Before we lose another child in the drain

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Before we lose another child in the drain
New Delhi, Nov 25: A video, originally uploaded by an NGO called Bachpan Bachao Andolan, and shared on a website called with a caption "When I Figured Out What This Girl Is Doing, I Felt Sick To My Stomach" is going viral on social networking sites.

The video starts with a prettily dressed little girl waiting by a busy road, late in the evening. She has fear in her eyes, which no one seems to notice. She throws glances around, before finally crossing the road and walking towards a car parked at a corner. She turns back and looks at an old cane juice maker who is watching her from across the road. He gestures at her, asking her to go ahead. Trembling, she enters the car. The man at the driving seat gives her an evil smile, touches her thighs and passes her a bar of chocolate.

The video asks us not to look away from one of the most henious crimes of our times - Forced child prostition.

Uploaded last week on Youtube, the video has already been watched by 1,73,444 people (as on Monday afternoon). On website, the video has been shared around 49000 times on Facebook and around 380 times on Google plus.

The message the video conveys is very moving. According to the UN data collected in 2010, the number of children engaged in prostitution in Indian metropolitan cities range from 270,000 to 400,000. Experts say the figure hasn't gone down. The issue of child prostitution and child abuse is not limited to any country, it is a global issue. The one who pushes her into the profession could be her relatives, family friends or sometimes her own parents. The oldman in the video could be the child's grandfather or a random 'broker' arranged by her relatives. These are not exaggerated facts, but facts which are very well happening around us.

Prostitution based out of various pilgrim towns, sex tourism etc are not new to India. Reports say India is a popular sex tourism spot . Local guides in various cities help the tourists get 'escort services', a very lucrative business which operates alongside tourism.

Lack of education, poverty, caste system are some of the factors which push female children into prostitution. And above all, there is well-knitted networks in and outside the country which capture and force kids into prostitution. Last year, slate magazine published an article on a community in Gujarat, in which children are married off at the age of 10 to avpid them becoming child prostitutes.

With the advent of internet and technology, child prostitutes are often forced to feature in child porn videos and sex tapes.

Recently, a Dutch organisation made a cyber trap for sexual predators on internet. They developed a virtual Philippino child called 'Sweetie' and researchers posed as the girl on public chat rooms on internet. The work went on for around 3 months and during the time, around 2000 peodophiles from over 71 countries. Interestingly, Britain topped the list, followed by USA and India. Reportedly, the predators agreed to pay Sweetie to see her naked on video.

Recently, leading search engine companies Google and Microsoft agreed to take measures to make it harder to find child abuse images online, thanks to efforts by David Cameron, Prime Minister of UK. Around 100,000 search terms will now return no results but warnings that child abuse is illegal.

But experts and child rights activists are more or less happy about the move. According to them, more materials related to child porn are circulated in private networks and as DVDs. Banning search terms online will hardly make any difference, they feel.Putting an end to this crime is not all easy, the activists feel. Many people working in police department , various rights organisations, government etc are part of child trafficking networks which makes the task of rescuing kids extremely tough.

In 2010, based on a petition filed by a child rights NGO, Supreme Court of India sought to know why state governments are not doing anything to stop child prostitution. What surprised the apex court was that the police were not filing section 376 IPC (rape) against criminals who exploit children in sex rackets. " If you do it in 10 cases, they will fall like a pack of cards. Courts will also not grant bail to them. Unfortunately, we are putting such sex workers to a lot of problem forcing them to face criminal prosecution", said the court.
Even today, situation has not changed at all. Victims continue to get harassed and prosecuted while the predators, peodophiles operate freely, luring their next prey with a bar of chocolate.

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