Prayer Effort Launches for Missing Children in South Asia

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The children of South Asia are among the most vulnerable in the
world. The United Nations estimates that 1 million Asian children are
traded every single day. In India alone, 45,000 children are reported
missing each year. Thousands more are missing, but their families have
not reported their absence to authorities.1

The majority of these missing children come from Dalit
(“Untouchable”) families, from tribal areas or from families that live
in extreme poverty.2

Children in South Asia go missing for many reasons. Some are abducted
by strangers and put into forced labor. Others are trafficked or
exploited in the sex trade or sold to other families to work as domestic
help. Some missing children have simply run away from home or were
forced to leave home because of difficult circumstances, such as the
death of a parent or the introduction of a stepparent into the

India has the largest population of poor and vulnerable children of
any country in the world. Nearly 44 million children live on the street
as beggars. Millions are orphans. Others may be the children of migrant
workers, commercial sex workers or prisoners. Thousands are also child
soldiers who have been forced into armed conflict.4 Thousands of children were recruited to join rebel forces in Sri Lanka during the civil war with Tamil militants.5

Sadly, there are many waiting to exploit these vulnerable children.
One of the most common ways children are misused is by being forced into
the adult workforce.

Child Labor Snapshot
India has some 13 million children younger than 15 in its workforce—more
than any other country in the world. Some estimate that the real number
of child laborers is close to 100 million.6 That’s about five times the population of the state of New York.

In neighboring Thailand, almost 1 out of every 10 children between ages 10 and 14 is working rather than going to school.7
In Bangladesh, an estimated 27 percent of children ages 10-14 are
working. These children are employed in a variety of hazardous
occupations, such as making cigarettes by hand, construction, tanneries,
fishing and seafood processing, and the garment industry.8

The majority of working children in South Asia were born in rural
areas and most often labor in agriculture and related fields. They also
manufacture shoes, carpets, clothing and silk thread for the Western
world. Children work in the diamond and gemstone industries as well.

In India, 17 percent of domestic workers, the country’s maids and
nannies, are younger than 15. At least 65 percent of them entered the
workforce between their ninth and twelfth birthdays.9
According to UNICEF, there are an estimated 150,000 child domestic
workers. In Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo, about one of every three
households has a child younger than 14 working in their home.10
One of the most physically punishing forms of child labor occurs in
Sri Lanka’s commercial fishing industry. The children working on the
boats are kept in slave-like conditions, and the nature of the work
keeps them far away from the public eye.11

Another danger to children—especially those from extremely poor
families—is child trafficking. UNICEF estimates that 4,500 children from
Bangladesh are trafficked to Pakistan each year. Thousands more are
sent to India and to countries in the Middle East. Most often, the
children are sold into bonded labor or to brothel owners.

How to Pray for Them
Even though these children’s parents may not know where they are, their
Heavenly Father knows them and cares for them. The following list
describes some of their prayer needs:

  • Pray for the children to be rescued, reunited and accepted back into their families.
  • Pray for GFA-supported missionaries and workers who reach out
    specifically to the runaway children, especially those who try to rescue
    the thousands of street children in Delhi.
  • Pray for the physical needs of the children. Most do not get enough
    to eat, and the physical labor they are forced to do can cripple their
    young bodies. Pray for the Lord to provide for them and protect them
    from harm.
  • Pray for the girls—and boys—forced to work in the sex trade. Ask the
    Lord to bring the brothel owners’ and customers’ misdeeds into the
    spotlight and for the love of Jesus to permeate those dark places.
  • Pray for a radical attitude shift in South Asian society so that
    citizens of these countries will demand an end to the exploitation of

1 National Human Rights Commission,

2 Bachpan Bachae Andlolan,

3 ChildLine India,

4 ChildLine India,

5 Amnesty International

6 ChildLine India,

7 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report.

8 U.S. Department of Labor report

9 ChildLine India,

9 International Child Labor Hearing, U.S. Department of Labor
(April 12, 1994) (Statement of South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude
(SACCS), India Chapter) [on file] [hereinafter 1994 Testimony of

9 United States Department of Labor, Bureau of International Affairs,

10 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report

11 U.S. Department of Labor, International Labor Affairs report

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