The problem of child abduction has been a phenomenal one for centuries. Though historical records do not attest to child-lifting being prevalent in the Middle Ages and later, one can safely infer — by the nature of the crime and corroborative tales — that spiriting away children was in vogue even in the centuries gone by. In this century and the last, child abduction seems to have become a major issue. With the proliferation of digital media and the social network boom, information dissemination about such cases has led to more awareness.
Many cases of abduction, especially in the West, have got screaming headlines and a vigilant press has often made life hard for police and prosecutors, in a way helping the parents who wouldn’t otherwise know who to go to.
Madeleine McCann’s has been one such case. The three-year-old girl disappeared on May 3, 2007 from a resort in Portugal where she was holidaying with her parents. As Gerry and Kate McCann had breakfast at a restaurant yards away from their room in which Madeleine slept, someone purportedly kidnapped her.
The British girl was plastered all over the press for more than an year. Her disappearance spawned speculation and a trove of theories. Her parents, both doctors, ‘went to the continent’ with her story. They talked extensively to the press, courted child rights and civil society groups, and rode a storm of publicity. At a point, it became so overbearing that the McCanns were accused by the police of playing a dirty game— having their own child kidnapped. Six years hence, Maddie remains untraced.
The police recently opened the case and hinted at new leads. A tractor driver who had been sacked by the resort in which the McCanns were staying is now under probe. It is being speculated that he may have tried to get even with the resort authorities and made the girl a pawn in the revenge game.
After a fee cases being cracked in Europe and America, many parents of lost children have become optimistic. The discovery of a Bulgarian girl being brought up by a Roma family in Greece has sparked a new wave of optimism. The girl, initially suspected to be kidnapped, was found to belong to a Bulgarian couple, which had handed them over to the Roma family because of poverty.
The kidnapping of a child is equally traumatic for parents and the victim. Numerous instances of child abductions remain unsolved with parents having lost hope in many cases. Western nations are relatively sparsely populated and their security services are scientifically trained to deal with crime. It would be in the fitness of things if the European Union floats an anti-child kidnap force and integrates it with the technological and systemic wherewithal it has for dealing with such crime•