Childhood lost in labour

Friday, June 11, 2010

clip_image001He aspires to be a ‘big man’ some day but his idea of a ‘big man’ is restricted to the contractor who kicks and abuses him every morning. This story is indifferent for more than 12 million children working in eateries down your street, working in sweatshops across every town and city in India or even as domestic servants in many houses.

Though there has been increasing awareness on child labour, a lot needs to be done. To highlight the plight of these children worldwide the International Labour Organisation (ILO) launched World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June 2002. This day is intended to serve as a catalyst for the growing worldwide movement against child labour.

To take stern action against and raise awareness on child labour Bachpan Bachao Andolan launched its campaign India Action Week Against Child Labour 2010. Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) is a non conventional NGO based in Delhi founded by Mr. Kailash Satyarthi.

This campaign is spread across Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. BBA activists identify places where child labourers are employed and then with the help of the law enforcement agencies conduct raids to rescue them.

“A complaint is filed with the police after identifying child labour and then rescue operations are conducted. These raids are conducted jointly by local police, labour department officials and the District Magistrate. Delhi High court has given a judgement for the formation of a special task force for these rescue operations which has helped significantly,” says Bhuvan, a BBA activist

“As a result of the campaign more than 2000 child labourers have been identified and close to 500 have already been rescued,” Bhuvan added.

Child labour is a deep rooted problem in India and it is not an easy task to eradicate. BBA activists constantly face threats from the nexus running the child labour network. The nexus is more prevalent in sweatshops than dhabas and domestic labour.

During one such raid in Rajasthan 50 children were identified but only 11 could be rescued. Bhuvan spoke of another incident in Rajasthan where close to a hundred people gheraoed the local police station to protest against the rescue.

“It was found during one rescue operation that the employer told the children that the cops were there to catch them because they weren’t able to finish their work on time and asked them to escape,” he said.

The campaign got a fair response from responsible citizens who called from all corners informing about instances of child labour in their locality.

BBA is careful about preventing the rescued children from falling prey again. All rescued child labourers are entitled to a compensation of Rs. 20,000 from the Government and Rs.10,000 or more from the employer. This compensation is used to create a scholarship fund in the name of the child and every month he/she receives money towards education.

“We did a sample survey in 2008 and 2009 where we found that 19 out of 300 rescued children are re-trafficked. To keep a check on re-trafficking BBA activists do a rigorous follow up every few months,” he said.

There have been several instances where the rescued child either does not know his address or their family refuses to accept them back. In such cases, these children are sent to BBA’s rehabilitation centre in Rajasthan. Children aged 10-11 are given informal education for them to be able to catch up with mainstream education. Children above 11 undergo vocational training and skill development programmes which later help them to run their own small enterprises.

It is unfortunate to hear people justifying employment of child labour saying they are helping the poor kid earn a living. Each one of us need to realise that child labour is a crime and by employing a child they are neither helping them nor doing any justice to them.

“People who employ children for domestic help often say that they treat them as their own children. It is very ironic that they engage them in manual labour instead of putting them in a school. If someone wants to help them in any way then he/ she must employ adult members of the child’s family and empower them to give the child a better life,” the activist said.

Take a pledge on ‘World Day Against Child Labour – 12th June 2010’ not to encourage any form of child labour and protest against those who employ children.

For more information on Bachpan Bachao Andolan visit their website

Image courtesy: Senthil Kumar - Source

: : Written by Namit Agarwal : :


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