Mumbai: Social Activist, Politician and Fashion Designer, Ms.Shaina NC under the aegis of her NGOs, Giants International and I Love Mumbai, held a detailed deliberation with the media and other experts in Mumbai to develop a Maharashtra specific strategy focusing on curbing the growing demand of children for commercial sexual exploitation in the state, by stressing on the need for strict laws to punish ‘customers’ who pay to sexually exploit children.
Experts from the civil society, medical fraternity, the law enforcement and the judiciary participated in the deliberations, which included, Dr. P M Nair, Chair-Professor, TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences), Ms. Roshan Dalvi, former Bombay High Court Judge and Dr. Nikhil Datar, Consultant Gynecologist Nanawati Hospital & Cloudnine group hospitals and noted health right activist.
The need for such a focus on the issue was brought about by the impunity with which these predators, referred to as ‘customers’,get away with minimal punishment even though they are the ones committing the exploitation. There is also a growing worry that Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, has now become more clandestine in Maharashtra where the ‘business’ has now moved into residential areas, orphanages, beer bars, hotels and lodges. These people who buy sex from children are not arrested because the investigation focus is always on brothel managers and not on customers. Thus, the men who sexually violate children are shown as witness, rather than perpetrators, offering them an easy escape allowing this dastardly act to perpetuate.
To garner further support for the cause, Ms. Shaina NC has launched a petition on Change.org which received over 110,000 signatures in the last 8 days. Using these appeals coming in from across the country, she will call on the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Sh. Devendra Fadnavis, with recommended actionable measures, to rapidly curtail this heinous crime.
To this effect, Ms. Shaina NC stated, “Commercial Sexual Exploitation of children is a demand driven business that exploits kids, teenagers, mostly young girls, and an unholy nexus of “clients” and the enablers, handlers, traffickers, conspirators, financers, pimps and others.It is disheartening that the real perpetrators are called “customers” of such heinous sexual exploitation. Demand for CSEoC needs to be choked by punishing these criminals.” Speaking on what needs to be done to curb this menace, one of the suggestions she mentioned was, “Creation of an Anti-Child Predator Squad with Anti Human Trafficking Units in hotspots with a special coordination cell at district headquarters are some initiatives that can be taken up at the institutional level. We need to ensure that the Anti-Child Predator Squad is sufficiently staffed and equipped with technology and resources to proactively identify these men seeking paid sexual engagement despite being aware about the minor-age of the child being on offering.”
During the deliberations, the heart wrenching experiences retold by actual survivors who were pushed into prostitution as children. They urgedthe experts to propose stronger measures and strike a strong blow at the ‘demand side’ of the problem, by drying the ‘industry’ of its ‘clients’ and ‘customers’. It was also felt that to tackle the issue, there is an urgent need for the law enforcement agencies to exercise proactive child-sensitive policing, prompt filing of FIRs and thorough and impartial investigation.
Commenting on the deliberations, Chair Professor, TISS, Dr. PM Nair said, “While we have existing provision under the law (ITPA, IPC sections), there is a need to have these very ‘customers’ punished and to enforce effective deterrents be brought up against the demand aspect. Such heinous acts of commercial sexual exploitation amount to serial rape of innocent children. Therefore, there is a need to curtail such business enterprise existing in the market and enforce stringent measures in the state of Maharashtra.”