NEW DELHI: The rape and murder of a nine-year-old girl in Begampur has once again brought the plight of missing children and the dangers that they face to the fore. Voluntary organizations and child rights activists said the government and law enforcement agencies have failed to come up with concrete strategies to trace them.
Pointing out that missing cases remain an area of neglect by the government and continue to threaten lives of many children, activists said authorities need to be more sensitive. “When a child goes missing, it is the biggest pain for the family. But what haunts them more is the thought of the condition the child would be in,” said Rakesh Senger of Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
According to a data, most of the 20-odd children, who go missing everyday in Delhi, are subjected to sexual violence and abuse either by individuals or by syndicates from the sex work industry. NGOs feel that even after the implementation of measures like Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act ( POCSO), there continues to be a laxity in its execution.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that if a child goes missing, the case should always be looked at from a trafficking angle be it for sexual exploitation or bonded labour,” said Ravi Kant, president of Shakti Vahini, an NGO.
“When we go for rescue operations, only the trafficker found with the missing child is arrested. There is never an attempt to trace the entire group that is involved in the act. Trafficking is not carried out by a single person. It is an organized crime. This should be treated as a loophole in the system because it gives such people an added incentive to carry on without fear of punishment,” Ravi Kant added.
There is also failure to follow the standard operating procedure implemented by the high court and the Supreme Court for cases involving missing children. “If police follow these standard operating procedures properly then it will not be difficult to trace children who go missing and fall prey to sexual abuse,” Sengar said.
Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, co-founder of HAQ Centre for Child Rights feels that children in urban areas are more prone to abduction for sexual exploitation.