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The 10 Year Old Raju Working In A Nearby Dhaba Left Me Speechless By Asking An Honest Question.

Two days ago, our university results were announced and I got a backlog. Deep inside, I was frustrated and out of overreaction I spelt out these words that made me look facile in my group.

“Saala Raju poore maze me hai! Naa parhai likhai, na tension. Bartan Dhota hai aur maze krta hai.”

Everyone in the group gave me a weird look and I realized what I just said!

Raju, who was only 10 years old, worked in a nearby dhaba. His parents were dead and his uncle sold him for a small sum, as he said it was not possible for him to take care of Raju. At least this way he will earn something and feed himself.

To celebrate the birthday of one of our friends we went to that dhaba. We were busy clicking photos in our smart phones when Raju showed up and very innocently asked us something that left us dumbstruck. We were out of words.

“Bhaiyaa! Jab hum bhi engineering karenge to humko bhi aisa phone milega na?” Poor guy! But let me remind you Raju was only one example of the darker side of a saga that exists worldwide including India.

According to a study, every year 44,000 children fall into the hands of traffickers. The main reason for child trafficking is poverty and illiteracy. The parents who themselves are uneducated, in exchange for a small amount of money; sell their children in the hands of traffickers not realizing the fate that awaits them in the future. These children are used in illegal trades, forced labor and are employed in hazardous industries. The cracker industry and the beedi rolling industry are to name some.

Another heart rendering aspect of child trafficking is sexual exploitation in the brothels, both nationally and beyond the national borders. According to the statistics, around 12,000 to 50,000 children are trafficked from neighboring states for sex trade. You will be shocked to know that the girls of age 10-12 years are given overdoses of hormonal injections and medicines to grow their breasts that increase their value in the flesh trade.

There are 300,000 child beggars in India, most of them victims of child trafficking. It so happens that their limbs are forcibly amputed and they are blinded as they make more money. Also their organs are extracted which are sold illegally.

There are placement agencies operating in the backward regions like Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, who lure the children and their families promising better facilities like education, food and job, but once they reach their destinations they are sold as unwaged laborers or household maids. This is very common in Delhi-NCR region.

The government of India had enacted the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013 (CLA). This includes anyone who recruits, transports, harbours, transfers or receives a person using means like forcing, coercing, threatening, fraud, deception, abuse of power or inducement for purpose of exploitation. The minimum sentence is 7 years of rigorous imprisonment which adds up if the victim is a minor.

Apne Aap Women worldwide that works to empower girls and targets to end sex trafficking. They have organized self-help groups to encourage girls to work collectively and access their legal, social and political rights. Child line is another such organization that is responsible for rescuing children from clutches of child traffickers.

We as citizens can do our part by reporting suspicious activities to the authorities and together with police and law this can be removed permanently from India. A time will definitely come when Raju will also become an engineer!

This post is a part of our #SaveTheKids Campaign. To check out more posts from this campaign, click here.

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