Every year hundreds of thousands of children go missing around the world. Some are run-away from broken families, some abducted, and some forcibly separated from one parents by the other. The great majority of children belonging to the first two categories – ends up in sexual abusive environment, begging, child labour and child soldiers.
Since 1984, Americans celebrate May 25 as the Missing Children Day. However, one child go missing every 40 seconds, 2,100 per day, 800,000 per year while another 500,000 are not reported – accoding to the Office of Juvenile Justice. According to US Justice Department statistic, 29-31% of the American children under the age of five – are killed by their parents while 23% were killed by male acquaintances.
In Britain, a child goes missing every five minutes and in India, over 200,000 childrens go missing each year. In Malaysia, close to 6,000 children were reported missing in 2007. University of Haifa Study 2005 on Child Abuse stated: “Overall, 65% of 26,446 children made allegations when interviewed, but rate of disclosure were greater in the cases of sexual (71%) than physical (61%) abuse. Children of all ages were less likely to disclose/allegation abuse when a parent was the suspected perpetrator. Rates of disclosure/allegation increased as children grew older, with 50% of the 3- to 6-year-olds, 67% of the 7-to 10-year-olds, and 74% of the 11-to 14-year-olds disclosing abuse when questioned.
Children have been forced to fight as soldiers in several rebel groups fighting the government forces in Sudan, Uganda, Philippines, Nepal, Indonesia, Burma, India, Sri Lanka, etc.
According to the Global Report 2008 - Israel military recruits young boys and girls of ages 14 and up and train them to serve as future active members of the Israel Occupation Force (IOF) or military Reserves. The later have to serve the military whenever called upon. Every Israeli Jewish teanager (16-year-old and up) to serve IOF for 24-36 months – which makes the entire Israeli population over 14-year-old as ‘combatant enemy’ for Palestinians and Lebanese. Early this year, Belgium government put a ban on arms sale to Israel (Ha’aretz, April 25, 2009) accusing the Zionist entity for accepting and arming underage volunteers – and using “underage Palestinians as informants and sometimes human shields”.
Ajay Uprety’s article ‘Where are our kids’ in The Week magazine (July 19, 2009):
Eight-year-old Vishal Kumar was forced into begging at the railway station and often beaten up if the collection was small. He was sexually abused by older boys, cops and his ‘ustad’ (master), who ushered him into begging. His friends introduced him to liquor and theft. “I was beaten up four to five times every day, sometimes with iron rods, steel pipes or barbed wires. Four dry chapatis were my meal after the day’s work. Nights were horrible. I had to entertain sex-starved cops and my master. Refusal meant severe thrashing. Sometimes I had to sleep with three to four men,” Vishal recalled
In Mumbai, 4,297 children went missing in 2006, and 3,748 in 2007. Twenty children were reported missing from Manipur, till May 2008. Here, militant groups are suspected of recruiting child soldiers. In July last year, the underground PREPAK (People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak) reportedly paraded “child soldiers” before the media and claimed it was “voluntary” enrolment. The United Liberation Front of Asom, too, is known to recruit children for its activities.
An investigative report of the BBA in 2007 said traffickers in India often sold children cheaper than animals. “While a good breed of buffalo sells for Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000, children are sold for just Rs 500 to Rs 3,000,” a BBA activist told THE WEEK. The father of a missing child said child trafficking is a very serious issue, but taken lightly in India. “For us, days turn into months and months into years, and we make endless rounds of police stations in the vain hope they will trace our lost child some day. But nothing happens.” Clearly, it is action on the part of the government that is missing.