2317 more children reported missing in 2012 alone, warning for police and parents
The outgoing year 2012 recorded as many as 2317 children reportedly missing from the jurisdiction of 106 police stations in 20 towns of Karachi, says data collected by the Roshni Helpline, a civil society group working to uphold the rights of women and children.
On an average, two children each police station reported missing every month over last 10 months. Both boys and girls were included in the tally. “If a child (under 18) goes out of contact of family or guardians, he or she is considered as missing child,” Mr Muhammad Ali, head of Roshni said while releasing the yearly report on missing children.
Roshni Helpline handled 476 cases of missing children during the outgoing year. It is noticeable that only 61 out of 476 cases were registered in Police stations as Non-Cognizable offences with lodging of formal FIRs, very weak ground for such important cases as if police think that recovery of these children is not their responsibility. The actual number of missing children is much higher than the reported ones with the police stations and quoted in the report, said Mr Ali.
Roshni HL also collected data from 16 mosques in each town. The mosques made announcements regarding 2 to 3 children reportedly missing from the area connected to each mosque per month. These mosques announced thousands of children as missing from their vicinities.
The data says out of the total missing children, 68.12% were boys and 32.88% were girls. Majority of the children missing were between the ages of 2 to 8 years. The recovery ratio of missing children was only 16% during last year. The recovery ratio has been increased due to the awareness campaign and sensitization of the people on the issue of missing children by Roshni
Roshni helps families in lodging FIR of their missed/kidnapped children. In many cases families/parents reported the cases of missing children to Helpline. Roshni helpline then guided the families and helped to lodge their cases in the police stations. It is also observed that in most of the cases, police treats missing/kidnapping case as non-cognizable offense, which results in no action rather causes more difficulties for the families of missing/kidnapped children.
A majority of the cases reported to police are lodged in Roznamcha – the daily diary referred as Kachi FIR. No Investigation Officer is appointed and no action is taken unless and until FIR of case is registered under cognizable offence, referred as Pakki FIR. The police log the case in the daily diary and send off the parents advising them to keep searching their children as if it is not the duty of police.
The families of missing children instead of instance reporting to the police try at their level to search the children in their own localities, relatives and friends and thus cause critical delay in recovery time. Police adds to this loss of recovery time by not acting timely even if cases are reported to them, as they do not consider such cases worth action.
“One of the reasons behind less recovery or delayed recovery is that parents and families do not follow the path that is reporting of the cases timely to police,” said M. Ali. It is necessary to lodge F.I.R of missed/kidnapped child. Families waste time in going to fake religious saints (peers) for ‘AAMIL’(a sort of recovery measure). These practices further consume much of the recovery time and goes to the benefit of the kidnappers and not to the victim. In many cases a considerable amount of time is lost, and there is fear that the child if he/she had been kidnapped might have been trafficked from the area of residence. Then there is a less chance and hope of tracing him/her immediately, said Mr Ali.
Roshni Helpine has made a presentation to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights and urged them to improve the reporting mechanism of the missing children at the police stations. The Committee has ordered the police chiefs in provinces to take cognizance of this important issue. Roshni has also filed a petition in the Sindh High Court to get the police reporting of the missing children improved so that timely and prompt action is taken once a child is reported missing.
High Alert Areas
The magnitude of problems that the cities like Karachi face makes the whole city a high alert area for children. However, there are areas where more cases of missing of children are reported than other areas. According to the data collected, Gulshan-e-Iqbal, Liaquatabad, City and Jamshaid Towns were high alert areas for children in 2012. It is RH’s assessment and observation that Area of Mahmoodabad, South District and area of Mobina Town, East district were high alert areas. Children were raped and murdered from these areas. Majority of the children which were kidnapped from these areas were belonged from the age group of 4-12 years.