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Newborn child trafficking racket in India

Introduction

Human trafficking is often referred to as the modern day equivalent of slavery. Both slavery and human trafficking are moral wrongs, they are also both perpetuated by an unfeeling economic system that treats humans as commodities, to be transported and traded for monetary gain.

However, nowadays the newborn child trafficking is increasing.

Human trafficking is the third largest organized crime after drugs and the arms trade across the globe. According to the definition of the United Nations – “trafficking is any activity leading to recruitment, transportation, harboring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or a position of vulnerability”.

Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation from the neighboring countries like Nepal, Bangladesh etc. Thousands of Bangladeshi and Nepali girls are traded in India for sex. Children from India are trafficked to the Middle East every year for begging in Hajj. States like Bihar, UP, West Bengal, Rajasthan, and Delhi topped the list.

Data

• Almost 20,000 women and children were victims of human trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year.

• The Ministry of Women and Child Development told parliament that 19,223 women and children were trafficked in 2016 against 15,448 in 2015, with the highest number of victims recorded in the eastern state of West Bengal.

• There were 9,104 trafficked children last year — a 27% increase from the previous year. The number of women trafficked rose by 22 % to 10,119 in 2016. West Bengal — which shares a porous border with poorer neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal and is a known human trafficking hub for that reason — registered more than one-third of the total number of victims in 2016.

• The desert state of Rajasthan recorded the second highest number of trafficked children in 2016, while the western state of Maharashtra, where India’s business capital Mumbai is located, showed the second highest number of trafficked women.

Present scenario

Due to presence of widespread poverty baby trafficking has become one of the most lucrative businesses.

Gangs steal or buy infants from mothers who are told their child had died or who can't afford to have more children. Fueling the trade are couples seeking to adopt children, kidnappers extracting ransoms from families desperate to reclaim their little ones and the economic value of children forced into labor.

Dark-complexioned girls were sold for anywhere between Rs 80,000 and Rs 1 lakh, while fair ones got them as much as Rs 1.5 lakh. Male infants were sold for Rs 2 lakh or more.

A primary reason for son preference in India is associated with the supposed economic utility of having sons. It is expected that sons take care of parents during old age and illness in the absence of old age pension and social security have higher earning potential due to greater prospects of being employed in the labour market and take care of family business. In patrilineal societies like India only sons can continue the family lineage, and inherit family wealth.

The perceived benefits of having girls are low due to the high costs incurred in taking care of a girl and the need for a dowry at marriage. If the role of a girl or woman is no more than to bear children to continue the lineage, and the rights of a woman are transferred to the husband’s family at the time of marriage then the perceived benefits of having a girl are low.

Further an increase in baby trafficking in India is reducing the number of children available for adoption and fuelling the lucrative trade as more couples wait to adopt. Under Indian laws children who have been surrendered by their birth parents or brought in by the police are declared legally free for adoption after various legal processes are completed. This includes giving birth parents up to 60 days to reconsider their decision.

To ensure transparency, the adoption process in India went online last year with waitlisted families and the children available for adoption featured on a website.
But traffickers often tried to get hold of these babies before the parents - often unwed mothers - made it to the government department to surrender the child.

Impact

Trafficking violates human rights standards as defined by international law, like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Trafficked children are usually denied education and salary, but they are also physically, psychosocially and sexually exploited, exposed to harmful working conditions, diseases and early pregnancy. They are exposed to inhumane living conditions, poor sanitation, inadequate nutrition, poor personal hygiene, occupational hazards and general lack of quality health care. Hence, child trafficking is extremely harmful for the children and their human development. Trafficked children suffer from physical and psychological health issues such as fear, depression, low self-esteem and self-worth, poor social skills, anger and hostility, inability to trust and build meaningful relationships in later life, blurred roles and boundaries, pseudomaturity, sexualized behaviour, guilt, shame, substance misuse, self-harm (including suicide), post-traumatic stress disorder and physical disabilities.

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