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  • Writer's pictureBharat Elango

The Widespread Havoc of Child Trafficking in India

In India, one of the most populous countries in the world located in South Asia, 472 million young children are in danger every day while residing there. Human trafficking has been an incredibly difficult and problematic issue that India has suffered with for many years. However, child trafficking has been getting substantially worse than regular human trafficking over the past few years. Human trafficking for sexual purposes has been present in India for an incredibly long time, but trafficking children for labor and slavery has only recently received national attention.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), approximately every 8 minutes a child is trafficked in India. Children are lured in by adults offering them jobs and money for simple work but are tricked and enslaved to work grueling hours, be beaten and abused, get little to no food, and sometimes used for sex. In 2016, the NCRB reported that 45% of human trafficking was for forced labor and 22% was for prostitution, other 33% was for servitude or for forced marriages.

An estimate of 135,000 children are trafficked per year and in 2016, only 14,183 children were saved. 61% of the 14,183 are males and 39% are female. Locals in India are not the only cause of these high amounts of child trafficking. Tourists travel from countries where child trafficking laws are strict and extremely frowned upon to India for sex with children.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made India's situation much worse. During the COVID-19 pandemic, India had to enforce a lockdown of 1.4 billion people. India's citizens were forced to be unemployed and without pay for months, which drove them to extreme measures to survive. Many poor families had to sell off their children to have enough money to have food on their plates. In the span of 11 days, 92,000 cases of child abuse and negligence were reported to authorities.

Many families were desperate enough to sell their young women for extremely low amounts, such as, in Jharkhand, $415 (USD). In comparison, healthy goats were being sold at around twice that price. Eventually, there will be a massive influx of child labor for the first time in 20 years, according to predictions by the International Labor Organization.

Another major factor in the ever-worsening problem of child trafficking is early marriages. Parents marry their kids off to other families for money, similarly to selling their children off, due to having no other option to survive. The UN expects 13 million child marriages will take place over the next decade worldwide. In 2020 alone, there were around 500,000 child marriages across the world. India has the worst problems for child marriages than any other country. Approximately 27% of girls are married before their 18th birthday. With the pandemic expected to be coming to a close, it is predicted that child marriage rates will fall drastically due to families being able to financially support themselves.

Unless new policies are enacted and stricter rules are enforced, the alarming rates of child marriages, child trafficking, and child prostitution will continue to rise. The longer the issue stays unresolved, the more children will be prone to physical and mental abuse. However, there is hope, as many communities in India are being educated about how immoral and wrongful child labor is. If this continues, India's communities will give their children more opportunities for a normal, optimal childhood for their growth.

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