Break The Silence Around Commercial Sexual Exploitation Of Children

Child abuse, sexual exploitation of children for commercial gains, child trafficking whatever you call it! Somewhere we have failed as a society to give our children a safe haven to live and grow. If one looks into the dismal statistics by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), specifically on crimes against children, dismay strikes further high. One of the most organized crimes existing in our modern world is human trafficking, yet it seldom gets mainstream attention. It hardly matters to us as long as it doesn’t affect us directly.

On this much-needed issue which deserves more such public discourses and constant action, was a  panel discussion jointly organized by Youth Ki Awaaz and at Sheroes Hangout in Lucknow on June 23, 2018, for the beginning of a conversation on commercial sexual exploitation of children.

The event started with the screening of “Amoli”, a 30-minute documentary by National Award winner Jasmine Kaur and Avinash Roy that depicts the reality of commercial sexual exploitation of children in India, followed by an engaging panel discussion with some eminent people fighting child abuse and exploitation. The panellists were:

Ministhy Nair, IAS Officer – she threw light on how to stop commercial sexual exploitation of children; Sonal Kapoor, Founder, Protsahan India Foundation reflected upon her work and encouraged as well as appealed to all present on how each one can support and contribute in someway to rehabilitate children rescued from the sex trafficking trade. Melita Fernandes, Advocate, International Justice Mission shed light on the legal aspects of laws and procedures and how we can help put an end to sex trafficking. Jasmine Kaur and Avinash Roy also shared their inputs to fight child sex exploitation. Following are some of the takeaways from the discussion forum and in general and breaking the silence around child exploitation:

“Around 8,000 were the number of missing cases of children reported. But the number of children missing (acc. to newspapers etc.) were 80,000! If 3,00,000 go missing, 1,00,000 children remain untraced,” said Nair. Everyone admitted that there exists a complete nexus which facilitates easy trafficking of people, young girls are lured or sold for commercial sex trafficking, illegal documents pave way for minor girls traded as commodities for endless exploitation and monetary gains. Most of the times perpetrators of the crime go unpunished and it is the child who suffers and is ostracized by the society.

The trafficking of children for commercial sexual exploitation or for any other form exploitation isn’t an issue which needs attention just from the government machinery, legal agencies or a handful of rescue and rehabilitation agencies/NGOs or a handful of people. Child sex abuse or child trafficking is an issue which is of grave concern and needs the spotlight and a concerted attention and action oriented advocacy from every responsible individual who is part of a society.

It is easy to point fingers or simply ignore but even if a single voice is raised against a child’s exploitation it makes a huge difference into the life of one such child, this is what matters and this is what should matter. It can be a simple call to a child helpline for rescue or it might be volunteering one’s time with a certain level of commitment to organisations working with the survivors of such crimes. Spending some time in shelter homes, listening to the victims’ stories and making an effort towards their mental or psychological healing or productive engagement. One can design posters, write slogans, run an online petition or just start a conversation on social media and break the numb silence on this issue.

Most of the times, the primary cause of commercial sexual exploitation of minor girls is poverty and hence economic empowerment of such girls is one step towards positive action.

If the problem of child sex abuse is to be addressed properly, all should be a part of the solution; the government, NGOs, civil society, media, pressure groups, small and big corporate, common people together tackling this sort of an organized crime. Every action is part of a solution! Also, some sort of accountability should exist on the part of the governmental machinery engaged in the rescue and rehabilitation of child victims/survivors to ascertain positive results.

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