New Delhi: At the end of the day it all boils down to money. Child exploitation, through child domestic labour (CDL) and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) is a "lucrative industry", reveals a report by child rights organisation, Global March Against Child Labour, as between Rs. 2-21 lakh crore ($35-360 billion) is generated through it in India every year.
To put things into perspective, the report, which was released June 12 on the World Day Against Child Labour, says that this illegal monetary pool accounts for 2-20 percent of India`s GDP. In 2012, India`s GDP was Rs.110 lakh crore.
Titled "Economics Behind Forced Labour Trafficking", the report relied on 420 cases of child domestic labour and 196 cases of commercial sexual exploitation and holds significance because it is one of the first comprehensive studies on the subject in the country that reveals the lure of big money behind child exploitation, the extensive network of beneficiaries from such exploitation and ultimately the reason why this vicious cycle continues to spin.
"It is a shocking revelation that Rs.21 lakh crore is generated by enslaving (mostly) young girls in brothels and homes that is equivalent to one-fifth of the country`s GDP. This black money propels capital corruption and most heinous crimes against girls and women," Kailash Satyarthi of the NGO said.
"The dream of development and child slavery cannot coexist. Time is running out," he added.
Terming CDL as an invisible, large-scale industry, "hidden behind private homes", the report estimates that 220-250 million people, or 15-20 percent of India`s population, represents the upper-middle and middle class. Of these, 60 percent live in urban areas and "research shows extensive trafficking of CDL to urban areas is to serve these growing upper, and upper-middle class urban families".
According to ILO in 2012, the total number of domestic workers in India is 90 million, and 20-40 percent of them - 18-36 million - are CDL. The report further estimates that the number of such children will increase by 7-17 million.
The study, which has also taken inputs from other NGOs working on child rights, finds that most children employed as domestic labourers are girls (80 percent), and are mostly in the 14-16 age group. The most common source states from where they are trafficked are Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Placement agencies play one of the biggest roles in the network of trafficking children for domestic labour and they have sourcing agents in villages to lure parents into sending their kids on the pretext of a better life.
"Seventy percent children were lured to leave their homes for high-paying jobs. The remaining children - 2 to 5 million - are either kidnapped or tricked into working as CDL, a gruesomely large number that is going unnoticed," the report said.
"Placement agencies make Rs.23-74 lakh per year by placing CDLs. In the national capital region, the market for CDL causes circulation of as much as Rs.205 crore to Rs.1,554 crore illegal money in the market," it added.
Commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), a "transnational illegal industry" because Nepal and Bangladesh are also part of the source areas, has in its well-established trafficking ring, traffickers, law enforcement officials, border guards and village goons eating into the monetary pie generated.
The study found that 60 percent victims of CSE had fallen into the trap while looking for employment - which makes CDL and CSE interconnected - since abject poverty makes victims of both to become vulnerable in the first place. The remaining 40 percent, the study says, were duped under the pretext of love or marriage or were kidnapped.
"Most individuals are unable to fathom the amount of money movement in CSE," the study says. "On a conservative level, the amount of money generated per brothel per year from CSE can range between Rs.150-1,440 lakh. This gigantic sum of money in circulation is black money raised by selling of bodies of enslaved women and girls."
"As per our most liberal estimates, the total costs incurred in CSE amounts to $19- $309 billion per year. This causes $11-34 billion to circulate in the economy as unaccounted, untaxed, illegal floating profit," the report said.
The total number of girls trafficked for CSE per year is 0.5-4 million per year. The study reveals that the "purchasing cost" is the highest for the youngest girls. So, for 10-12 year old girls it`s Rs.3-5 lakh; for 13-15 year olds it`s Rs.2-4 lakh and for 15-20 year olds it`s Rs.1-3 lakh.
The report further estimates the monetary gain made by law enforcement officials (Rs.9,000-144,000 crore), lawyers and the judiciary (Rs.18,000-309,000 crore), healthcare practioners (Rs.9,000-144,000 crore) every year via CSE in various forms, like smooth operation of brothels.
One of the key recommendations of the report, which was also shared with the union home ministry, is for the need of monetary compensation to victims of labour, abuse, and their rehabilitation. "Many states have adopted plans for (trafficked) victim compensation (ranging from Rs.25,000-200,000) but they are not yet standardised or adequate," a home ministry official was quoted as saying in the report.
Regularisation of placement agencies, integration of data for proper monitoring, sensitisation of stakeholders and the need for the external affairs ministry instead of NGOs to repatriate victims from across the border are some other recommendations.