Hoping the new government can halt the abduction of India’s girls.

Did you know that 40,000 (yes, forty thousand!) of our girls are abducted too, every year?!!

I was horrified to read about the abduction of hundreds of young Nigerian girls that was orchestrated by the heinous Boko Haram terrorists. In trying to follow the developments in the search for the girls and their captors, and I read an article that shocked me with the enormity of such crimes against our gender right here in our own country!

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Apparently, in just the last nine years, over 3 lakh women and 64,000 girls have been abducted in India! Figures from the National Crime Records Bureau show that from 2005 to 2012, the number of women being abducted increased by 11.73% every year, while the number of girl child kidnappings soared 23.2% each year. And minor girls account for almost 85% of all kidnappings in the country, says the crime bureau.

Which states account for most of these numbers? Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Punjab Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana.And the most common reason for kidnapping or abducting women?Well, the records list it as “marriage”. If you ask any social activist they’ll laugh. Because in most abduction cases, “marriage” is just a façade for sex trafficking.

In other cases, specially of slightly younger girls, the bait that is dangled in front of impoverished parents by ‘agents’ is the promise of ‘work’. Desperately poor families are hoping against hope when they hesitatingly let their young go away to the big city, keeping their fingers crossed that maybe, just maybe, they will find a good job and even send money home soon.

What makes a parent agree to let their kids get into such an obviously risky  situation? Desperate poverty? Extreme lack of development, and any hope of it?The real threat of malnourishment, or even starvation?

I would think yes, for all three. That would explain allowing them to go with agents. The parents must be thinking that at least no one starves in the city.

Which brings me to why I’m hopeful that the new government may herald the onset of some hope in this situation. Mr. Modi’s entire campaign has hinged on development. There has been a focus on the poor and the Gujarat model has been much talked about.

If, at the national level, the NDA government can bring about at least some of the progress and efficiency that people say they have achieved in Gujarat, it would make a huge difference.

The first step is always the birth of hope. With the sweeping majority in parliament for one party and a stable government about to be sworn in, India is more hopeful than it has ever been in the past decade.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this hope will not be a mirage yet again for the girls of our poorest families.

 

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