The Lost Children of India: Addressing Child Trafficking
As the third largest profitable industry in the world, human trafficking exposes children to violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation. According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), a child victim of trafficking is “any person under eighteen who is recruited, transported, transferred, harbored, or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country.” India specifically is a source, destination, and transit country for trafficking for many purposes, especially sexual exploitation, with 40% of prostitutes in India being under the age of eighteen. The majority of the trafficked children come from Nepal and Bangladesh, with an estimated 12,000-50,000 coming specifically for the sex trade. Furthermore, there is a rising demand for live-in maids in Indian urban areas, resulting in the trafficking of girls from rural villages to live in poor conditions within employers’ homes. Child trafficking is not entirely a socio-legal issue, but is rather more of a symptom of a multitude of issues with India’s society and lifestyle. As human transportation often takes place with the victims’ and their families’ knowledge because of the economic benefits, detecting a victim and the agents involved can be challenging for the international community.
Millions are involved and affected by the great extent of human trafficking in India, but importantly, the national government is not being held accountable for its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other frameworks. In fact, most regions in India continue to fail in providing comprehensive child protection systems like birth registration, access to education, combating early marriage, and more. The country has suffered greatly from its lack of compliance and it is not the job of SPECPOL to address the issue.