New Delhi, Oct 13 (PTI) Worried over sexual exploitation of children in India, Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar today bemoaned that the issue was not a priority for politicians.

The lawmaker said while efforts by individuals and the civil society were “well-meaning”, the menace has assumed a form that only an “institutional approach” can address.

He blamed “years of neglect” by various governments for this.

The independent Rajya Sabha member from Bangalore launched a National Action Plan against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (NAPCSEC) during a press conference in New Delhi.

“While we talk of girl education and development, the issue of girl safety and their exploitation has never been made part of the mainstream discussion,” Chandrasekhar said.

“The problem has been that we have not been institutionally organised,” he said.

Asked why he believed it hasn’t been made a political priority so far, the lawmaker replied, “I think there has been a basic reluctance to accept it as a major problem.” “But if we as a society come together and collectively make it an issue, the government will respond,” he said.

The NAPCSEC plan has proposed creation of a national child grid, on the lines of NATGRID, for timely action.

P M Nair, Chair-Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai, also attended the event.

Nair, a retired IPS officer, said the need was to keep the ‘customer’ at the centrality of this proposed framework.

“That is how the demand would be choked. These ‘customers’ are treated as mere witnesses and that is what needs to change. They should instead be named and shamed,” he said.

According to the NCRB data provided by the National Coalition for Protection of Children, an initiative by Chandrasekhar, “The total number of child trafficking cases reported in India in 2015 was 3,490 with an offender conviction report of 14.3 per cent.”

Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal are among the states from which girls are picked up for prostitution at an early age. Delhi, Mumbai and Goa are some of the places where they end up, living a hellish life, the NCPOC said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.