Tip of the iceberg

Several incidents of kidnapping of young children, and sometimes even their gruesome murder, have hogged the headlines in the recent past. Abductions of minors by drug addicts, gangsters, and others who use children for various nefarious purposes have become fairly common. Holding children to ransom is an evil practice on the rise. Besides this, mafias operating across the border and the seas are found to have kidnapped or otherwise appropriated children for myriad of wicked reasons — turning victims into sex workers, camel jockeys, beggars, cheap domestics, circus performers, and organ donors. Monday’s rescue of 21 kids from an embroidery factory in Kathmandu by the joint efforts of an NGO and the police could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Last December, 50 children were reported to have gone missing in the capital and only 25 of them were found, according to the newly-established National Centre for Children at Risk, which coordinates its activities with the police in all the 75 districts. But, in order to effectively deter anti-social elements from abusing children, full cooperation of all concerned — Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Central Child Welfare Board, NGOs, media, guardians and general public — is necessary. This area of human rights demands much more vigilance and close attention than it has received so far. Mere occasional outbursts of activity by NGOs or the police department are hardly enough. The scale and frequency of abuse, including the cases of disappearance, are plainly appalling.