Rashi Aditi Ghosh/Zee Research Group
Contrary to popular perception, there is a greater chance that boys who are missing remain untraced. As of August this year 60 per cent of missing boys in comparison to 57.7 per cent of missing girls remained untraced.
Hundreds of innocent children go missing every year but only few come back to be with their parents. Then what happens to the children who never find their way home? In fact, there is no greater vacuum, no greater void than the helplessness felt by parents whose children have gone missing.
India is celebrating its 49th Children’s Day today but when it comes to child protection measures the country is yet to ensure optimum safety to its children. A report by the ministry of home affairs released on August 31 this year shows that 58.6 per cent of missing children are still untraced in India.
Ironically, the number of untraced children is on the rise. In 2012, 41.4 per cent of the missing children were untraced.
Talking about the limitations of government measures, Mamata Sahai, member of Delhi Commission for Protection of child rights (DCPCR) said, “Despite running ‘National Portal On Missing and & Tracked Children’, government is not able to ensure optimum safety to children because the portal can only be availed in areas with Internet connectivity. Unfortunately many parts of the country are still not connected.”
A closer look into the home ministry’s report also shows that chances of a missing boy being found are less bright than that of a girl.
In 2013, 60 per cent of missing boys in comparison to 57.7 per cent of missing girls are still untraced.
Commenting on the lack of political will to enforce child protection in India, Kailash Satyarthi, founder of ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’, a Delhi-based NGO working against child labour said, “It is unfortunate that despite directions by the Supreme Court of India on missing children the government mechanisms failed to curb this growing menace. The SC directed in May this year that all cases of missing children in India be registered as a cognizable offence (as First Information Report) and investigated.”
The home ministry report further reveals that Andhra Pradesh followed by Delhi and Tamil Nadu registered highest number of missing children in 2013 (as of August this year).
Reasoning lack of standard operating system for tracking missing children, Rakesh Sengar of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) said, “Delhi has second highest number of missing children because of its overflowing migratory population. Many children from the capital are stolen and sold into slavery and unfortunately there is no standard mechanism to track the missing children. There are instances where a police station is not aware of a missing complaint in another police station in the same city.”
Childline India Foundation (supported by the ministry of women and child development through a mother NGO), a 24-hour toll free emergency outreach telephone service (1098) for children in distress, has so far covered only 269 cities out of 497 cities listed in the Census of India. (as of March 13th, 2013).