Every day 31 children went missing in Madhya Pradesh in 2021; 81% girls: CRY analysis

State tops in rescue of kids too; CRY releases booklet on stories of survivors


On the eve of the International Missing Children’s Day (May 25), NGO Child Rights and You (CRY) released a booklet based on post-rescue lives of missing children on Wednesday. The booklet named “Missing Childhoods” includes case stories of survivors from four states of North India, including Madhya Pradesh.

CRY also released a summary of analysis of National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, which shows that Madhya Pradesh reported highest number of missing children – 11607 – among all states in the country, in the year 2021. This means that every day, 31 kids went missing in the state during the year.

What is more concerning is that 81 per cent of the victims in the reported cases of missing children during the year are girls (9407 out of 11607), the CRY analysis says.

The analysis of the NCRB -2021 data further shows a 30.11 per cent rise in cases of missing girls within a year in MP. In 2020, the state reported 7230 cases of missing girls which increased to 9407 in the year 2021.

The phenomenon of missing girls constituting the larger portion of missing children could have been driven by increased demand for domestic helps, commercial sex work, and girls themselves running away due to domestic violence, abuse and neglect, CRY said.

Elaborating the long-term impact of the life of girls who have gone missing, on a girl’s life, Regional Director of CRY, Soha Moitra says, “the girls who run away from home at an early age in search of a better life are not aware of the possible consequences. These girls, who mostly come from low-income and marginalized families, often become easy targets for trafficking and kidnapping. When we looked deep into the cases of the missing girls who were found (included in the booklet); it brought forth the reality of further victimisation in the forms of stigmatisation, ostracisation, disruption of studies, forced marriage, long term psycho-social impacts, unwarranted pregnancy out of marriage, cynicism, negativity, hatred, helplessness, and persistent humiliation meted out to them and their family”.

Booklet compiled to understand impact

About the need to develop a case study booklet on the issue, Moitra said “Though it’s been over a decade CRY is making constant efforts to shed light on rising number of missing children cases in the state through its status report, this year we strongly felt there is a need to develop a comprehensive narrative capturing voices of the survivors and documenting their post-rescue experiences.”

She further said, “The booklet is a first-of-its-kind documentation that underlines the stigma of victimization faced by children. The case studies of 13 individuals in this booklet bring to notice the complex and challenging environment in which children had to live after rescue. In many cases, missing children face stigmatization from society and peers, feel ashamed or embarrassed about their experience, struggle with low self-esteem and lack of self-belief, and feel that they are not good enough or do not deserve happiness or love.”

The booklet gave a platform to young adults like 21-year-old Madhuri (name changed) from Khajuraho town of Madhya Pradesh to express her trauma as she struggles to get over her friend’s betrayal, even after seven years. Madhuri was kidnapped by three traffickers in 2016 when she was 14, with the support of her own close girl friend. She was rescued from Prayagraj district of Uttar Pradesh three months after she went missing.

“Even after seven years I still wonder why she did this to me. She was one of my good friends, and yet she did it just for some money and a mobile phone! I feel sad about the fact that she spoiled my life, but it hurts more to have lost faith in someone who was so close to me and my family…” Madhuri says.

MP records highest number of rescues of kids too; but rehab a major concern

The analysis shows that during the year 2021, total 12,486 missing children were rescued/found by the police, including those missing from previous years. This rescue figure is 25% higher than previous year. Out of these rescued children, 10204 were girls, which is also 81 per cent of all those rescued.

Moitra said, “It’s a big relief to hear that the number of missing children being rescued is constantly increasing in the state. However, while compiling the booklet CRY realised that the trauma of a missing child stays lifelong. Their mental state becomes fragile leading to anxiety, depression and trust issues. Thus, there is an urgent need to extend psycho-social counselling for proper rehabilitation and repatriation of the victims”.

Also the booklet shows that there is a need to work on sensitising police on the issue of missing children and child victims of multiple crimes. A mechanism must be instituted to track regular progress of each of the cases and pass on the information to the family of missing children.

Missing Children in MP

2017: 10110

(Girls – 7409, Boys – 2701)

2018: 10038

Girls – 7564, Boys – 2464

2019: 11022

Girls – 8572, Boys – 2450

2020: 8751

Girls – 7230, Boys – 1521

2021: 11607

Girls – 9407, Boys - 2200

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