The government takes strictest possible action against those involved in child trafficking and has adopted zero tolerance towards child begging, Women and Child Welfare Minister Maneka Gandhi said on Friday.
Gandhi said in Lok Sabha that adequate mechanism is in place to take action against those involved in child trafficking and whenever any suspected incident of child trafficking is reported, her Ministry takes prompt action.
“Action against a hospital in West Bengal was taken at the initiative of the Women and Child Development Ministry after detection of alleged child trafficking incident,” she said during Question Hour.
Her response came after Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury alleged that a large number of children were being trafficked from West Bengal and the state has become a hub of child trafficking, prompting strong protests by state’s ruling TMC members. Gandhi said the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) kept tab of every children being adopted to check their abuse in any manner.
Replying to a supplementary, the Minister said the government has been adopting ‘zero tolerance’ towards child begging and a specific plan in this regard would be in place by next month.
“We have called a meeting on how to check child begging and it will be attended by the police, state governments and other agencies. We will have a specific plan on it by next month,” she said.
The Minister said her Ministry was planning a special month-long programme - ‘zero tolerance’ against child trafficking. Gandhi said special initiatives have also been taken with the help of 700 NGOs to check the incidents of sexual harassment of children. Helplines have been set up to receive complaints of sexual harassment of children and in these helplines, around 4,00,000 telephone calls are received every month.
“We take action on such calls within hours,” she said, adding many of such children are being sexually harassed by the people they know.
Gandhi said strict norms have already been placed to monitor the activities of caretakers of orphanages so that they could not abuse the children under their protection. But it is not practically possible to monitor the acts of caretakers 24X7, she said.