Wednesday, January 31, 2007

India 360: Can law stop child trade?

Parents in Andhra Pradesh are selling their own daughters into prostitution. This is not child trafficking carried out by criminal gangs. This is child trafficking carried out by parents themselves. What can the law do when families sell their own children?

A terrible incidence indeed. Couple this with the terrible incidents at Nithari village where children went missing for the last two years, which many have described as a case of child trafficking and India has a big problem at hand as far as the little ones are concerned.
And it's not just Nithari. Every year lakhs of children go missing throughout India. A number of children are lured away from home and suffer abuse and torture. So what innovations are needed to change how we view our little ones?

The question that was being put forward by India 360 was: Can laws prevent child trafficking?
On the panel of experts to try and answer the question were: Head of Policy, Save The Children India, Shireen Miller Wakil; Supreme Court lawyer, Pinky Anand; and former chairperson, National Commission For Women, Vibha Parthasarthy.

Moral Crisis

When parents themselves sell their daughters, it is not juts a collosal failure of law and order, it is also a moral crisis. What innovative measures can be taken to see that this does not happen because the law is clearly not enough?

To this, Vibha Parthasarthy said, "I think we first need to find out why parents are forced into taking this action. Very often, a family will sell a child in order to feed five other children. It's a question on abject poverty. These kind of families go without meals for three days at a stretch and the Rs 300-500 that they get are a sign of meals for them. It's a terrible sacrifice for the family."

So in that situation, isn't it better that the child works rather than the child being sold off for money? "I wish it was such a simple 'either, or' situation. Working where? Who is the child going to work with and what are the kinds of caring and working conditions that one can ensure for the child? These are the questions that need to be answered. For example - the child should not be overworked, should get adequate meals, should get medical attention when he or she is ill and proper living conditions without any abuse," she said.

Minister for Women and Child Development, Renuka Chodhury has said that basically, the ban on child labour, should not be put in place in certain industries. She is of the opinion that children should be allowed to work in certain traditional industries so that they bring in an income else they would be trafficked by their own parents.
Pinky Anand said that she agreed with the minister completely. "This has been my view all along said she. I think what happens all the time is that all of us perpetually try and imitate Western philosophy. In the West, the situation is far more developed and there are welfare policies and children are not starving on the roads. If in such conditions there is a ban on child labour, then it is understandable. But, India is trying to transpose those conditions and saying that children should not work, is not going to work here."



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