Rupa Devi will never forget the cold January afternoon seven years ago when she came home to find her daughter missing. The 13-year-old had not returned home from school and no one had seen her. It was only a week later that she found that her real sister had taken her daughter to Delhi to work as Domestic Maid. ”She told her that she could buy jeans and beautiful ear rings with her own money in Delhi. She lured her with promises of movies and money. My daughter was just 13,” she says.
Rupa Devi is one of the few mothers in Gumla who did not send her daughter to Delhi voluntarily. She has no idea where her daughter is, even after all these years. For parents whose daughters have been trafficked without their knowledge, tracking their children is a near impossible task.Rupa Devi should know. She has been trying to track her daughter for the past seven years without any luck. Her sister, the trafficker, is long dead leaving no clue behind of where her daughter could be.
“Somewhere deep down, however, I know I have lost her. How much would she have changed in these seven years? Even if she comes and stands in front of me, I may not be able to recognize her.”What most parents like Rupa Devi don’t do is go to the police or the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) with their complaints.”People don’t trust the police at all and accuse it of extorting money to file an FIR. People are afraid to talk to the authorities,” said Tribhuvan Sharma, member, CWC, Gumla.
Deepak Kumar, a trafficker arrested by the Haryana Police from Faridabad in May, spoke to the Hindustan Times and explained the how children are trafficked. While he refuses to confess that he was involved in the trafficking of minors, the police found 11 children — six girls and five boys — stuffed in one room in his house, sleeping on the floor.
Trafficking girls from Jharkhand makes good business sense. The parents are pliable and the girls unfussy. It is their simple nature and inability to create trouble that keeps children from this region in such high demand. A trafficker should always be well known to the family from which he is planning to traffic a child. He or she has to be someone who the family knows and can trust; someone from their own village and preferably related to them.
It is not just poverty alone that pushes parents towards sending their children to Delhi or other big cities to work. If that were the case, whole families would migrate. Over and above poverty, there is a simple lack of job in the villages of Jharkhand. Farming has been largely unsuccessful and there is no other work to do.
We go to the villages and tell people how they can earn more money by simply sending their daughters away. The girls are hard working and easily take to the idea of building a life for themselves away from home. When I started, I was a simple trafficker but I realised that it was much more profitable to start a placement agency. Now, the girls who I bring to Delhi undergo a week-long training in housework. Most agencies do not do this and simply place girls at homes.
For all the girls I bring to Delhi, I pay their parents Rs. 2,000 initially. I send half of their wages to the parents while the girls keep the remaining money. I, however, know of many others in the business who keep all the money and don’t give a penny to either the girl or her family. More than 90% of the children trafficked are girls. Orphans, children of single parents and those whose parents have re-married are at the highest risk and least likely to be found as nobody comes looking for them. I had come to Delhi 12 years ago to help a friend recover some money from a factory owner. The placement agency business had just started to boom and I decided to join in.