More than 53,000 children went missing from Madhya Pradesh between 2010 and 2015, averaging 25 disappearances each day. Girls accounted for more than 60% of this figure – most of whom continue to remain untraced.
International NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) made these revelations on Tuesday on the basis of an RTI response from the state CID’s Juvenile Aid Bureau.
The CRY report stated that 72% of the girls who went missing between 2010 and 2014 were yet to be found. Also, the fate of more than 90% girls reported missing from Gwalior, Balaghat and Anoopur districts in 2014 was still unknown, it added.
Only 13% girls and 5% boys weren’t found in last five years, claims DGP
However, Madhya Pradesh director general of police Surendra Sinh chose to disagree. “It is true that the number of girls who go missing is more than that of boys. It is also true that the number of girls who remain untraced is more than the number of untraced boys. But it’s absolutely incorrect that more than 70% girls remain untraced… only 13% girls and 5% boys weren’t found in the last five years,” he said.
CRY’s figures for child missing cases in 2015 were no better. “Despite the alarming statistics over the years and heightened awareness on the issue of missing children, data obtained from the state CID’s Juvenile Aid Bureau shows that nearly 8,000 went missing in Madhya Pradesh last year. This means 22 children went missing from the state every day on an average last year, a significant jump from 19 in 2014,” said CRY.
Majority of the missing cases pertained to girls in 12-18 age group
The report claimed a majority of the missing cases pertained to girls in the 12-18 age group. “While there are many cases of elopement, a majority of the girls are forced into domestic work and commercial sex trade,” it added.
The report counted Indore, which has witnessed the disappearance of 4,000 children since 2010, among the most unsafe districts in the state. Girls constituted over 60% of this number, it said.
The other districts that account for 32% of the missing children in the state are Bhopal (3,230 cases), Jabalpur (2,410 cases), Chhindwara (1,992 cases), Satna (1,833 cases), Rewa (1,781 cases) and Gwalior (1,438 cases).
According to the report, missing children represent “a conglomeration of various social problems ranging from kidnappings, abductions and trafficking to children fleeing their homes to escape violence and abject poverty. These missing children are most likely to become victims of heinous crimes such as rape, prostitution, child pornography, forced labour, beggary and organ trade.
Children from poverty-ridden tribal belt most vulnerable to trafficking
Lately, there has been evidence to support the theft of young children for illegal adoption. The report cited children from the poverty-ridden tribal belt as the most vulnerable to trafficking. “They are often lured to bigger cities with the promise of better jobs, and in due course of time, their families lose all hope of getting them back,” it said.
CRY regional director Soha Moitra said it was high time the state government did something to alleviate the situation. “It’s a grave concern that so many children go missing every year in Madhya Pradesh. The first few hours after the child goes missing are the most crucial in locating a child as many of them are quickly smuggled into neighbouring states. The fight over jurisdiction further delays the recovery process. Factors such as time lapse, ineffective tracking system and insufficient information database minimise the chance of these children returning home,” she said.
7,797 children went missing last year
4,000 children missing from Indore alone
24 children go missing every day on an average
60% of them are girls
72% of all girls kidnapped are never found
Abduction, trafficking and fleeing violent or poor families are the typical reasons
Where they end up
Victims of rape, prostitution, child pornography, forced labour, begging and organ trade