Abuse at home makes kids go missing: Survey

Kolkata, Oct 5 (IANS): West Bengal ranks second in the country with respect to the number of missing children, an NGO official said Saturday, adding that the abuse children face at home was one big reason why they run away, exposing themselves to trafficking.

Additional Director Rajib K. Halder of international NGO Child In Need Institute (CINI) said the mapping of missing children in West Bengal was undertaken in collaborated with Plan International, under the Missing Child Alert project (MCA) run by Plan.

The results of the mapping will be revealed Monday.

"For the last three months, we have done a mapping project to know from which districts, which areas the children go missing. A spotting has being done and the biggest revelation is the failure of the safety-net at home and school. This is the biggest issue," Halder told IANS ahead of the unveiling of the report.

Abuse at the hands of members of the family forces children to leave home, and many of them end up getting trafficked to Bangladesh and Nepal. This has garnered widespread attention among SAARC countries of Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

"Child abuse at home has serious repercussions. NGOs are not interested, police is not interested and government is not interested. It's an issue of south Asia. Our young boys and girls are trafficked to Bangladesh and Nepal. Therefore the state loses a large number of children every year," he said.

Stating that 54 percent of child sex abuse incidences occur at home, Halder said factors like poverty also play additional roles in trafficking.

The strategic location of West Bengal, bordering Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan and also serving as a gateway to the north east, plays a crucial role in cross-border child trafficking.

The project led to the identification of key districts in the state from where children go missing.

"Districts are listed now and the prime districts have been identified. This will be the basis for the state government's plan of action," said Halder, adding that as many as 4,000 children go missing in one district (South 24-Parganas) in a year.

Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world and runs the MCA project in Bangladesh, India and Nepal with participation from Pakistan.

The mapping project has been also carried out in Uttar Pradesh, the state from which the largest number of children go missing each year, and Bihar.


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