Hyderabad: When it comes to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, issue of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children has always been conflated with adult prostitution at large, no distinction has been made between the two as there is no law to differentiate them, said Roop Sen, researcher on trafficking and migration at a media training workshop on child sex trafficking organised by Change.org and The News Minute (TNM) on Friday in Hyderabad. Telangana doesn’t have a serious child prostitution problem, going by the low number of registered cases, according to data from the National Crime Records Bureau.
However, police officers who were interviewed by the media reported that in 2016, 42 customers were arrested and in 2017, 76 customers were arrested. This indicates poor reporting of cases of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEoC) in Telangana. “Lack of accountability to the Ministry of Home Affairs indicates that CSEoC is not an issue of priority. Information and intelligence on CSEoC needs to be developed with cooperation from NGOs, media and the community without which it is difficult to penetrate the clandestine highly organised network of criminals,” Mr Sen said. Commercial sexual exploitation of children is not considered an urban middle class issue he said.
Specialised skills and capacities must be created within the police force and in the social ecosystem to deal with cases of commercial sexual abuse of children. The focus must be on traffickers as well as on customers. Other issues raised in the workshop were to do with the arrests and conviction of customers and traffickers, the tolerance of the customer’s behaviour — for instance, laws punishing customers are interpreted too leniently and the investigation of the crime does not focus on the customer. Though a law like POCSO exists, it is underutilised and knowledge of the laws to arrest customers is low, says an activist.