‘Child trafficking a serious problem’

PATNA: Social welfare minister Parveen Amanullah said on Saturday that trafficking of children for work was a serious problem in the state, specially in the districts falling in the basin of the Kosi, requiring long-term measures to prevent it.

Amanullah, who released the report titled ‘Stolen Childhoods: A Study of Child Trafficking in the Kosi Region of Bihar’, prepared by an organization, ‘Save the Children’, with focus on Khagaria and Araria districts, added that a massive mass awareness drive was the need of the hour.

She said that several social security measures being implemented under the aegis of her department addressed the problems facing families afflicted with poverty and those in the old-age category. Besides, quite a few schemes had been launched for income generation activities in the below poverty line (BPL) families, she said, adding at the same time that trafficking of children, including girl children, for work and other subhuman activities, when they should be at schools, was the most serious problem in the districts concerned.

Among those who also spoke on the occasion were labour resources department principal secretary Vyasji and ‘Save the Children’ representative Alex George. A question-answer session also followed, in which the representatives of participating NGOs and Unicef also took part.

Vyasji said the problem of child labour has been plaguing a number of districts, adding that his department had taken a number of steps to free children engaged in several activities, including as domestic helps, but the problem has continued to plague the society.

He called upon NGOs and civil societies not to engage just in isolated piecemeal activities to free child labour and to prevent trafficking of children, but to launch a concerted “movement” in the state to eradicate both child labour and trafficking of children. “It, of course, requires massive awareness campaign, coupled with addressing problems at the grassroots level,” Vyasji said.

The ‘Save the Children’ report on trafficking of children with respect to Khagaria and Araria districts, which constitute the peripheral areas of the flood plain in the Kosi basin, has noted that trafficking of children in the two districts was of gigantic proportions. A study of 8,252 children encompassing 4,111 households covered in the survey pertaining to the two districts showed that 639 or 7.7% of the surveyed children had been trafficked.



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