ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sale of Innocence

We owe it to our children to deal with the crime of child trafficking on an urgent basis.

The crime of human trafficking involves two vulnerable sections among the poor and marginalised: women and children. In India, children are trafficked across states and, in relatively smaller numbers, to west Asian countries mostly for forced labour, domestic work and sexual exploitation. Often they are forced into begging, drug peddling, pornography and into exploitative sports like camel racing. Extreme poverty, destitution following natural and man-made disasters, and outbreak of armed conflicts are among the main reasons for children being sold or abducted into this modern form of slavery.

Following a public interest litigation (piL) filed by the nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Bachpan Bachao Andolan in the Supreme Court recently, the solicitor general submitted a report on the mechanism to secure the rights of these children. Going by the statements and questions of the apex court in response to the PIL, not much seems to have changed since it delivered two landmark rulings on human trafficking in 1990 and 1997. The judges wanted to know why Section 376 (rape) of the Indian Penal Code was not invoked against the exploiters of the children in prostitution rackets and the victims were instead harassed. They also pointed to the need for more and better equipped shelter institutions and a special investigating agency to deal with the trafficking that occurs on the borders with Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

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