Child Trafficking is a global issue, every year 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide. India has become a prime target for child trafficking with 40,000-90,000 children going missing every year. With a large number of population living below the poverty line conditions such as economic deprivation, lack of employment opportunities, social status and inability to afford the basic necessities of life, which forces the parents to sell their children off. According to child protection experts, however, cases in which parents or other family members knowingly sell their children are rare. More often, the family is duped into surrendering their child with the promise that he or she will be given a job and a better life in the city.
India is a source, destination, and transit country for trafficking for many purposes such as commercial sexual exploitation. Majority of the trafficking is within the country but there are also a large number trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. Children are trafficked to Middle Eastern countries for sport such as camel racing. There are no national or regional estimates for the number of children trafficked every year. But 40% of prostitutes are children, and there is a growing demand for young girls in the industry.
NGOs estimate that 12,000 – 50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring states for the sex trade. Thousands of girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and Nepal. 200,000 Nepalese girls under 16 years are in prostitution in India. An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Indian children are smuggled out of the country every year to Saudi Arabia for begging during the Hajj. Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have the largest number of people trafficked. Intra state/inter district trafficking is high in Rajasthan, Assam, Meghalaya, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Delhi and Goa are the major receiver states. Trafficking from north eastern states is high but often over looked. In 2008, 529 girls were trafficked from Assam alone.
There is a rising demand for live-in maids in urban areas. This has resulted in trafficking of girls from villages in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh to live under extremely poor conditions first in “placement agencies” and later in the employers homes. Placement agents keep the girls in small unhygienic rooms packed together. They are often made to do the placement agent’s household work and subjected to sexual abuse.
UNICEF has found that children who are forced to beg by third parties are often removed from their families, surrender the majority of their income to their exploiter, endure unsafe work and living conditions, and are at times maimed to increase profits. In addition to inflections such as blindness and loss of limbs, other physical abuses for the purposes of heightening profits include pouring chili pepper on a child’s tongue to give the appearance of impeded speech, the use of opium to elicit cries, and administering forced injections of drugs that will increase a child’s energy and alertness.
Sexual exploitation is an issue that is faced among many developing countries and is defined as “the sexual abuse of children and youth through the exchange of sex or sexual acts for drugs, food, shelter, protection, other basics of life, and/or money”. Often young girls are taken from their homes and sold as items to become sex slaves and even forced into prostitution. This may seem bad enough, but sexual exploitation is not always forced. Out of desperation, some parents will even sell their kids off to be sexually abused, in order to be able to afford the basic necessities of life. As the parents are likely to have been sexually abused as children, generations to come are forced to live in this seemingly never-ending cycle of selling their children into sexual exploitation and abuse.
The government of India has made legal provisions to counter trafficking as per the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act 1986. The MWCD has taken a number of Initiatives to combat trafficking of Women and Children. We as citizens must also take important steps such as reporting any case of human trafficking we are aware of, refusing to participate in any trade that involves child trafficking like prostitution and helping in the rehabilitation of the rescued children. Check out the link below to help and learn more