Child survivors of last year’s earthquake in Nepal are being sold to British families to work as domestic slaves, according to an investigation by The Sun newspaper.
The Sun revealed that these boys and girls are as young as 10, and are being sold for £5,250 ($7,467); black market gangs are allegedly operating the trade in India’s state of Punjab, near the Nepalese border.
Home secretary Theresa May responded to the claims and asked the National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate the newspaper’s exposé.
“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,” May said in a statement.
The paper reported that the gangs are preying on the children of Nepalese refugees, as well as kids from poor Indian families.
“No child, anywhere in the world, should be taken away from their home and forced to work in slavery,” May 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.”
The Sun indicated that Makkhan Singh, a slave driver, lined up children for its undercover reporter who was posing as a rich Sikh living in the U.K.
Singh said to him: “We have supplied lads who have gone on to the U.K. Most of the ones who are taken to England are Nepalese.
“For the supply of a boy, minimum 500,000 rupees ($7,507). Then you will have other costs associated with taking him to the U.K., but that’s your responsibility extra to what you pay us.
“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.”
Singh said India is “flooded with boys,” adding, “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.”
Last year on April 25, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed almost 9,000 people in Nepal, leaving them in desperate need of aid and safety.
According to NCA figures, there were 10,000–13,000 victims of modern slavery in the U.K. in 2013, but only 1,746 potential victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
Last year, the numbers almost doubled: 3,266 children in the U.K. were identified as potential trafficking victims.