As countries like India and China rise in their global status and economic power, I wonder if the increased visibility will force them to clean up their act and see that their children are protected.
This headline last week was a harsh reminder of what goes on...
"The father of Slumdog Millionaire star Rubina Ali, 9, is accused of trying to sell his daughter for $300,000 to a sheik."
Although I read this in a Hollywood gossip magazine -- and many might question the accuracy of the reporting -- I did appreciate that a pop magazine brought attention to the fact that the selling of daughters is not an uncommon practice in India.
Girls are trafficked in India for sexual exploitation, domestic labor, drug peddling, begging, adoption and marriage. Some say the price of the girl depends on the color of her eyes and her skin, and a virgin girl goes for a lot higher price. It can seem like a world away, but for some, it is quite close.
Last weekend in the New York Times Magazine column The Ethicist a reader submitted a query about whether he should give money, food or neither to the beggar children in India on his upcoming trip. The reader was concerned that exploitative adults might take the money.
If you saw the film Slumdog Millionaire then you probably remember the child trafficker who tricked the children into thinking they were going to get a promotion. When they arrived for their good news, the surprise turned out to be a cupful of acid poured into the child's eyes to purposefully blind him or her to make their begging more poignant and profitable.
Records show that maiming a child is just another scam put on by these child overlords to get more money into their pockets.
I have seen these children. They have come up to me with their white milky eyes on the streets of Delhi and have knocked their stumps on my taxi window as I sat devastated staring back at them. It is all quite tragic to think about.
So why am I writing and telling about all of these horrifying things?
I write about this because I feel that the more it is reported and the more we talk about it, the more accountable the countries responsible for it become.
I am by no means saying that our own country, the US, is a grand model for human rights. I'm not wagging my finger. But in my opinion there is a level of global inhumanity that has been going on for far too long and perhaps we have reached a tipping point.
Admittedly, I may just be naïve to think that talking about issues can solve them. But in my heart of hearts I do believe this. With transparency, comes accountability, comes responsibility, comes change.