Vulnerable children, including survivors of last year’s earthquake in Nepal, are being sold to British families as domestic slaves, according to an investigation.
An investigation by the Sun newspaper claims that boys and girls as young as 10 are being sold for £5,250 ($7,468) in India’s Punjab province, close to the Nepalese border.
Black market gangs are preying on the children of Nepalese refugees and destitute Indian families, according to the newspaper.
Last April, a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed almost 9,000 people, and sent thousands of Nepalese families across the border to India seeking safety.
The Sun reports that black market gangs are targeting Nepalese refugee children as well as kids from poor Indian families by approaching their relatives to “do a deal.”
According to the paper, a slave driver, named as Makkan Singh, lined up kids for the paper’s undercover reporter, who was posing as a rich Sikh living in the UK, to choose from.
“We have supplied lads who have gone on to the UK,” Singh said.
“Most of the ones who are taken to England are Nepalese.”
Singh explained that most families keep the children locked up in India for several years while arranging travel documents.
“Take a Nepalese to England. They are good people. They are good at doing all the housework and they’re very good cooks. No-one is going to come after you,” he said.
“India is flooded with boys. Nepal has been destroyed and all the Nepalese are here.
“You do the deal, pay me the money and you’re away free. You buy the kids and off you go.”
The damning revelations prompted a swift response from UK Home Secretary Theresa May, who called on the National Crime Agency (NCA) to launch an investigation into the Sun’s claims.
“No child, anywhere in the world, should be taken away from their home and forced to work in slavery,” she said.
“That is why we introduced the landmark Modern Slavery Act last year, which included enhanced protections for potential child victims of slavery and sentences up to life imprisonment for those found guilty.
“We encourage the Sun to share its disturbing findings with the Police and National Crime Agency so that appropriate action can be taken against the vile criminals who profit from this trade.”