Sec-bad Rly Station haven for child traffickers
If a missing or runaway girl is not rescued within two hours after her arrival at Secunderabad Railway Station, she may spend the rest of her life in hell with pimps, human traffickers and sex maniacs.
From 2008 to 2013, some 3,555 boys and girls have been rescued from several railway stations, bus stands and public places across the city. Among them, maximum number of children have been rescued from Secunderabad Railway Station
If a missing or runaway girl is not rescued within two hours after her arrival at Secunderabad Railway Station, she may spend the rest of her life in hell with pimps, human traffickers and sex maniacs. According to child rights activists this is the chilling reality in the city.
Organised gangs involved in flesh trade operate stealthily at railway and bus terminal points. Scores of boys and girls go missing every day. With no proper patrolling, railway stations, bus stands and public places have become a hunting ground for child traffickers.
From 2008 to 2013, some 3,555 children (2,670 boys and 885 girls) have been rescued from several railway stations, bus stands and public places across the city. Among them, maximum number of boys and girls have been rescued from Secunderabad Railway Station and Imlibun Bus Station.
According to statistics provided by NGO Divya Disha, in 2013 alone, 49 girls were rescued from Secunderabad Railway Station, 38 from Nampally Railway Station, 13 from Imlibun Bus Station, 22 from Kacheguda and 4 from Falaknuma. In the same year, 65 boys were rescued from Secunderabad, 48 from Nampally, 21 from Imbibun, 44 from Kacheguda and 9 from Falaknuma.
According to a sex worker Lakshmi (name changed), about 30 child pimps and traffickers roam freely in and around the Secunderabad Railway Station.
“They befriend girls, promise all sorts of things and provide good food. Coming from a poor family, some of the runaway girls trust them and tag along. The pimps also make them inhale whitener to get them intoxicated. After a while, the gangsters show their true colours and slash the girls with blades if they refuse to entertain them,” she said.
The women and child welfare department and Railway Protection Force (RPF) do conduct raids once in a while at these strategic points. But NGOs lament that once the concerned officer gets transferred, things fall back to square one.
“The problem is that there is no system to handle children. Temporary measures would not yield results and offenders get away easily,” said Phillips Issidore of Diyya Disha.
According to sources more than 24 CCTV cameras have been installed at the Secunderabad Railway Station. But NGOs lament that the footage is not monitored to nail traffickers.
“There has been a heavy emphasis on CCTV cameras in public places, bus stands and railway stations. But security personnel only look for terror suspects and the footage is not used to save missing children, stop abuse and kidnappings besides trafficking,” said Phillips.
Last year, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had asked the railway board to take steps for rescuing missing children. Following this, the board issued orders to all station masters to set up a child protection centre in each station. The railway officials, however, are yet to initiate action even after a year.
The only ray of hope now is the Supreme Court’s guidelines on missing children issued in 2013 for all the State governments. The Apex Court sought a compliance report from each State which is yet to be responded to. This year’s Nobel peace prize to Kailash Satyarthi is a wakeup call for governments to initiative urgent steps to save the lives of young children.
Advice to parents: Listen to children
Apart from initiatives by the concerned authorities, Phillips from the NGO Divya Disha pointed out that, “We must learn to listen to what children say rather than talking to them. Today parents talk about marks and nothing else. They don’t talk about their well being, safety, issues, and crimes against children. Our parents and schools don’t prepare children to face the outside world.”
“Parents shouldn't discourage kids to keep quiet when they tell them that someone had touched them in an inappropriate way. If children are gagged, they would have none to tell their woes to,” he added.
“It is a wrong notion that children should be taught martial arts. That wouldn't serve any purpose as the abusers are usually known to the children and karate wouldn’t be of much help,” Phillps concluded.