Child Trafficking in India
India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking…The majority of India’s trafficking problem is internal, and those from the most disadvantaged social strata- lowest caste Dalits, members of tribal communities, religious minorities and women and girls from excluded groups – are most vulnerable (www.state.gov).
With this article, I would try to highlight this issue crisply with proper facts and figures, probable causes, and solutions (personal opinion).
It is estimated that a child goes missing in India every eight minutes.
For years, India had remained the "top destination" for human trafficking in South Asia, (UNODC).
International Labor Organization (ILO) had predicted that with the COVID-19 pandemic, the world may witness an increase in child labor for the first time in 20 years, thus, there is a risk of reversing years of progress in this arena.
According to the National Human Rights Commission, 40,000 children are abducted in the country every year, and 11,000 of them are untraced.
Three in five persons trafficked in 2016 were below 8 years of age and of these 54% were girls and 46% were boys, National Crime Record Bureau data.
What are the causes?
Lack of Resources
Only 27 percent of Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) are functional at present and only 51 percent have the required power and resources.
Lack of Effective Rehabilitation
India had 38,503 victims of trafficking in 2011-19. only 77 have got compensation. And it is seen that the child sent in rehabilitation often returned to the person who initially trafficked them.
Poor people who earn and support their family on daily wages are not that capable enough and are forced to sell their child. 50 percent of these poor people have a family income of less than $1 per day.
Lack of Proper Legislation
The anti-trafficking Bill includes punishment for trafficking for forced labor and marriage but neglects trafficking for sexual exploitation and organ trade. Also Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, and the Adolescents Labor (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986 are not mentioned in the bill.
Conditions at Home
Cases of elopement or luring teenagers with the promise to marry has increased during the lockdown due to mental stress. The ChildLine India helpline has received around 4,60.000 calls seeking protection against domestic violence and abuse since the lockdown began.
Around 59% of adolescents did not know of any way to protect themselves from trafficking, and 72% did not know about services that could help them, the World Vision India study found.
Is there any solution?
Child trafficking is a cesspool of multiple national problems and doesn't have a one fits all solution. We need to address the causes and their effect on trafficking for each individual state of India. A good starting point would be to have a sound and adequate framework to deal with trafficking. The government and law enforcement must work in sync with self-governance institutions, NGOs, and society. As individuals, we can be supportive of the cause of anti-trafficking, spread awareness, donate to grassroots organizations, and demand better from our government and law enforcement.
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