04/06/2007, 00.00
INDIA
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Sold as slaves, children are cheaper than animals

Poverty and lack of education are some of the causes behind child trafficking in India. Children who are sold end up toiling on farms, as waiters or sex workers.

New Delhi (AsiaNews) – Child trafficking has become an endemic problem in the poorest villages of India according Bhuvan Ribhu from the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save Childhood Movement). The child rights activist told the Reuters news agency on Tuesday that children represent 40 to 50 per cent of all the victims in human trafficking.

Children, who are cheaper than animals, are sold by their families to work as domestic labourers, in the carpet industry, on farms or as sex workers.

In fact, whilst “buffaloes may cost up to Rs 15,000, children are sold at prices between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000,” Mr Ribhu was quoted as saying.

For instance, two brothers in Bihar were recently given away for Rs 250 (US$ 6) each by their parents and trafficked out of the state in connivance with police, he said.

The traffickers-police connection was so strong in some parts of the country that traffickers scout freely and children rescued from brothels and bonded labour were often victims again, he said.

The Deccan Herald News Service reported recently that at least two couples in one area have given away their newborn girls in the last six months. To justify their decision, parents said that they are unable to feed their children and so resort to selling them.

In the latest case, construction worker Ramaswamy (38) and his wife Sakkibai (26) gave away their 15-day-old girl child to a doctor in Bangalore.

“When I have work, I get around Rs 30 or Rs 40 daily. With this kind of earnings, how are we supposed to run a family with three girl children?” said Ramaswamy.

Similar story with Geetabai and her husband Pandunayaka. “We don’t even have a house to stay in, and already have two children,” she said. So her two-month son was given away last year.

For A.R. Govindaswamy, from the Karnataka Banjara (Lambani) Students Federation, “poverty, superstitions and the lack of education, roads and electricity have dogged the tribe for long. The bitter part is that even schemes planned for the tribe don’t reach them due to local politics.” (NC)

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