We don’t want to admit that our kids go missing!
No dedicated police unit to track missing children
Shockingly, in this country we do not have a centralised dedicated police unit to track missing children, even though according to an United Nations study, as many 45,000 children go missing every year. However, official statistics usually paint a far rosier picture than exists on the ground (article) and the NCRB says that only 3,518 children were missing that year! There seems to be a lethargy on the part of the police, not just crack down on the organised gangs operating in this area, but a reluctance to even admit that there is a serious problem! I don’t know what we are ashamed of. Children go missing all over the world and countries with a far lower population than ours have more missing children.
United States has a problem too
This website and this, has the information that India is not alone in this tragedy. To my surprise I found that 797,500 children in the United States go missing every year and out of these 58,200 are victims of non-family abductions! In fact every single day in the United States, more than 3000 children go missing. Child kidnapping is a very serious problem all over the world, but for some reason our administration doesn’t want to admit that they have a problem.
Who are our missing kids?
Well, 94 per cent of these missing children belong to backward castes and are poor. This is according to a study conducted by Guria, a Varanasi-based voluntary organisation who profiled missing children from eastern Uttar Pradesh (Yahoo news). More than half the missing kids were from families with an income of Rs 2000/- per month ($45) and average family size was more than five. Children of labourers top the missing list, followed by those who depend on agriculture for their income.
Where do these children go?
They are mostly trafficked, either for sexual purposes or for sweat-shops…and yes, some are enrolled into the begging mafia. Some are even kidnapped by shady adoption agencies to sell to prospective adoptive parents. (TOI report).
Mumbai top destination
Another TOI report says that Mumbai is the top destination for these kids. This is according to a recent study by the International Institute of Population Sciences which showed that while almost a quarter of the migrants to Mumbai are children who support themselves, 2004 statistics show that the city’s zari industry (for making gold borders of sarees) alone employs almost 60,000 children.
In a column in India Today (29th Jan issue) Pinki Virani, who has written a book on child-abuse, quotes a Scotland Yard Official:
“India needs to open its eyes. Do you think that the thousands of children who disappear somehow safely do so? That every bit of a child’s body is is finding a peaceful end in-absentia? India is the emerging hub for international paedophilia because as a country you don’t even know how to deal with your own.”
The photo is sourced from BBC world and is not that of a kidnapped child, but a child working in her father’s dhaba (tea-shop.)