Home secretary Theresa May called on the paper to ‘share its disturbing findings… so that appropriate action can be taken’. Photograph: Mark Thomas/Rex Shutterstock
The home secretary Theresa May has urged police to investigate claims that child survivors of the Nepal earthquake and other vulnerable children are being sold to British families to work as domestic slaves.
An investigation by the Sun newspaper suggests that boys and girls as young as 10 are being sold for just £5,300 by black market gangs operating in India’s Punjab province.
The paper says the gangs are preying on the children of Nepalese refugees, as well as destitute Indian families.
May called child trafficking a “truly abhorrent crime” and urged the National Crime Agency to investigate the newspaper’s findings. She said the paper should “share its disturbing findings” with the agency, “so that appropriate action can be taken against the vile criminals who profit from this trade”.
She added: “No child, anywhere in the world, should be taken away from their home and forced to work in slavery.
“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.”
According to the Sun’s report, which appears on the front of Monday’s print edition, the desperate children are being sold to wealthy British families to be used as unpaid domestic servants.
It reports that a trader it names as Makkhan Singh lined up children for its undercover reporter to pick from and said: “We have supplied lads who have gone on to the UK.
“Most of the ones who are taken to England are Nepalese.
“For the supply of a boy, minimum 500,000 rupees [£5,300]. Then you will have other costs associated with taking him to the UK, 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.”
A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April last year, killing almost 9,000 people and leaving millions in need of aid.
It is estimated that millions of people across the world are victims of modern day slavery, trafficked across borders and forced to work in servitude. In October 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was brought in to crack down on modern day slavery and protect victims of trafficking.
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