March 27: Over 1,500 children have disappeared from Assam between 2011 and 2012, and most are now living in subhuman conditions somewhere in north India, as prostitutes, domestic helps or underage wives in women-starved states. According to the latest data of the State Crime Records Bureau, altogether 1,071 female and 494 male children have gone missing in Assam in 2011-2012, the highest in the Northeast.
The crime records also revealed that during this period, 965 missing children, including 283 male and 682 female, have been traced. This means that as on March 15, 2012, 211 male children and 389 female children have remained untraced in the state.
According to Unicef, a child victim of trafficking is “any person under 18 who is recruited, transported, transferred, harboured or received for the purpose of exploitation, either within or outside a country”.
Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO working on anti-trafficking projects, said in Assam, the human trafficking situation in general and child trafficking in particular is highly alarming. “Mostly children and women are being trafficked from Assam for prostitution, forced marriages as well as to be employed as domestic helps in north India, including states like Delhi and Haryana,” he said.
According to him, the role of illegally-run placement agencies is a big concern. Recently, 22 girls were rescued jointly by Shakti Vahini and Assam police from the premises of one such placement agency in Delhi. “The placement agencies are involved in trafficking of children and exploit them physically and mentally,” he said.
The victims are being trafficked with the lure of job or money. A police source here said the rising demand for live-in maids in urban areas has resulted in trafficking of girls from villages in Assam, Bengal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. The trafficked children are forced to live under extremely poor conditions first in “placement agencies” and later in the employers’ homes.
Placement agents keep the girls in small unhygienic rooms, packed together. They are often made to do the placement agent’s household work and also subjected to sexual abuse. Citing the State Crime Records Bureau figures, Kant said trafficking of adults is also high in Assam compared to other states in the region.
In 2011-12, 687 men and 1,234 women went missing from the state. Of them, 331 men and 389 women are yet to be traced. “Trafficking of young girls from rural areas in Assam to Haryana for forced marriage is the ramification of the skewed sex ratio in Haryana,” Kant said