233 missing children rescued from railway station last year
A whopping 233 missing children were found at the city railway station last year, figures shared by Childline helpline have revealed.
The helpline is run by Childline India Foundation (CIF), the nodal agency of the Union ministry of women and child development.
Of the total children, rescued between January 1 and December 31, 2019, 155 (66%) were boys. The highest number of missing children — at 42 — were found in December, among them 26 boys and 16 girls.
Kulwinder Singh, coordinator, Childline, said the helpline in collaboration with the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police rescued 233 children in 246 cases, while in the remaining 13 cases, the children could not be located at the spot that the alerts came from.
“Of the 233 children, 81% (189) were reunited with their families, while 44 children were sent to the shelter home,” he said, adding 15 of the rescued boys were found begging on the station premises.
He said most of the 155 boys rescued were aged between nine and 14, while among girls, majority were in the age group of 10-17 years.
PARENTAL CONFLICT PRIME CAUSE
Kuldeep Singh Mann, director, Childline Ludhiana, said as per their observation, over 40% of the rescued children had fled home due to conflict between their parents. “In some cases, the parents were not living together, affecting the child’s care, while in other cases, several parents living together were constantly fighting, affecting their child emotionally and prompting them to flee home,” he said, adding that some of these children were even facing abuse at home.
He said in January, they had rescued a 14-year-old girl, hailing from Nakodar, from the city railway station. “The girl had fled home as her mother and her lover were forcing her to get married in Mumbai. The child’s custody was handed over to her father, who was living separately in Ludhiana, while the mother was booked for child trafficking and selling the girl for prostitution,” Kuldeep said.
MOST GIRLS ELOPING
Kulwinder said they had also noticed that most of the teen girls were eloping for “love marriage”.
“But often, the boy refused to marry them. Afraid of their parents, the girls were reluctant to return home and were found wandering at the railway station or bus stand,” he said, adding that this was a worrying development as underage girls easily fell prey to sexual assaults due their naivety.
PREDATORS LURKING IN PUBLIC PLACES
Kuldeep said traffickers, including women, recced public areas, such as the railway station and bus stand, to find abandoned children, and lured them into prostitution. He said they will soon meet the police commissioner to help track sex trafficking predators in public places and save children from exploitation.