Child labour: Can the ‘abused’ dream?


By Swati Gilotra

New Delhi: Flipping through today’s newspaper, I came across the headline “Dangling from sari on 13th floor, child escapes her abusive employers.”  The story is about Rakesh Sinha’s family who lives in Noida’s Exotica Frescoe Apartments on the 12th floor and has shifted there a month ago.

On Monday night, Sinha’s doorbell rang and his wife saw a girl in her early teens standing outside their door, waiting in anticipation for the door to be opened. What surprised them was the fact that the girl was a ‘servant’ and was living on the 13th floor, where her masters physically abused her and she was made to work from 5 am till 10 pm.

Trying to flee from the clutches of the abusers, she escaped by climbing down a floor with the help of a sari that she had tied to the kitchen balcony of the 13th floor. However, her employers tried their level best to take her back as soon as they got to know about the issue.

child labour caged edited pic


The girl spent that night with another family. In the morning, a woman constable arrived and she was handed over to an NGO, Bachpan Bachao Andolan. The NGO took custody of the girl and a complaint related to sections under juvenile justice was registered at the Surajpur police station.

She informed the NGO that her family and her employers are from Lakhimpur Kheri, where her father works at a juice cart and she has seven siblings. Her father had sent her with this family, thinking that she would be able to study there, as promised. Her family was given Rs 3,000 before she was sent to work.

SSP Preetinder Singh said a medical examination would be conducted, followed by the statement recording procedure. Her parents have been contacted; although initially they were reluctant about an NGO being involved in the issue but now they are on their way. The investigation, however, is underway.

After reading this article, the major question that we need to ask is how far can we as city dwellers go to slaughter the dreams of innocent people who blindly rely on ‘educated’ people and send their children away to big cities so that their conditions could be better.

Are we really ‘civil’ in treating these children as workers? Providing them with houses which they will perhaps never call ‘home’, as ‘home’ is a place where one is safe and sound. But if they face horrors inside these houses, would it ever be a place where they would love to live?

Photo Credit :
Photo Credit :

In this case, the girl’s father was lured as he thought his daughter would study and carve a niche for herself. However, he was totally oblivious of the fact that she would have to witness atrocities at the hands of people who impersonated a good demeanor. I agree to the fact that there are cases in which families, which suffer through major financial crunch, poverty, and lack of resources, willingly sell their children to fulfill their basic needs. But is there any solution to this malaise?

We blame the poor for turning children into scapegoats but if they do not indulge in such malpractices, how will they thrive? I am not an advocate of child selling but their impoverished state compels them to resort to desperate measures.

We talk about India endeavor as a super power, literacy spike, and GDP sessions but if you factor in this rampant apathy, is growth in essence actually happening? Does it reflect INCREDIBLE INDIA when a child, who should be playing in parks, is molested, sold and abused to death? Of course, we are free from British raj now but we, ourselves, have turned colonial masters against the poor. The oppression still continues with many new masters and countless new slaves.

Every now and then we write, read and see slogans titled STOP CHILD LABOUR; but are we actually doing enough to abolish it? The government should make some laws! And, this is how we convince ourselves and crash into our pillows every day.

Facts and researches do quote of children being rescued by NGOs every day. However, it is disheartening to know that these NGOs have also, in a way, become perpetrators of violence. Some NGOs have, in fact, abused these rescued kids by forcing them in to prostitution or made them accessible to pedophiles. However, the gender-based violence is not prevalent in these cases as both girls and boys are being abused. So, it not just specifically girls who are being abused but also young boys who go through hell in numerous ways.

Read more on this issue here: Child abuse in India: Are existing solutions any good?