to 36% of the total population of children attending school.

The framework is a model document that may be recommended to states where the fee regulation mechanism does not work effectively.

According to the draft regulations, if a school violates the norms provided in the uniform fee framework, the respective government can bar the school from taking new admissions for the next academic year or impose a fine equivalent to 10% of the total revenue generated by the school or society or trust in the preceding year.

Recommendations:

A 10% yearly cap on fee hike in private, unaided schools.

Set up a district fee regulatory authority in states to monitor school fee increases.

About NCPCR:

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) was set up in March 2007 under the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005.

It works under the administrative control of the Ministry of Women & Child Development.

The Child is defined as a person in the 0 to 18 years age group.

The Commission’s Mandate is to ensure that all Laws, Policies, Programmes, and Administrative Mechanisms are in consonance with the Child Rights perspective as enshrined in the Constitution of India and also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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