February 19, 2007
Land of Missing Children

An estimated 30,000 girls are trafficked into the sex industry every year.

Watch the program: Part 1 | Part 2

Trafficking in human beings -- slavery -- is the third biggest criminal industry on the planet. Only the trade in guns and drugs exceed the sale of people on the global scales of illegal enterprise.

According to the International Labour Organization, two million people are taken, or sold, from their homes into a life of forced labour and sexual abuse every year. The overwhelming majority are women and children. More than half of all people enslaved are turned into sex workers who endure lives of incalculable misery before, most often, dying early, diseased, deaths. In India the problem is acute.

An estimated 30,000 girls are trafficked into the sex industry every year. Some are sold by poverty-stricken parents hoping that their children will find employment as domestic servants. Others are simply snatched off the streets, drugged, raped, and sold to brothel “madams.”

Many of these children come from the far east of India -- a region at the crossroads of trade routes with Nepal and Bhutan, which is now a hub of trade in young women. The story of one girl, Pratima, is rare. She was trafficked, rescued, was brought back into the embrace of her family, and is now happily married. Most women who escape the horrors of the business are shunned when they return home, their families refusing to take them in, much less help to heal their wounds.

But Pratima was keen to expose the trade. She told of how she was taken from her home in Siliguri, drugged, and forced onto a train to Calcutta. There she put to work as a prostitute, and then sold on to a brothel in Bombay (Mumbai) known as “Sheila’s.”

We tracked her route into the Red Light district of Calcutta and found the area dominated by a unionized group of madams who insisted that the girls they worked were all over 18, and all volunteers. They were even getting British aid money to run health programs among the working girls. But the sordid reality was manifestly different. Many of the girls were clearly under 18 but none dares say so, and our crew was warned to get out of the area before we were attacked.

We held out little hope of finding Sheila’s until we met up with Balkrishna Achariya, the head of the Rescue Foundation. He ran teams of agents who infiltrated the brothels, found girls who wanted to escape, and then arranged for their rescue, often at great personal risk. And yes, he knew of Shelia’s.

With his help the brothel was identified and sure enough there were under-age girls working there. We took the information to the police where the local commander seemed reluctant to take the matter seriously. “Surely,” he told us. “If there are no prostitutes then ‘decent women’ would be attacked.”

Nonetheless we forced his hand, and arranged to conduct a raid. What we found was medieval. Girls hidden in the rafters, girls in tomb-like underground hideaways. But at the moment of truth, when arrests should have been made, the rescued girls vanished into a crowd of madams gathered on the street. The raid was a farce, a disaster.

But many of the girls were later tracked down and saved from their agonies in what would better be called the “rape trade” by Balkrishna, who sadly perished in a road traffic accident a few months later. And the local police chief who botched the raid soon “retired.”

-- From producer Sam Kiley
Developed countries should help those womens to get out of there.Our prime minister should also take some actions to help them with state government support.
Most of the time, there isn't enough knowledge of such problems to take an interest in dipping into the business of other countries. There is too much at stake, too many arguments against getting involved, etc...
Also, what you mean, specifically by "should help those womens to get out of there," and "take some actions to help them with state government support," is unclear. What do develolped countries do to get those women out, as you say? Do we rescue them in a blaze of fireworks, police raids and helicopter fire? Do we have any business removing them from their home country at all? I believe that be the same as kidnapping them as those who do this now (hopefully minus the rape and prostitution).
As to "take some actions to help with state government support," really, I don't understand what you mean. Throw money at it? Throw money at education programs geared toward government officials to recognize that this is real. Education that basically says that the girls aren't money-grubbing, druggie sluts. They were kidnapped. They were and continue to be raped. And you can and it is your DUTY to save and protect them.
Yeah. If that could be done in a way that wasn't completely hypocritical and patronizing, that's be great.
In regards to the original article/documentary breakdown. I'm glad attention is being brought to this horrifying reality hop that things can change for the better.
Sadly this won't change until the world sees woman in an equaly light to men. In so many countries, women are still seen as chattel, and this is a belief that is then internalised by the women themselves. The sex trade is the symptom, not the source.
It is good that these "untold" stories are finally reaching mainstream media. Pornography has fueled the Far East sex trade for decades. Now that it's in the "news", what is the answer to bring these girls out of these horrific conditions.
This is unfortunate in our generation. The International Community needs to pay sincere attention to these issues. Countries known to protect, or known to be indefferent to these activities within their borders should face UN sactions and should not be given grants by wealthy nations.
What about private enterprises? There are people rich enough to start a not for profit think tank in opposition to the slave trade. Creative, morally flexible, adventurous individuals are needed to combat slavery.
It is sad that there are, at the time of this posting, 6 comments regarding this sad and disgusting story that has been repeated several times in the past two years with no result.
It's sadder that there are 22 comments (which I'll refrain from reading, as the usual respondants are clueless as to the actual state of the world, as are many of the respondants here.)
22 people who are glad to complain or comment about police officers in a war torn country.
6 people who are fairly clueless about the extent of the crimes counted. 12,000 per year. In five years that makes for a nice sized town of 60,000 people. Out of the 60,000, how many are infected with AIDS or other STD's and will recieve minimal or no treatment? How many are killed at the end of their "careers"?
Think tank my bum, try economic sanctions against the nation-states who traffice in humans. Once they're blockaded and exports are refused, the governments will recognize the problem they currently refuse to accept.
Appeasement is only an invitation for YOUR child or grandchild to eventually become "drafted" into such slavery, as such things tend to spread across civilization as a whole in time.
Just study history, instead of ignoring it for once!
they offer mail order kids? :)

yeah, child prostitution is realy untold story. you will discover this story next month again and again.
It is indeed very sad what is happening to (young) women (and boys, for that matter) all around the world. And this problem is not only related to developing countries. It is a global problem, and even happens in "developed" countries as the United States or the European Union.

As for the solution to the problem, I do believe that the international community has a very strong roll to play. However, we must not forget that the primary responsibility lies with the State. Only the secondary responsibility lies with the international community. And yes, UN sanctions will be appropriate in such an instance where the State is unwilling to protect its citizens. After all, we are talking about violantions of human rights. To set up yet another NGO or group of volunteers - of which the world has enough - will not be enough to tackle the problem. There needs to be a change in the thinking of people, including those at policy working level. And we the willingness of the State concerned to support efforts undertaken to bring those involved in abducting an trading these individuals to justice. Precedents need to be set.
Hi, Sam,
I'm a girl who watched the show this week end... it's a superb program.. thanks for showing the reality.. yet.. the Economy is such that the society tends to accept the situation. it's brutal to make child abusing or sex trade with under age children... but first we need to look for the cause! Why???
As someone who had watched the programme-it was deeply disturbing and very sad indeed. Sam Kiley and his team must be congratulated on their efforts-daring at times. I think it is as much about sex industry as it was about missing children. It was horrible indeed-the enslaving and humiliation of those girls and the plight of the parents of those missing children. The fact that minors were raped was even more disgusting. It was claustrophobic to watch those girls stashed into such a small space.It did make me sick. As an Indian who has been living in the UK for past few years, I think I have got a few things to say.
Time and again there were references to the booming economy of India. I think this has nothing to do with that and the references were unnecessary. Unfortunately these things must have been going on for many years, I suppose. The fact that it seemed to be a well established network and the fact that the numbers (of missing children from the region) were huge bear testimony to that fact.It is a Shame on the officials allowing this to continue.
The cause of this in Calcutta is very much related to the poverty of the region- a legacy of British colonisaton and the general mismanagement of those times. Of course one cannot take away the apathy and the insensitivity of the people allowing this to happen under their noses.
The Bombay sex industry is mainly related to the movie industry and has got a lot to do with the shattering of dreams of young girls trying to make it big in the movies.
I think CNN should have taken more precautions in not exposing the identity of the Indian men and women involved in the programme-esp during the raid.It was doubly sad to read about the death of Mr.Balakrishnan Acharya of the 'Rescue Foundation' in a Road traffic accident. He was one of the few working sincerely to bring solace to these unfortunate girls. I don't think it is a coincidence that he died in a road traffic accident a few months later. It is highly likely to be the handiwork of those involved in the racket- A 'hindi movie' style execution by officials wielding power and political clout. The fact that the police chief involved in the raid has 'retired' seems to confirm the same.
The programme makers should show better understanding of the places they are dealing with-I mean India.
It is a place with a huge population - a striking difference between India and any other place in the world(apart from china). It will have its associated problems.
It is a place were religion is a big influence on the customs and practises of the people. They did not seem to have a clue about child marriage- not that I condone it.
The main reason for minors to be involved inthe sex industry is I think the craze or demand for 'young virgins' by potential costomers esp high profile ones, apart from they being easy preys.
The so called bosses or pimps just don't care about sex with minors-as much as they care about the well being of the others.
It is a sad state of affairs indeed. The complete apathy of the officials -police and politicians-to the suffering of these girls and children will ensure that this keeps continuing and thousands more will continue to suffer until the people and media in India wake up from their slumber and do something about it.
CNN accusing 'Durbar' - sexworkers collective in Calcutta of supporting child trafficking is ABSURD. CNN painting horrible picture about one of the major human rights organisation ind India is SAD. STOP SPREADING LIES LIKE THIS. SEXWORK and TRAFFICKING are different issues and DON'T BLUR THE LINES BETWEEN THEM. This is report is ANTI-SEXWORKER. CNN will loose its CREDIBILITY if it spreads lies about committed human rights organisations.
Sam, I salute your bravery. I sat dumb struck for a long time after watching your programme. I felt deeply ashamed as I watched from my "civilised" vantage point. I then read some of the "pass the buck" comments of: someone else should fix this. I guess it made these people uncomfortable; it certainly did that to me. As long as there are people with privlege, a belief that all people are not equal and ruthless people to exploit this, these poor children will suffer and die. This programme makes a difference. I sit here very uncomfortable as my shallow contribution, up to now, seems to be " well, it's not in my neighborhood and I urge the Government to act on my behalf." It's the wealthy civilisation that we all live in that supports this abuse. While most of us would never avail of these sordid services our lack of action implicates us. Please don't blame others, or look to others with your "feel-good" comments. Sam could have covered a story of why Sophie lost 20 pounds in 2 weeks and got as much coverage but he took major risks for the good of these children. We should support Sam by condemning this child abuse every chance we get and we may sit slightly more comfortable ahead of our expensive computers. I challenge you to honestly say you don't know anybody that would take advantage of a youngster (boy or girl) if a safe situation was presented, like Calcutta. we all can make a difference; please openly let your abhorrence be known and start NOW!





I'm also glad, someone at last got the world to pay attention to this terrible situation. Without this attention, they would never have any chance to be saved, but now, they may have.
I think that the main problem is with the people that seek these types of prostitutes in the first place. Yes, it even happens here in the US, especially near the border of Mexico, right outside of major cities. I've been to Singapore, Malasia, etc. And I've noticed that most of the young girls and boys have been taken out of Cambodia or Vietnam. What can we do as individuals to make a difference? I'm in the military, and I see a lot of my own fellow military including French and British seek these younger girls. In Thailand though, its the worst. hundreds of brothels line the streets in Bangkok, and there are no laws, international or otherwise to do anything about this growing problem. Unfortunately, its a problem that's been going on for thousands of years.
I just watched a re-run of this and was absolutely horrified that this is worsening in India. I think Sam did a great story, however would like to see a follow up and also if there is anyway people living outside India can help in anyway. I feel so restless that I cannot do anything to help the situation.
hi, sam thank you for your courage to exposed this things.... I believe that what is hidden in the dark will soon be exposed. Personally, it really makes me sad knowing that there are things like this that are happening in our world, i may not be from India but my prayer is with them. God will turn around this things... Women from God's eyes is so precious but sadly they are being treated in other nation as no worth... MY MESSAGE TO THE PEOPLE BEHIND THIS THINGS IS: WHAT IF ITS YOUR DAUGHTER WHO WILL BE FORCED TO DO THOSE THINGS - TO BE A SEX SLAVE, WILL YOU ACCEPT IT, WILL YOU ALLOW IT AS A FATHER?! JUST THINK! and for those parents who are forced to give their daughter out of poverty, dignity and love is more important than MONEY. i think love motivates us to sacrifice but when it comes to the things that it can harm, especially if its your son/daughter it is not right. I KNOW INDIA IS A MUSLIM COUNTRY, but IF YOU BELIEVE THAT GOD CREATED US, HE KNOWS EVERY NEEDS THAT WE HAVE, FOOD, CLOTHING, SHELTER. JUST HAVE FAITH. My prayers are always with you. Sam, thank you i know God is using you to be HIS instrument. God will bless you and protect you and your family.
I would be willing to bet that most of the people that read this blog have never been hungry, I mean the kind of hunger that drives you to desperation. Not the kind of hunger you get when you haven't eaten all day but the kind you get when you are constantly denined the amount of calories you need just to get by. A lot of third world countries suffer from this kind of hunger and many famlies barely get by so when you have extra mouths to feed it makes that much harder. Common sense would say don't have as many kids so you don't have as many to feed. That doesn't work as they need as much help as they can get so that all can survive and then there's the mortality rate. So when a stanger comes into the village and he says he has a job for some of the young girls as housekeepers, many families are desperate enough to believe that maybe there are such jobs. the girls almost always end up in a brothel or worse. I think the only real way to end these problems is to somehow invest in these countries so there real jobs that these people can have with a fair wage ,not the sweatshop wages that overseas corperations pay their employees right now. Economic sactions against the offending country most always hurts the ones you are trying to help. But a boycott of corperations that don't pay a fair wage to their employees starts to get attention
How come MTV india never puts these issues out.
I cannot believe this. Situations where a senior officer REFUSES TO ACKNOWLEDGE ATROCITIES is almost unheard of. It makes you think of what our world is becoming.
Wow! I cannot believe what I just read. It goes to show you that we never really know everything that's going on around the world. But now that people know does that mean they'll start doing something to fight it? Probably not. And that's the harsh reality. People go on living their lives ignoring the problems growing around them. We watch the stories on the world news and gasp, but that's it. That's all we think we can do. Humans are selfish people. Do I consider myself selfish? To a point. I read this article, but does that mean I'll go to Calcutta and free the sex slaves? Honestly, at this moment, no. It's something I hate admitting to,but here I am, only a student in college and very little money to truly make a difference, so what can I do? What if I had money? Well, than things would be different. I would catch the first flight to India and begin making a difference. Am I lying to make you think I actually give a damn? NO! So, tell me, why can't all those millionaires out their get off their rich butts and do something to make this world just a little better and a little more peaceful? Because instead of saving a few lives they'd rather go out and buy another Ferrari. Selfish bastards! But to those few of you that truly care, thank you! You are the people I hope to become like. And to those of you people who read this story and are not affected, please go see a psychologist!
World’s Untold Stories showcases courageous correspondents telling intimate stories of society's most vulnerable people. Often gritty, always powerful tales that open our eyes to a world that is at times disturbing and captivating. Storytelling that is raw and unyielding in its impact. World’s Untold Stories will bring the viewer tales from all corners of the world, and shine light on activities almost never exposed.

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