While economic deprivation is an important reason behind child trafficking, but there are several catalysts that make it one of the most profitable crime businesses in the world. Over 40% of India’s population is economically deprived, without access to basic opportunities. Influenced by society to have children despite the lack of resources, they then find that there’s more money in selling their children off rather than taking care of them. With a high amount of illegal investment in child trafficking, one of the most powerful ways to combat child trafficking is to donate so that you can contribute to increasing awareness and infrastructure for rescue missions and relief programs. If you want to support an NGO, Save the Children is a pioneer, with decades of legacy in the field of child relief.
Save The Children identifies and works with disadvantaged local communities by training Children’s Groups to stand up against various forms of exploitation such as child marriage, child trafficking, child abuse and child labour. Young, at-risk children are empowered to join school via enrolment drives, and kept safe, while children above the age of 14 receive skill-based vocational trainings to create job opportunities for them.
Along with protecting lakhs of children from different forms of harm, especially in vulnerable situations including natural calamities, the NGO also fights for child rights through advocacy reforms guided by the United Nations Convention on Rights of the Child.
Following are some of the most important causes of child trafficking:
Girls as objects of desire
Indian society finds sons more ‘valuable’ than their daughters, simply because they carry on the family name, aren’t subjected to dowry and are obliged to take care of them in their old age. Since girls are also seen as weak and only objects of desire, it is clear why most girl victims of child labour end up in prostitution or some kind of sexual slavery. According to a September 2015 report in India Today, girls are “sold openly” in Agra and Patna and auctioned for their virginity.
Lack of education
While the Right to Education act, supplemented by initiatives of both NGOs and government bodies, attempts to drive school enrolment, the truth is poor school conditions discourage children from being interested in school. This is worsened by teachers who have no incentive in teaching in villages, due to these conditions and low salaries. With a rote learning-based educational system that doesn’t make children employable, parents see labour a better proposition. This is why there are 8.33 lakh children trapped in child labour in India. This is a ripe environment for traffickers to lure parents with lies about the possibility of better education, domestic work, and a nurturing atmosphere, with just a small sum of money.
The caste system is still a contemporary reality. While urban India fights for reservation, it is rural India which reels under caste based discrimination, with reduced access to opportunities for advancement.
With the high profits associated with child trafficking, it is not surprising to see low caste families being coerced and bullied into selling their children, or out rightly having their children stolen overnight. The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) has even reported cases where children have “disappeared”, with a frequency of one in eight minutes.
Exploitation resulting from sex discrimination
As girls are seen as meek, loyal and submissive, they are trafficked by ‘placement agencies’ into working as servants. Upon maturity, they can then be used as prostitutes, sold again to brothels, while the unknowing family which hired them as a maid buys yet another girl as a servant.
Alternatively, they’re also rented out to foreign tourists looking for minor girls. Minor girls are in huge demand in illegal sex trade in different parts of India and they’re easy targets to exploit. Traffickers also create an illusion that one day; the entire family will follow their sons and daughters into the city. They aren’t aware of the link between the placement agencies and brothels.
India has seen a series of political parties coming to power. There has been a general lack of will amongst the political class to pass a strong anti-child trafficking legislation. The list of pending cases in Indian courts, including the Supreme Court, goes into the hundreds of thousands. This creates a lack of strong legal precedent against child trafficking and emboldens the traffickers.
Dysfunctional family and society structure
Dysfunction in Indian family and society structures results from alcoholism and gambling, as well as a rigorous patriarchy which exercises power through the panchayat as well as informal societal norms. This is worsened by poverty and neglect, compelling children to leave home, only to find themselves trapped by traffickers.
Corruption in India
While the span of corruption, going into thousands of crores, is part of the everyday news, its reach is far more pervasive in rural India, triggering off poverty, human trafficking, inequality and casual bribery. More importantly, it has created mindsets where people seek to become rich overnight, even going as far as joining gangs and committing crimes. In this atmosphere, the highly lucrative human trafficking business seems quite an obvious choice.
It is not hard to see how these factors, and their interplay is a potent cocktail that has poisoned India’s rural ecosystem to make high incidence of child trafficking a sad reality. Aggressive steps by the government and sound groundwork by NGOs are required to mitigate what is definitely a crisis of epic proportions. It is therefore important to vehemently support the work of NGOs. One can donate online as well. Every donation has a two-pronged effect. Not only do you make a difference to a child’s life, you also get tax benefits.