Khushi a three year old girl and her old grandmother were lost in the thick crowds of ‘Dhammachakra Din’ at Deekshabhoomi grounds this year. The Mother and Father of Khushi went insane trying to find her. The Mother was a part time maid with us and she voluntarily discontinued her job as she went berserk with her emotions. The old grandmother- her mother-in-law also went missing. My Mother and I too went crazy with the horror of what might have happened to them both. Our fantasies ran typically- the old lady would have been dropped somewhere on the way and the girl was kidnapped for some reasons which we can all collectively imagine and cringe our guts out. Till today they have not been found in spite of complaining at several police posts and to several policemen on duty at the pilgrimage centre.
True to her name Khushi, the three year old babe was a happy bright chirpy kid. She was intelligent and doing well at school. Her parents had high hopes pinned on her as they had decided to give her the best of education according to their means. We had helped in a small way to get her admitted to a private school instead of the normal schools that such children normally go. She was full of beans and would come and recite all the poems and nursery rhymes that she had mugged up successfully. She was snatched away from the warmth and the security of her mother’s lap and was now lost to the world forever. The whole affair was so shocking and sordid. It gave us many sleepless nights and still makes us shudder in horror. We had seen it in the movies so many times but this was fact not fiction.
The truth of human trafficking of innocent girl children from all segments of society each day of the year is a reality we would like to ignore and deny. Commercial sex slavery is a multi-crore rupee racket globally. It is perhaps the biggest organised crime all over the world. I heard a passionate speech by a young woman named Sunitha Krishnan who has made her life’s crusade to rescue and save such girls who have been trafficked for commercial sex slavery. She aims to galvanise not only the government but also bring around the corporate houses and the NGO’s on a united platform to raise awareness and fight the menace. She bravely talks in open forums of her own gang rape at the tender age of fifteen years and fervently appeals to citizens for humane understanding and support for such victims. She recalls how she was stigmatised and ostracised for almost two years before she stood up and fought for herself. She gives case studies of as young as three to four year old baby girls whom she has rescued from sex trafficking and requests people from civil society to come forward to rehabilitate them. She speaks of the difficulties she encounters in this herculean task as most people suffer from prejudices and would instead ostracise them and keep them away from their personal lives. She trains such rescued girls in various skills and gets them employed in industries and workshops.
Besides the commercial sex slavery there are other reasons for which kids are kidnapped. We have all heard about it- it could be for illegal organ trade, for camel jockeying, or for making them bonded labour. Humanists agree that every sane and civil person should raise their voice against such crimes against women. That the civil society has to oppose all such criminal happenings seems alright for making statements. The civil society’s role comes in at the time of rehabilitating victims of this crime. It is perfectly justified to say that civil society must rise in unison to ensure honourable re-instatement of victims in mainstream of social life. Yet all this cannot be done if the girls, like the daughter of our maid, are never rescued from the hell into which they may have been pushed. This act of rescue is act of policing and not of social activists alone.
It is most unfortunate that the police in free India have proved singularly ineffective in this regard. This is due to two main reasons: one, the psychological unwillingness and apathy of the police force to do the right thing to prevent such crimes; and two, sheer incompetence of the police force in handling such crimes that devastate countless thousands of families around the country each year. There is a third reason too, that is, the police force has vast numbers of elements that are hand in glove with the gang of criminals that perpetrate such crimes. The blame also goes to the doorstep of the government in whose political thinking such crimes play no part. On the contrary, there are reasons to believe that the criminals who indulge in heinous acts are well connected with politicians, which is why no action has ever been taken in a concerted manner to ensure that little girls are never snatched away from the warmth of their mothers lap.
Published in Hitavada Womens World on 6 Jan 2010