India (MNN) — India's Supreme Court recently ordered the nation's federal and state governments to provide information on 55,000 missing children. The order comes after India's Supreme Court heard a petition claiming the government has "failed to trace" missing children. The petition further blames states for inadequate efforts to crack down on gang involvement in the kidnapping and trafficking of kids.
Kaytie Fiedler with India Partners says their on-the-ground ministries have encountered human trafficking first-hand.
"They're working in remote villages and seeing that children are actually being kidnapped from their own homes," says Fiedler. She says there are organized groups "who are paid to go into remote areas and find children that then get used in the black market, for organ transplant in particular."
The black market for human organs is a booming business in India. Driven by "medical tourism" — the practice of coming to India for major surgeries at a lower price, demand is high for children's eyes, hearts, and kidneys. Demand is also high for child labor, with kids forced into slavery at homes or factories. Another sickening avenue for human trafficking is the sex trade, with over 250,000 commercial sex workers in Mumbai alone. Over a third of that number are kids under the age of 12.
India Partners works with grassroots ministries to provide refuge for vulnerable children. These safe havens not only provide adequate meals and a secure place to rest, but an education and the Gospel as well. By learning about Jesus and making better choices, thousands of children are saved from predators lurking in the streets.
"They have places where kids can come in and live full-time, get an education, and be safe from those dangers."
One report gives an August 31 deadline for an account from the state of Gujarat. Fiedler says providing exact numbers is challenging, since agencies are often understaffed and lacking resources.
"There are a number of good people that are doing good work in India, working hard to solve cases and find these children," shares Fiedler. "But unfortunately, with so many kids going missing every year, it's very difficult to stay on top of the problem."
Though progress on providing a report at the national level will probably be slow, Fiedler says it's a step forward for India.
"They're getting out the information; they're saying that they want to do something about it," she says. "Even having a deadline like this is a great, great ray of hope for India wanting to take charge of what's happening in their country."
What can you do to help?
"Our first line of defense is always prayer," says Fiedler. Pray "that we would align ourselves with God's plan for children, His best plan, and as much as we can as the Body of Christ, come alongside those people that are doing hands-on work to keep kids safe."
You could also help financially. With a gift of $4, you can provide a safe night's rest for a vulnerable child in India. At India Partner's Web site, you'll find even more opportunities such as sponsoring a child or joining a short-term missions team. Support the ministries of India Partner financially by clicking here.