Missionaries or Traffickers?
Earlier this month I wrote a post about the church missionaries in Haiti who had been detained on trafficking charges for attempting to take children out of the country illegally.
In India, recently such actions have come under more intense scrutiny, with a rising number of child traffickers disguising themselves as missionaries in order to gain trust. Northern India is a region of the country with a large Christian population, and traffickers are exploiting this in order to present themselves as evangelists or missionaries who promise a better future for children.
It is believed that the children, aged from around six to 15, are being taken to unregistered children’s homes where they are kept in poor conditions and made to do menial work like cooking and laundry. There have been reports of children dying in suspicious circumstances and of others being molested and abused.
“These institutions exploit religion to make money. With many of them not registered with the government, the homes escape scrutiny,” Vidya Reddy of Tulir of the Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse was quoted as saying by Times of India. You can read the full story here.
In other, more uplifting news, some children in India have taken it upon themselves to conduct studies and report to the UN on the status of child rights in the country. Since 1992, the Indian government is required to submit a report on child rights to the U.N. After waiting more than a year to be heard and accounted in this report, at least 27 children from the state of Gujurat took matters into their own hands, surveying more than 700 children and writing their own report.
This alternative report focused on four predominant children’s rights: right to survival; right to develop; right to protection against exploitation and right to participation. Children across state complained that doctors were missing from the government clinics in their community; shared their frustration against caste discrimination in schools. They were also agitated due to inefficiency in distribution of school meals and sanitation on school campuses.
Surely this strong action to ensure that their voices are heard is a step in the right direction, for demanding the rights to which they are entitled.