Other States

Dedicated helpline to prevent child marriages, trafficking in West Bengal

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seen with the State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha. File

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee seen with the State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

State witnessed a spurt in such cases especially after calamities like Cyclone Alia in May 2009.

Anticipating an increase in child marriages and child trafficking in the aftermath of cyclone Amphan, the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights (WBCPCR) has come up with a dedicated helpline and desk to deal with them. “In view of COVID-19 and Amphan’s after effects, both are expected to rise. Hence, the initiative,” said the WBCPCR.

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The notification issued on Tuesday and also displayed on the WBCPCR website has phone numbers where people can reach. The issue of cyclone-affected areas being vulnerable to trafficking was first raised by Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha and Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee in a meeting for restoration and review of Amphan. Mr. Sinha suggested that the Department of Women and Child Development should take preventive steps.

Large parts of south Bengal including the Sunderbans have been severely affected by the cyclone. The South 24 Parganas and particularly the Sunderbans are most vulnerable to child trafficking and a huge number of cases have been reported from the region in the past few years.

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Experts who have worked on child trafficking point out that “after cycle Aila [May 2009] there was a huge spike in the cases of trafficking from the Sunderbans. We then called it the saline curse as saline water had submerged large parts of the area. We have to see that there is no recurrence post Amphan,” said Ajanta Dey, joint secretary of the Nature Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS).

Ms. Dey, who has been working in the Sunderbans for the past few decades, said most of the economic activities like agriculture and betel vines in the Sunderbans have been destroyed during Amphan making people vulnerable to migration and trafficking.

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Printable version | Jul 12, 2020 9:02:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/dedicated-helpline-to-prevent-child-marriages-trafficking-in-west-bengal/article31741387.ece

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