- (Ruth Malhotra/February 2013)
The exploitation and trafficking of children in India does not seem to be slowing even after international condemnation and newly passed laws to prevent such horrific acts.
According to official government estimates, roughly 90,000 children went missing in India in 2011- the most recent year that official government numbers are available- with only about 15,000 cases prompting local police to investigate the disappearance.
"The numbers are shocking now," Bhuwan Ribhu, a lawyer who works with the Save the Childhood Movement, told GlobalPost.com.
Many of the horrendous acts that young Indians endure are continually perpetuated by rampant poverty and a social order that has engrained a framework of discrimination on its citizens.
While there are laws in India prohibiting the observance of the caste system, enforcement of those laws is lax in urban areas and virtually non-existent in rural ones.
Indian officials did reveal that of the 90,000 or so children who went missing, around 35,000 did return home in what is an all too common practice of India's children. Running away to temporarily escape living in one of India's network of slums throughout the country is not unheard of.
Trusting a stranger promising work and wages, however, is a sticky web in which thousands of children and their families are entangled in each year.
While there are instances of children running away from home, the majority of disappearing children and their families fall victim to the promise of work and better wages. Parents of impoverished children are often approached by individuals who promise to find their child or children work and a decent wage, but who are forced to work in factories or are sold as commodities in the trafficking industry.
"In the majority of the cases we deal with the child is being taken away with the promise of a better job or a better life and then disappears," Ribhu explained. "Out of the 10 children who are going missing every hour, only one case is being investigated … These children are all being put into various kinds of exploitation."