Children are the greatest gift to mankind, their young minds have the ability to shape the future of the society at large but they are the most vulnerable section of the society and their innocence is prone to be blatantly misused. Crimes against children have been plummeting ever since the Industrial era and we don’t see those crimes descend in the near future. It took almost 19 years for India to ratify the ILO convention that prohibits the worst form of chid labour yet we see child trafficking thrive and flourish in the society we live in. Their right to nourish and grow in healthy environment regardless of their socio-economic conditions is violated everyday and we continue to turn a blind eye to these atrocities. In India one in seven kids are victims of child trafficking and are forced into labour and sex trade, the exact figures are hard to come by. We can define child trafficking as harbouring and exploiting the physical and mental integrity of anyone below the age of 18 for the benefits of the traffickers. Children are exploited for several reasons, some of the primary reasons are : Sexual exploitation- minor girls are forced into sex labour and are traded and sold to older men who either get married to them or demand sexual favours from them and upon denying are subjected to physical abuse, 80% of the victims are trafficked for the purpose of prostitution. Illegal activities- many children are abducted and forced to beg and are at times subjected to illegal organ transplant where their organs are sold. These children are even victims of drug trafficking where they inject drugs in their bodies and are traded to different cities where the drug is later extracted from their bodies. Labour- children brought into the city are sold or traded as bonded labour to industrial owners. Not only they are forced to work under inhume condition which are hazardous to their well being but receive little or no wage. These malpractices violate their right to grow in a healthy environment, they are denied of education which is their basic need ,they are denied of medical assistance and are prone to life threatening diseases, STDs, HIV, unwanted pregnancies and abortion. The victims that escape from the clutches of these traffickers continue to face the social stigma and with very little rehabilitation centres, they receive no support. These traumatic events leave a huge phycological impact in their young minds. Government interference is the need of the hour.
The main legal instrument to prevent trafficking in human beings in India is The Immoral Trafficling Prevention Act, 1956, the main focus of this act is towards girls and women but it does not specifically talk about “child trafficking” infact ITPA does not even define “trafficking”. The word “trafficking” is defined only by the Goa’s children act, 2003, which is a state law. Regardless of ratifying multiple international conventions, the global standards may have been implemented but they are definitely not executed given the current scenario and traffickers continue to get away without facing the consequences of their acts. The most vulnerable sections are minor girls and minors from poor families who are easily manipulated by traffickers under the pretext of a “better life” and due to their financial conditions and lack of awareness they are left with no other options but to sell their children, child marriage is also one of the factor that fuels trafficking, minor girls are trafficked under the name of marriage. Porous borders are often cited as a contributing factor to cross-border trafficking, ECPAT International estimates that 150,000 women and children are trafficked from South Asia annually, most from, through or to India. The combined estimates for Nepal and Bangladesh range from 500 to 10,000 girls being trafficked to India annually; another estimate puts the figure at more than 200,000 over a period of seven years. At present there are no effective laws that deal with cross-border trafficking.
It is estimated 90% of the trafficking in the country is internal. With the ongoing civil and border disruptions the line between immigrants, refugee crisis and trafficking is growing thin, its upsetting that the government still cannot determine the gravity of this national and international crisis, this has created a sense of insecurity among many families and out of fear they restrain their children from seeking furthur education. lack of media coverage and lack of education makes it easier to manipulate these victims that fall prey to such atrocities. We are obliged to protect the vulnerable, we need to start pin pointing the loop holes that persist in our justice system, and existing anti trafficking laws need to be critically evaluate to make sure it serves its purpose. NGOs have been battling trafficking for a very long time. To eradicate this crisis the government and media needs to work hand in hand by amending the laws and rewarding maximum punishment to the offenders, reintegration of society and building multiple rehabilitating centres and ensuring the spread of awareness about these measures in rural as well as urban areas, especially areas prone to child trafficking. The gravity of this situations needs to be realised and worked upon before millions of vulnerable children are subjected to such tormenting situation.