Will children of India be able to enjoy the life envisioned for kids or will they be pawns for the traffickers?
“Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare in the darkness of the soul.” – Dave Pelzer, A Child Called “It”
Just when the world was busy celebrating Children’s Day, last year, 86 children working as labourers in factories and beggars were rescued in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. On the same day, volunteers of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) rescued around 17 boys, some of whom were extremely frail, who were working as labourers in Delhi. The owners fled the spot. However, an FIR was registered under section 14 and 16 of the Child Labour Act, 1986 and Human Trafficking Act, 1956.
Welcome to the age of ‘Un-innocence’ where kids live a dark life oblivious of their pitiable situations while culprits are unharmed by law. These kids continue to exist in misery when they should be actually enjoying the greatest gift of life-childhood!
UNICEF defines Child trafficking as any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred or received for the purpose of exploitation within or outside the country. In our country, children are trafficked for the purpose of labour, begging, stealing or sexual exploitation. It is a common sight for us to see minors working in restaurants, shops or even as domestic helps.
Around eight kids go missing every hour. According to BBA, only half of the missing kids are traced back. While boys are made to toil in factories, shops, eateries or even forced to steal logos from cars and made to resort to other petty thefts, girls are pushed into the sex trade or are married off in remote places in return of money or are made to work as domestic maids. Several rich households in the city have minor girls working as domestic maids. The horror does not end here. Other horrendous acts involve selling organs of kids and making them beg.
Deepti Minch, a 19-year-old native of Kunuri village wells up while narrating the horrific experience she had undergone. Tricked and sold to a family in Punjab district by a village agent, she was made to toil throughout the day for a meagre salary and food. “I worked from 6 am until midnight. I had to cook, clean, take care of the children and massage the legs of my employers and if I failed to do that, they would beat me,” she wept.
Luckily, she managed to escape from their clutches and reach home safely. However, there are many more Deeptis out there who are still bound by the shackles of cruelty and are struggling to be freed. Mostly, states like UP, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand or Bengal are the main hubs of child-trafficking.
Despite being the Capital of the nation, Delhi emerged as one of the trafficking hot-spots. Between 2010 and 2013, approximately 10,000 kids were reported missing from Chhattisgarh. While the Supreme Court expressed serious concern over it, activists demanded for strict action against the miscreants.
Bought for Rs 10,000, six-year-old Sumit is made to work in a carpet factory when he should be home playing and enjoying childhood. With hardly any food provided to him, his fingers tremble with weakness as he talks. The government of India has taken up many measures to put an end to such unlawful activities but in vain. It continues to happen in secrecy. Famous landmark places turn spots for selling kids for adoption purposes. It is not just the Indians who buy kids, it is also the foreigners who indulge in such activities. At the end, it is the children who suffer due to their vulnerability and gullibility.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures” the saying is apt as the primary reason found behind trafficking is poverty. Poverty is still the root cause of many evils that prevail in the society. Billions of families are deprived of basic necessities of life. It pushes them into taking such steps.
NGO Oasis of Bhopal has introduced an innovative project of teaching kids through science museums. Not only the underprivileged children enjoy going to schools, many of them have even stopped working as labourers. It is not always a forced problem. Sometimes, the parents knowingly sell their kids for cash or sometimes they are genuinely tricked into selling them. Lack of economic provisions, social status, education, awareness and employment also contribute to the crime.
Trafficking has spread its tentacles far and wide. It is a money spinning business that makes it attractive for culprits. There is no trepidation regarding this as no strict action has been taken. At the end, it is the innocent children who are suffering. It is forceful snatching of their fundamental rights and making them live like an animal. Trafficking is one of the biggest challenges of democracy.
In this big bad world, can a child enjoy childhood? Can they play without feeling scared? Can they run with a happy smile on his face? Can the tools in their hands be replaced by toys and books? In a nutshell, Can they hope for a better future that is actually their right?