Covid-19 made poor more vulnerable to child trafficking, say NGOs -Sushmita Ghosh
Activists say that despite the Covid-19 restrictions in places, cases of child trafficking continue to rise unabated.
On June 4, Pooja (name changed) was rescued from her employer’s house in Patna. At 10, Pooja had been working as a domestic help for about a year. She was taken by child traffickers in June 2020, when the country was exiting from a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.
After a year of child labour, she was rescued by Dhawa Dal- a task force constituted by the Bihar's Department of Labour Resources Department with the help of Suresh Kumar, Executive Director of Centre DIRECT, an NGO working for the empowerment of women, youth and children. Pooja told her rescuers that she was maltreated by her employers, who used to beat her thrice a day as a matter of routine on one pretext or the other. She had bruises on her body when she was rescued on June 4, the NGO said.
The alleged child traffickers had taken Pooja after luring her parents — living in East Champaran district of Bihar — in the name of giving their daughter a good education and a bright future. The main accused was identified as one Mukesh Aggarwal.
Pooja was not the only child to have been trafficked during Covid-19 for labour. According to Patna’s Centre DIRECT, 362 children were rescued in 2020 and another 136 have been rescued so far in 2021 — all working in factories of Jaipur. The average age of these children was 10 years.
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IndiaToday.com, 8 June, 2021, https://www.indiatoday.in/coronavirus-outbreak/story/covid-19-poor-marginalised-vulnerability-child-trafficking-ngos-1812519-2021-06-08