NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday sought responses of the Centre and nine states within two weeks on a PIL seeking an urgent mechanism to save lakhs of children at risk of being trafficked for cheap labour and prostitution as a result of impoverishment of their families because of the lockdown.
Appearing for NGO 'Bachpan Bachao Andolan', senior advocate H S Phoolka told a bench of Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy that there was a disturbing report of 136 minor girls being married off in Bengal as the agricultural class in the state had not only lost their livelihood due to the lockdown but was hit hard by Cyclone Amphan.
The bench issued notices to Bengal, Bihar,
, Delhi and Telangana after Phoolka said the NGO had come to know that child trafficking middlemen had become active in 115 districts where many families were rendered jobless and were staring at starvation.
" The NGO received reports from its activists across India that on lifting of lockdown, there is likely to be a massive spurt in child trafficking - for cheap labour and commercial sexual exploitation. Middlemen have started making advance payments to poor families without livelihood for taking their children in the promise of providing employment or getting them married," Phoolka said.
said: "It is us who provide the market for child labour as we employ them as domestic staff. Please suggest measures on how to prevent this." The NGO sought enforcement of fundamental rights of children and prevent them from becoming victims of human trafficking.