Sun, Oct 15, 2017 - Page 4 News List

India urged to punish men who buy sex with children

Thomson Reuters Foundation, NEW DELHI

India must target the “customers” of the sex trade and choke demand if the nation is serious about ending the commercial sexual exploitation of children, experts said on Friday.

Thousands of children largely from poor rural families are lured or abducted by traffickers every year in India and sold to pimps and brothels who force them into sexual slavery.

While the government has introduced a plethora of measures to combat the crime over the years — from strengthening laws to boosting social welfare schemes to uplift the impoverished — reports of young girls being sold for sex are rising.

Police officials, scholars and politicians say this was mainly due to the poor enforcement of legislation and are calling on the government to focus on the men who buy sex with minors, adding that certainty of punishment is the best deterrent.

“At the center of commercial sex exploitation lies the customer,” said PM Nair, chair professor and research coordinator on human trafficking at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai, who is launching a new report to combat the crime.

“We can focus on the traffickers, the transporters, the pimps and the brothel owners, but the fact remains that at the center of it all is the customer. Yet prosecutions of customers are rare, if at all, in most states in India,” Nair said.

Unless the authorities take a “customer-centric” approach to combating the buying and selling of children for sex and chokes the demand, India will not be able stop the crime, Nair added.

India has one of largest populations of children in the world, with more than 40 percent of its 1.2 billion people below the age of 18, according to its 2011 census.

An economic boom of the past two decades has lifted millions out of poverty, but many children are still born into dire circumstances. India is home to more than 30 percent of the world’s 385 million most-impoverished children, the World Bank says.

They make easy prey for traffickers, fed promises of a job and a better life, but often ending up in various forms of forced labor.

Nearly 20,000 women and children last year were victims of human trafficking in India, a rise of nearly 25 percent from the previous year, government data show.

They loiter at traffic lights in cities, weaving between cars and knocking on windows to beg; or wash dishes in makeshift roadside eateries; or toil in the heat of cotton, rice and maize fields, exposed to toxic pesticides.

In wealthy middle-class homes, they clean and care for children sometimes older than themselves and in brothels, they wait with painted faces to be raped by stranger after stranger.

While some children manage to escape or are rescued in police raids after tip-offs from activists or local residents, others are not so fortunate.

The demand to focus on the men who buy sex is one of a series of measures in the report by the National Coalition to Protect Our Children, an initiative started by Indian Legislator Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Other recommendations include establishing a database on missing children, boosting training and resources for law enforcement agencies and establishing special children’s courts.

“The abject poverty that most parts of our country still face is an enabling environment for child trafficking and to further compound this, there is a lack of institutional organization to protect our children,” Chandrasekhar said. “There are laws to prosecute the customers, but they are not being enforced.”

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top