Thursday, December 8, 2022

Society’s dark underbelly

A supposedly noted environmentalist-cum- landscaper, animal lover and child missionary, had the cover blown after a tip-off led police to conduct a raid at her residence in Dimapur where the discovery of three physically abused minors further revealed how they underwent horrifying treatment. The minors were brought from Mon at different intervals since 2021 after parents were conned into believing that the angel of mercy will provide free education and hostel facilities to their children. In fact, according to sources, when the children were not given proper and sufficient food and made to starve, they had to resort to stealing from neighbours. As punishment, it was alleged that the female child missionary, made the children eat uncooked rice mixed with sand. These were in addition to regular physical abuse and torture that only pointed to her mental state of being a psychopath. The children were not allowed to talk to their parents and even if they were occasionally, they were forced to inform their parents that they were fine and had appeared and pass examinations. That the children were rescued but their physical and mental scars will forever remain. The law should take its own course and if found guilty under IPC, the female should be meted out the severest of punishment. This is not the only case as there have been several other similar shocking stories reported by the media. How minors especially from the far flung districts have been the victims leads to the inescapable fact the main factors that have made traffickers find easy prey is owing to extreme poverty among the majority of people living below the poverty line. This also raises the question of why such areas continue to be deprived of social economy and education when government spends huge amount for the backward areas? The primary objective of child trafficking is to use them as labour because child labour is cheap and in some cases actually another form of bonded labour. Recent incidents especially reported in Dimapur, indicate that there are children who are kept as labour in many houses. That itself may be an offence but there are instances where the children are beaten up very badly and inhumanly too for disobedience. Of course, there are also many homes where the children are kept well and even sent to school but still, laws governing child labour needs to be known. This is true with regard to laws relating to rights of the child where the concern has been on child trafficking. As per the constitutional laws governing child labour, no one below the age of 14 is to be made to work under hazardous conditions of which could also include workshops and factories etc. With changing lifestyles, there has been a sharp increase in the demand for domestic hands in many homes. Traffickers find eager customers who are willing to advance the required sum in order to book and get a domestic hand. It is not uncommon to find minors as young as ten years of age, being employed in several manufacturing units, construction sites and homes. Such cases only serve to highlight the need for framing laws for NGOs involved with child welfare. Children are the heritage and the future of society and any discrimination and acts of inhuman physical abuse is also a crime against humanity.

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