MYSURU: The child trafficking racket that came to light in the temple town of Nanjangud a few days back is just a tip of the iceberg, according to NGOs, child activists and government officials.
It is a flourishing business clandestinely run by a strong network, they say.
Sources said tourist places are haven for the illegal business as many child beggars who are their soft targets are found there. Even in Nanjangud case, the racket was uncovered after a perpetrator tried to kidnap a beggar’s child who was seeking alms near a temple.
Incidents of child trafficking mostly go unnoticed as the government agencies hardly have any control over beggars. K Radha, deputy director of Women and Child Welfare Department said that while all other pregnancies are reported by the department, beggars do not.
“They do not like any kind of binding on them. If they report pregnancies with us, we insist on regular check ups and keep the tab on the newborn after delivery.”Apart from beggars, perpetrators prey on children of poor parents and those born out of unwanted pregnancies. A month ago, Radha said, they got news of a poor woman who delivered a baby at a private nursing home in H D Kote. That woman sold her newborn mainly because she had no money to foot the hospital expenses. The department is following up the case.
She said child trafficking is a flourishing business mainly because people who want to adopt children do not want to go through the lengthy process. “It requires at least one year to get a child after enrolling online. People are not ready to wait that long,” she said. The issue is not a priority for the police as a majority of children trafficked are the ones who are sold by the parents and hence there are no missing cases reported. In the last three years, over 400 children have gone missing from Mysuru city and about 85 per cent of them have been traced. But none of the missing children are below six years of age. Police Inspector Mallesh who oversees ‘Operation Mukan’ which intends to trace missing children, says none of the children they traced had been trafficked.
Stanly of Odanadi, an NGO working for the rehabilitation of trafficked children, says a collective responsibility to address the issue is lacking. He said there is a ‘cultural soft corner’ among people which makes them find no fault in trafficking. People think it’s okay if poor parents who cannot afford to take care of their children, sell them to those who are well off. He said trafficked children may also be used for organ transplant, drug peddling, prostitution, among other things.
He said there are private nursing homes that conduct deliveries of ‘unwanted babies’ and supply them to traffickers.He said that government agencies have utterly failed to check such incidents.