In what would add to the growing concern over the safety of women in the city, four minor girls have been going missing in the city every day this year, while the daily average figure of missing boys stands a little above two. When it comes to the disappearance of men and women, the daily average figure stands at 12 in the corresponding period.
From January to July this year, 922 minor girls went missing, compared to 600 boys. In the case of women over 18 years, 2,547 went missing in the same period, compared to 2,527 men.
Many of the missing children are still untraceable. Figures drawn up by the Missing Persons Bureau (MPB) of Mumbai police from January 2009 to July 31, 2014, suggests that of the 10,148 minor girls who had gone missing in this period, 1,188 still remain untraced. Of the 8,028 boys who had gone missing during the same period, 912 are still to be found. This year’s half-yearly statistic indicates that the number of missing girls in the city is far higher than boys.
Lawyer Abha Singh said that the figures suggest a lack of seriousness on the part of the government and enforcement agencies in addressing the issue. “This [figure] is shocking. Something needs to be done,” she said. “Trafficking for flesh trade would be the primary reason. The girls would be abducted or tricked into elopement by agents who would push them into prostitution,” she said. “Many girls have been kidnapped and forced into child labour and begging by organised rackets. Girls who flee from home on account of family problems, peer pressure or examinations could be fewer compared to the other two reasons.”
Sushiben Shah, chairperson, state women’s commission, said, “This calls for a total change in the approach towards the safety of women.” She said a majority of the missing girls are from lower income groups, where mothers go out to work. “This makes their daughters vulnerable as traffickers and agents track them, before finally kidnapping them.”
She said the police should initiate quick investigations after a complaint is lodged for a missing girl. “If that is done, many girls would be saved and traced before they were savaged. The chalta hai attitude of the police should change,” she said.
“Action should start with the sensitisation of girls to change in the mindset of the police towards such missing complaints. And finally, the government should improve the infrastructure at shelter homes, where girls are sent after they were traced,” she said.