International Missing Children’s Day is observed every year on May 25th. It is observed on the same day as the National Missing Children’s Day in the United States of America. Designated in 1983 by the then President Ronald Reagan,
it is observed in the memory of all the children that have been missing or abducted and celebrates those who have been recovered and reunited with their families.
The National Missing Children’s Day was a joint venture of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), the US’s National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the Global Missing Children’s Network (GMCN). This venture resulted in a network of countries across the world that collect, share and help improve the effectiveness of the investigations for missing children cases. The members of the GMCN from 23 member countries pay their respects on May 25th to missing children and celebrate those who have been recovered and returned to safety. In the year 2001, this annual tribute gained worldwide recognition and has since then, helped spread awareness on this problem.
India in particular, is a country which has been a source, destination as well as a transit country for the illegal activity of child trafficking. According to data collected by the Home Ministry, over 3.25 lakh children have gone missing between the years 2011 and 2014. This indicates that approximately 1 lakh children go missing every year and 45% of them remain untraced (The Times of India). Over the years, the numbers seem to be rising. The total number of untraced children in 2015 was 62,988 compared to 34,244 untraced children in 2013, which means there has been a 84% rise in missing children in India in just three years (Data from the Home Ministry).
The enormity of the situation lies in the fact that it is mostly the children of extremely poor and marginalised communities in backward regions of the country that are trafficked or kidnapped.
The parents of these children often delay reporting a case as they might not be aware of how to report a case or who to approach for help.
Worryingly, statistics reveal that there are more missing girls than boys. The safety of girls in India is still in a precarious state. According to a recent census by the Home Ministry, the number of girls missing in some states of India is double that of boys. For example, the number of missing girls in the state of Andhra Pradesh stands at a shocking 11,625 as against 6,915 missing boys (The Times of India). These girls are often forced into prostitution & begging rackets and are destined for a life of child abuse and exploitation.
If the issue is not addressed soon, many more children are under risk of losing their childhood and their futures to notorious child labour, prostitution and begging rackets that operate across the country. Many of these cities do not even have a missing persons bureau and designated special teams working to recover missing children. The apathy shown towards this serious issue is reflected in the increasing numbers of abductions, kidnappings and child trafficking in the country.
CRY works to spread awareness about the issue among children, guardians, schools and works to strengthen the system for ensuring a safety net for vulnerable children. CRY also provides need based support in the area of rescue in alliance with the Police, the C.I.D or Child Line.
With your help and support, we can help ensure that children across India are ensured their right to protection. Spread the word and help us recover missing children and prevent more such cases in the future. Your support could help us ensure a secure and happy environment of thousands of underprivileged children across India.