Home arrow Archives arrow Open Forum arrow Open Forum 2006 arrow Karnataka A Soft State:ALARMING RISE IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING, Radhakrishna Rao, 4 May 2006
News and Features
INFA Digest
Parliament Spotlight
Journalism Awards
Karnataka A Soft State:ALARMING RISE IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING, Radhakrishna Rao, 4 May 2006 Print E-mail


New Delhi, 4 May 2006

Karnataka A Soft State


By Radhakrishna Rao

Karnataka, known for its IT industry and cutting edge technological ventures, unfortunately, holds the dubious distinction of receiving a large number of children from various parts of India for both labour and sexual exploitation.  In fact, a study by an agency of the US Government reveals that many child trafficking syndicates use the State as a convenient transit point.

As things stand now, child traffickers consider Karnataka to be a soft State.  Not surprisingly then, children from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttaranchal are trafficked to Karnataka and in some instances sent out of the country by using the State as a transit point. 

Normally, children who are trafficked, are employed as bonded workers, construction labour and hotel workers. Further, they are also used in circuses and for sexual exploitation.  Widespread poverty and social deprivation in various parts of the country are being exploited by traffickers who stand to make a hefty profit by selling them to the highest bidders.

However, it would be wrong to assume that child trafficking is resorted to by a small group of criminal syndicates. In fact, nursing homes, orphanages, adoption agencies, voluntary organizations, non-Government organizations and even religious and charitable institutions abet the child trafficking in a sophisticated manner. 

Under the guise of promoting adoption, these agencies indulge in illegal, unethical and fraudulent means to “sell children” in the burgeoning global market for “child adoption”.  As it is, a few nursing homes and adoption agencies in both Bangalore and Chennai have come under the surveillance of law enforcing agencies for their “notorious role” in promoting child trafficking under the guise of adoption.

Clearly and apparently, the “adoption racket” is a highly sophisticated, well-organized and meticulously planned and carefully implanted multi-billion rupees business venture involving a network of nursing homes, government hospitals, social service organizations and adoption agencies.  Last year, the suspicious Chennai police were able to bust a thriving racket in child trafficking following the arrest of a professional bootlegger. 

Further probe and deeper investigation led the law enforcing agencies to the doorsteps of Malaysia Social Service Centre (MSSC), an officially recognized adoption agency.  Subsequently, it was found that the agency managed to send more than 100 children to countries around the world, including Finland and the Netherlands.  Subsequently, the agency was charged with the offence of indulging in forgery, fraud and falsehood.  Indeed, the law enforcing agencies have gathered sufficient proof to show that children are sold to foreign parents under the cover of “adoption” by providing false information and bogus documents.

According to studies by UNICEF, illegal and unethical inter-country adoption racket flourishes across the world, including India.  For instance, the poor and backward Lambani tribals in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh are lured into parting with their new borns with the offer of money and material inducements. 

In this context, Shalini Misra, a former Director of the Andhra Pradesh Women and Child Welfare Development Department says: “I saw a chain of agents luring the Lambani tribal women when they are pregnant. The agents tell them if it is a male child you keep it, it is a girl you won’t be able to keep her because of your poverty. So you give her to us and we will take care of her and will give you money”.

In the insurgency-ridden Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, young girls from the poor rural families – some of whom are just 11 years old – are lured to enter the “flesh trade” in the red light areas of India.  According to a Kathmandu-based voluntary organization, more than 2,00,000 Nepalese girls are currently forced to work in the brothels in the urban centres of India. A report from the Nepalese Government says that about one-fifth of the sex workers of Nepalese origin forced to sell their bodies in the red light areas of India are under 16 years of age.

Indeed, anti-slavery agencies have all along been telling that Asian child sex business  In the red light area of Bangkok and Pattaya, young girls from the socially-deprived rural backyards are forced to toil as sex workers to support their families back home.  The teeming and thickly populated Manila in the Philippines too has its quota of child sex workers.  And the situation in Cambodia, which has more than 10,000 child sex workers luring customers in the capital city of Phnom Penh is no better. continues to boom, despite tighter laws.

“Mekong region is a hotspot of human trafficking”, says Jordan Ryan, a UN Development consultant. Ryan drives home the point that Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are in particular vulnerable to human trafficking. As sociologists point out, the fast growing economy of the areas has contributed in a big way to the widening gap between the rich and the poor, resulting in the rapid proliferation of trafficking syndicates that target children and young women.  Of course, law enforcing agencies in the Mekong region consider battle against human trafficking a tough and challenging task.

For many years now, media has been focussing on poor Filipino and Russian women serving as sex slaves in the bars and night clubs, catering to US military bases in South Korea.  And the sex crimes involving American soldiers ignite local resentment against the presence of the American army on the South Korean soil.

Nearer home, the pernicious practice of poor young Muslim girls from Andhra Pradesh and Kerala being forced to marry elderly Arabs, who abandon these unfortunate girls after satiating their carnal desires, continues to persist, notwithstanding protests from various corners.  In recent years, poor Muslim girls from the Malabar region of Kerala, marrying men from Maldives only to be abandoned later, have received sufficient coverage in the media.

But their following the sustained campaign by global anti-slavery groups, the use of impoverished young children from South Asian countries as jockeys in the camel races, a popular past time in the Gulf countries has come to an end. Many of these young children, some as young as five years, would not only sustain serious injuries but also die on the race track after being dragged forward by the frightened camels.

Indeed, with the ship of desert turning into a vehicle of ultimate pleasure, child jockeys from the urban shanties of South Asia became silent victims of untold suffering. These young, terror stricken boys used to be tied down on the back of their mount. Eager hands gave the camel the first push as the race takes off. The painful experience of being tied to the camel’s back made the child jockeys cry out aloud. The continuous cry of the frightened boys spurred the animals run faster and faster.  The children’s cry of pain would turn into screams of dread, which made the camels run even faster.

As the races come to end, these jockeys would be removed from the back of the camels. Some would be dead from shock, while many would turn cripples and psychological wreck. Luckily with the introduction of remote-controlled mechanical jockeys, this practice has become a thing of the past.  But then the exploitation of children in many other sectors continues unabated.---INFA

 (Copyright, India News and Feature Alliance)

















< Previous   Next >
  Mambo powered by Best-IT