60,000 kids a year go missing in India
Forced into labour, sex trade, even sold for adoption; 4 in 10 never found
NEW DELHI - Seven years ago on a warm October afternoon, nine-year-old Rizwan went off to play cricket with the neighbourhood boys. He promised his mother he would return before dark.
The little boy never came back, becoming a statistic in a macabre epidemic that sees some 60,000 children go officially missing every year in India.
For years, Rizwan's father, a mason, visited a police station in a New Delhi suburb in the hope of finding his son. Nothing came of it, and he died last year.
"As long as his father was alive, there was someone to follow up on our complaint," said Rizwan's mother Rabia Khatoon, who now survives as a construction worker. "Now, I have given up all hope of finding my son."
- 60,000 children in India go officially missing every year. Activists believe the real number is far greater
- 40 per cent of officially missing children are never found
- Up to 10 times the number of officially missing children are trafficked - forced to beg or work on farms, in factories and in homes, or sold for sex and marriage, activists say.