Chennai, India. October 29, 2016: 10 Indian teenage boys, allegedly trafficked and held captive in a shoe sole factory in Karnataka, have been rescued by the police after the needy kids sent a tip-off from a Children’s Helpline.
Activists have reported that hundreds of children, mostly hailing from the poverty-stricken rural areas of states like Bihar are brought to Bengaluru of Karnataka by agents hiring them out to unscrupulous employers or selling the kids as contractual labor.
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In an interview over the telephone, an 18-year-old teenager Adhir Paswan reported to Thomson Reuters Foundation, “I sneaked out one night and bought a telephone card, I made the distress call to our families and a helpline in Bihar. We were not being paid and the younger boys were being beaten and abused.”
Another boy, 17, stated that he has not been paid in a year.
6 boys from Bihar were rescued from a decoration-manufacturing factory in Bengaluru, earlier this month.
The number of child laborers in India who are aged between 5 and 17 is about 5.7 million out of 168 million worldwide- as estimated by the International Labor Organization in 2015.
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More than half of India’s child laborers work in the agricultural sector and over a quarter, labor in the manufacturing segment. The government has very recently amended the Child Labor Law in order to permit the children to work to help their families and to cut down the number of banned occupations for the adolescents.
The rescue team included the Association for Promoting Social Action which is a charity, running a helpline in Bengaluru. A member of the association, Lakshapathi Pendyala, made a statement to the Thomas Reuters Foundation, saying “The sole factory was a miserable place, and the boys were working from nine in the morning to nine at night. They were made to sleep in the workplace only, which was filled with the smell of glue used in sticking the soles. Several chemicals and glues were being used by the boys without any protection and some of the boys had deep cuts on their palms.”
The rescuers reported in a statement that the boys, who were working as the laborers, were aged between 14 and 18 and were brought to Bengaluru by almost five different traffickers from the Sitamarhi district in Bihar.
In the accounts to the officials, the boys reported that none had the permission to visit or call their families and they were forced to work all through the day with little breaks for meals only.
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Paswan claimed that they were promised wages of 7000 rupees each month and after sending the money to the families for a few months, the payments were discontinued.
Police have registered a case against the owner of the factory and two traffickers under the anti-slavery legislation. They arrested two and the factory owner is at large, investigating police, reported in an interview, requesting anonymity.
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