For years, Meena — a tea plantation worker from Assam — has been looking for her daughter. Shubham (name changed) was allegedly trafficked out of Assam four years back. She was then just 12 years old then.
When Meena started searching for her daughter in Assam, no one came to her help, not even the the police, she claimed. After several failed attempts, Meena decided to take the matter into her own hands and boarded a train to Delhi.
With just a memory of what her daughter looks like, Meena is combing every corner of the city in the hope of finding her.
“I had no option but to come down to Delhi myself and look for my daughter because officials could not give us any information. My daughter had been taken away in my absence. She was only 12 then. My other children told me that she had been forcefully taken away to Delhi to work,” she said.
Her’s is not an isolated case. Like Meena’s daughter, 127 such girls had been forcefully taken away from their homes in Lakhimpur district in Assam four years ago, never to return.
These parents, who are also in Delhi, are now running from pillar to post, looking for their daughters who were reportedly employed by placement agencies. A raid was conducted at a placement agency, but to no avail. “We had got information that one of the girls had been employed forcefully in Vibha Placement Agency in Munirka. We went there in a covert rescue operation, but the girl was missing. The police wasn’t cooperative either. The parents of the kids will camp in Delhi till they are found,” said Rakesh Senger, an activist of NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).
A number of these children are employed illegally as domestic helps, at eateries and in sweet shops, NGO members say.
“In 2010, the high court had passed guidelines for regulating placement agencies to curb trafficking of girls. Special powers to assist victims of trafficking were granted to the Delhi Commission for Women. But hardly any comprehensive action has been taken,” said Kailash Satyarthi, founder, BBA.