According to the government child protection agency ‘National Council of Child Rights’ (NRCR), on an average at least 6 children go missing every day in Nepal. However, two-thirds of them are eventually found, but one-third is never found.
According to NRCR data, at least 36,612 children were reported missing from July 2006 to July 2022. Out of them, a total of 23,259 children were found later, but about 36 percent i.e. 13,353 children are still missing. 16 of the missing children were found dead or died after being found.
At least 4,646 children were reported missing between July 2021 and July 2022. Among them, the number of girls was 3,431. 4,269 of the missing children have been found, but 377 children are still missing. Among them, 90 are boys and 287 are girls.
The people of this country living in the lap of the Himalayas are growing concerned about the trafficking of minor children for bonded labor or sexual exploitation. In Nepal, a person under the age of 18 is considered a minor. 40 percent of the country’s total population of three crores are minors.
Most affected girls
According to the 2019 report of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), about 35,000 people have been victimized by human traffickers in the country. Among them were 15,000 men, 15,000 women and about 5,000 minors.
Lily Thapa, a member of the NHRC, told that there is a high possibility that the missing children were trafficked for bonded labor or sexual exploitation. Many minor girls are also included in the missing children. He said, “In big cities like Kathmandu, many children have reportedly left their homes to get better education, but it is more likely that they are working as servants in hotels, restaurants or households. However, , Many children may even go to India in search of work, but they never contact their families.”
According to the NHRC, cross-border traffickers mostly target children from poor families and send them to red-light areas of India for sexual exploitation.
Nepal Police spokesperson Tek Prasad Rai said that some of the missing children are likely to be made to work in brick kilns, hotels, restaurants and dance bars.
Rai told DW, “Nepal police are also conducting investigations in India to find missing minors and trafficked women, but we don’t have data on how many of the missing children are victims of human traffickers. made.”
Rai also said that some children are trafficked for the purpose of extracting their organs, but such cases are very rare. He said that in many other countries, especially in Africa and Gulf countries, people are trafficked on the pretext of tourism.
NCRC’s Ram Bahadur Chand told that the cases of victimization of girls have increased rapidly in recent years. Out of the 36,612 children who went missing in the last 16 years, more than 60 percent i.e. 21,946 were girls. Of the 16,785 minors who went missing in the last five years, 71 percent or 11,916 were girls.
“About 70 percent of the missing girls are around 14 years or older,” Chand said.
Government in an effort to curb the growing number of cases
According to Mohana Ansari, a well-known human rights activist of Nepal, the way in which cases of missing children are increasing in the country shows that the government is not showing interest in finding the children. The true number of missing children may be higher, because some cases may not have been reported. On the other hand, police spokesperson Rai does not seem to agree with this.
He says that the number of missing minors in Nepal may be ‘much less’ than the official figures. He told Deutsche Welle, “When a child goes missing, we are informed, but when he is found, the family members do not inform us. Because of this, the statistics of missing children are high. If this is not the case, even after filing a report to find the missing children, requests are made several times.
The spokesperson of the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens, Yamlal Bhusal, said that they do not have any clear answer that Nepal Where are the missing children going or who is behind it?
According to Bhusal, the government is preparing policies and plans to curb the increasing cases of disappearance of children.
He told, “We are reviewing existing policies and formulating new policies. Also, several action plans are being implemented so that there is better coordination between different agencies to trace missing children. can be made.”