Kids trafficked from Northern states

Hundreds are brought to Bengaluru every day from the northern and north-eastern states, and put to work in homes and restaurants

Hundreds of children are trafficked to Bengaluru every day, and a majority now come from the northern and north-eastern states. Child trafficking involves a source area and a destination area, says John Roberts, head of programming for south India, Child Relief and You. NGOs such as CRY have noticed an influx of children from the Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, and also from West Bengal, Assam and Manipur. “It is exploitation, desperation and poverty that drives children to seek jobs outside the comfort of familiar surroundings,” he explains. He says that the southern states look attractive because of the easy availability of jobs. “There are odd jobs at restaurants, home gardens, and wayside eateries (dhabas). Sometimes they are even hired to pluck coconuts. The children get paid Rs 300 to Rs 600 a day,” he says. In Bengaluru, the demand for young people from the North-East is high. “They are made to work for long hours for paltry salaries. Children are usually employed because they don’t oppose, unionise and question the employer,” he explains. Fr Mathew Thomas SDB, executive director, Bosco, says his rescue teams are stationed at bus stands and railway stations through the day and sometimes at night. They rescue children who mostly run away from home and end up in a city. But it is difficult to spot trafficked children when they are in the midst of a group of grown-ups. “When we see a bunch of children accompanied by an adult, it is hard to say what they are here for,” explains Mathew. Children, usually between 10 and 15 years, are brought into the city by a man usually known to the child’s parents. “They bring the children promising them jobs and good money but end up sending them to work as domestic workers and cleaners at restaurants. These children are sometimes trafficked for sex work as well,” he says. Parents are usually unaware of what has happened to their children because they get a regular flow of money from Bengaluru. The agents paint a rosy picture of the child’s well-being, he adds. Mathew also points out that children as young as eight or 10 are seen working at construction sites along with their parents. “Labourers, who usually have more than two children, encourage them to work on these sites because of the extra income. Their education is discontinued and they are forced into hard labour,” adds Mathew. According to the crime branch of the Bengaluru police, child trafficking cases are usually registered under child labour and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act. “When it comes to trafficking, girls outnumber boys. They are brought into the city from the northern parts of the country for domestic work and sometimes trafficked for sex work as well,” a senior officer told Metrolife. Another senior officer with the Central Crime Branch says children are mainly trafficked to look after younger children, and also for begging and sex. “Some children, especially those between 15 and 18 years are trafficked for organ transplants. If they find a child’s blood group matches the donor, they clandestinely take away a kidney,” says the officer. Types of trafficking *50 per cent for domestic jobs. *40 per cent for sex work. *10 per cent for restaurants. Impact of child trafficking Children who ought to be in school are forced to work in hard circumstances. “They are put into cooking and cleaning. Their wages are low and irregular. They also face physical, mental and psychological abuse. They are deprived of education because their families need money,” says John Roberts of CRY.

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