Child labour: Whose problem is it anyway? - The New Indian Express

Child labour: Whose problem is it anyway?

Published: 24th January 2013 08:55 AM

Last Updated: 24th January 2013 08:55 AM

The proverbial lost look, unkempt hair and a face stained by the toils of the night and the day typically describes a child labourer.

India has the dubious distinction of being the country with the maximum number of child labour in the world and the rescue of the 44 child labourers from a bag-making factory on Tuesday does not come across as a surprise experts felt.

According to them, children drop out of school and enter the labour market for survival due to extreme poverty, migration and illiteracy of their parents. 

Deepak,13, (Name cha-nged),  one of the rescued boys, said, “We came here for work. Though we were made to work very hard and had to sleep in a crowded place and didn’t have bath, we were getting food.”

He reportedly told a counsellor of NGO Bosco that the his family’s condition in Bihar was so pathetic that he was hardly eating three times a day. Sandeep (12) (Name changed) said, “There is nothing in our village. Our parents thought our lives will be better if we go to the city for work. I used to go to school once, but then my family condition became bad, I dropped out.”

Such is the poverty, the children admitted they left home for a livelihood opportunity so that at least their families can live better, N P Rajendra Prasad, Superintendent and Probation Officer, Government Observation Home, where these rescued children have been housed, said.

“This sporadic effort taken up by the police and Labour Department is not enough. In the Bangalore Market area alone, there are at least 12,000 child labourers waiting to be rescued. It is high time the government gets proactive about it instead of side stepping it,” Fr George, Executive Director of Bosco, the nodal agency for the Missing Children Bureau and Collaborating agency for Child Line, said.

Priscilla, Project Officer, Bangalore Child Development Project of World Vision highlighted another aspect of the problem - the urban migration.

“Everyday, we see people from villages near and far are moving into the city for work. Most of these children don’t go to schools. They either do not know the local language or stay back home to look after their younger siblings. All school dropouts are potential child labourers. Eventually we see them enter the labour market as they come cheap,” Priscilla said.

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