Child exploitation: The tragic story of a girl sold by her parents
On the bustling streets of India, a heartbreaking incident exposes the harsh realities of child trafficking and exploitation. A little boy of just four years became the face of this serious issue plaguing the subcontinent. The key question we grapple with is this: How did this happen, and what led to her being used for begging?
A life born in difficulty
The girl was born in Supe in Baramati taluka and is the youngest of eight daughters of a nomadic family of Mazgaon, located in Karjat taluka of Ahmednagar district. Their livelihood came from small tasks and jobs. Burdened by socio-economic constraints, this family represents thousands of people living on the margins of society, struggling with the difficulties of daily life.
Horrible Deal: Selling a Child
As the investigation progressed, it was revealed that her parents had sold her for a mere Rs 2,000, under dire circumstances and with the approval of the village's Jat (caste) panchayat. This tragic sale reflects the grim reality of socio-economic conditions and the impact of local community decisions.
Trapped in the web of exploitation
After being sold, the girl found herself under the protection of a couple living in Ramwadi, Lohegaon. Belonging to a community known for self-flagellation as a means of begging, the couple pushed her into the world of begging. As she grew up, they forced her to beg at traffic junctions in Vimannagar and Kalyaninagar, subjecting her to physical abuse and hardships.
Legal implications and fight for justice
The law intervened, and charges were filed against her parents, the couple and several other persons at the Yerwada police station under the Indian Penal Code, Juvenile Justice Act and the Prevention of Beggary Act.
Rescue the couple? He claimed adoption. But as Hadapsar's lawyer Shubham Lokhande pointed out, even if such a claim was true, it in no way gives them the right to abuse and exploit the child. The claim of adoption based on an agreement made on a Rs 500 stamp paper lacked any legal validity.
Finding out the truth
Shubham Lokhande, representing the same community as the girl's family, took it upon himself to bring out the truth. Informed about the Jat Panchayat's controversial decision to sell the girl, Lokhande sets out in search of the truth. He visited various places related to the case, collected video evidence and recorded statements of key witnesses.
With enough evidence, Lokhande approached Pune's Joint Commissioner of Police, Sandeep Karnik. The evidence was examined, found credible and the girl was rescued by the Social Security Cell.
Steps towards rehabilitation
After her rescue, the girl was medically examined as per the instructions of the District Child Welfare Committee. She was placed in an observation home for children, a shelter where she could start on the path to recovery. Furthermore, plans are underway to ensure that her siblings also receive better living conditions and educational opportunities.
This young girl's story is a reminder of the ongoing issues of child trafficking and exploitation and the urgent need for systemic reforms. As society grapples with these challenges, it is important to remember that collective action, awareness and strong legal measures can pave the way for a brighter future for our children.