Eleven children go missing in India every hour and at least four of them are never heard from again, according to Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), a children’s’ rights non-governmental organization in a new report.
That translates into tens of thousands of kids “disappearing” from India every year.
Using data from 392 districts across India, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) cited data gleaned from the government from January 2008 and January 2010 as well as a survey. The state of Maharashtra recorded the most number of missing children, followed by West Bengal.
Most of the missing children –who are primarily from poor families -- end up as bonded labor for exploitative businesses, become victims of child sex rings, or simply held for ransom. Some, BBA claim, are even being held as modern-day slaves for wealthy families.
The biggest problem is the apathy of law enforcement agencies as a majority of children going missing are not even being acknowledged, let alone registered and investigated, BBA founder Kailash Satyarthi said in a statement, according to The Press Trust of India (PTI).
Satyarthi told BBC: The majority of the missing children are not even being acknowledged, let alone registered and investigated by the police and enforcement agencies.”
Sunil Krishna, Director General, National Human Rights Commission told PTI: Police and law and enforcement agencies do not take the cases seriously. There is a dearth of agencies for collecting and disseminating the data on missing children.
R S Chaurasia, Chairperson of BBA, earlier stated that he thinks that less that 15 percent of the total number of missing children are properly investigated.
BBA believed Delhi is focal point in the underground child trafficking business.
“Many impoverished parents send their children with traffickers to cities on promises they will earn a living, learn a trade and get an education,” BBA reported.
“But… once a child is in the hands of traffickers, in most cases they are cut off completely from their parents, not paid and forced into a life of labor and abuse. In this way… consent is not informed consent and the child is by any legal definition kidnapped.
Ironically, India's surging economy is partially to blame for this crisis.
Bhuwan Ribhu, an activist from BBA, believes thousands of children as young as 12 are now being trafficked into domestic slavery for the growing middle class in cities like Delhi.
“In and around Delhi alone there are 4000 placement agencies that have not been registered,” Bhuwan said, according to BBA.
“We estimate hundreds of thousands of girls throughout the country are being used as domestic laborers, and all are minors.”