Child trafficking in India
Child trafficking, according to UNICEF is defined as “any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country”. There have been many cases where children just disappear overnight, as many as one every eight minutes, according to the National Crime Records Bureau. Children are taken from their homes to be bought and sold in the market. In India, there is a large number of children trafficked for various reasons such as labour, begging, and sexual exploitation. Because of the nature of this crime; it is hard to track; therefore making it impossible to have exact figures regarding this issue. India is a prime area for child trafficking to occur, as many of those trafficked are from, travel through or destined to go to India. Though most of the trafficking occurs within the country, there is also a significant number of children trafficked from Nepal and Bangladesh. Filmmaker Manish Harishankar has taken the subject of Child trafficking in India in his film Chaarfutiya Chhokare Produced by Sunill Khosla & Vibha Dutta Khosla, intensively and shown this problem, nexus, modus operandi and repercussions.Recently Pradeep Sarkar's Mardaani also raised strong voice against child sex trafficing in India. Rani Mukherjee was widely appreciated for her portrayal of an officer who rescues many such trapped girls.
There are many contributing factors to child trafficking, which include economic deprivation, conditions, lack of employment opportunities, social status, and political uprisings. Many of the families in India are unable to afford the basic necessities of life, which forces the parents to sell their children off to gangs, and the gangs to exploit them. Having approximately half of those in India living under the poverty line, this results in desperate measures being taken to make any money they can. As there aren’t even decent employment opportunities available, parents will do anything from sweeping the streets to selling their kids, even if it only makes them a few rupees. The fact is that children, particularly girls, are more vulnerable than adults, making them an easier target and a commodity for gangs. They are looked upon as more expendable than the rest of the population which makes them available as objects to be sold. Another cause of sexual exploitation is that people around the world find pleasure in the outcomes of this abuse, therefore causing a demand for it. Political uprisings lead to a demand for soldiers, and as children are more vulnerable, they are forced to conscript and use their bodies as sacrifices.
Legally, children in India are allowed to do light work, but they are often trafficked for bonded labour, and domestic work, and are worked far beyond what is allowed in the country. They are often forced to work, in the use of contraptions that bound them to be unable to escape and then forced to submit to control. Others may be bound by abuse whether physical, emotional, or sexual. Those forced into labour lose all freedom, being thrown into the workforce, essentially becoming slaves, and losing their childhood.
Children, over adults are often chosen to be trafficked for illegal activities such as begging and organ trade, as they are seen as more vulnerable. Not only are these children being forced to beg for money, but a significant number of those on the streets have had limbs forcibly amputated, or even acid poured into their eyes to blind them by gang masters. Those who are injured tend to make more money, which is why they are often abused in this way. Organ trade is also common, when traffickers trick or force children to give up an organ.
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 acquire 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.
Child trafficking takes place all around India. There have been reports from many areas about the increase of trafficking taking place in India. According to the US State Department, there are approximately 600,000 to 820,000 people trafficked a year across international borders, and up to 50% of those are children. This is definitely seen as a growing issue in Asia, with the many children that are and continue to be trafficked for many reasons as well as being exploited.
In 2005, a study was conducted by the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) after they received an alarming number of reports from the press, police, and non-government organisations (NGOs) about the rise of human trafficking within India. They found that India was fast becoming a source, transit point and destination for traffickers of women and children for sexual and non-sexual purposes. The areas of the greatest concern were poverty stricken areas such as Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa and West Bengal.
- In 1998, between 5,000 and 7,000 Nepalese girls, some barely 9–10 years old were trafficked into the red light districts in Indian cities, and 200,000 to over 250,000 Nepalese women and girls were already in Indian brothels.
- In 2009, it was estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked worldwide for sexual exploitation, including for prostitution or the production of sexually abusive images
- Only 10% of human trafficking in India is international, while almost 90% is interstate. Nearly 40,000 children are abducted every year of which 11000 remain untraced according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India.
- NGO’s estimate that 12,000-50,000 women and children are trafficked into the country annually from neighbouring states for the sex trade
- There is an estimated 300,000 child beggars in India
- Every year, 44,000 children fall into the clutches of the gangs
Action against trafficking
Although there is an Immoral Traffic Prevention Act in place to aide in the immorality of human trafficking, "it only refers to trafficking for prostitution hence does not provide comprehensive protection for children. Nor does the Act provide clear definition of "'trafficking'" Also, India has failed to uphold the The Palemo Protocol, which provides protection to children against trafficking. It is estimated that 200,000 persons are trafficked in India every year. Only 10% of human trafficking in India is international, while almost 90% is interstate. Nearly 40,000 children are abducted every year of which 11000 remain untraced according to a report by the National Human Rights Commission of India.
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