Children Get Backwages from Child Labor
Earlier this week 50 children who were forced into child labor were compensated by their erstwhile employers under an operation carried out by the Child Welfare Committee.
According to this report in Deccan Herald,
[the children were] either dumped by their parents or ‘sold’ by them to their employers, who used them for domestic and professional help. They were rescued by various voluntary organisations and produced before the CWC. Made to work for long hours, fed poorly and abused on and off, the faces of the rescued children showed no emotion when they were given the [compenstion in the form of bonds to be enchased in six years].
Using children to work in homes in the city, is, I am sad and disgusted to say, a rampant practice. These children are usually transplanted from villages, brought to the city by their own families and left (more likely “sold” for a few thousand rupees) in a household where they are expected to work from early in the morning until late at night, often doing back breaking work such as washing clothes by hand, mopping floors, etc.
Most of these children are young girls (boys often end up in factories or quarries) who suffer abuse at the hands of their employers, physical as well as emotional. It is very upsetting to see these girls taking care of their employers’ children and often they are not much older than their wards.
What is ironic is that there is no culture of children, even teens, of these employers doing any sort of work, i.e., they do not baby sit or take up summer jobs, or help in the neighborhood, etc. The employers coddle their kids. They are taken care of, someone is at their beck and call – to pick up clothes after them, clean their rooms, make their beds, pack their lunches… But the employers don’t bat an eyelid when hiring children as domestic help or employees for their factories, farms or quarries.
These children should be in school, studying, preparing themselves to get out of the kinds of financial messes their parents have gotten into. What motivates the employers to hire them? That the children are cheap labor? That they have tiny fingers? That they have nowhere to go? I really don’t know.
At least stories like the one in the newspaper give one a glimmer of hope. Various NGOs were responsible for locating the children and bringing them in front of the CWC.
The Makkala Sahaya Vani (Children’s Helpline) can be reached at 1098 (in Bangalore from a landline). Please call if you notice children being worked in homes or in places of work.