Monday December 18, 2017
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Child labour: Can the ‘abused’ dream?

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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 : ibtimes.co.uk
Photo Credit : ibtimes.co.uk

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?

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One out of Two Children face Child Sexual Abuse: The Growing Problem of Child Sexual Abuse in India

A recent survey by World Vision India reveals that 50% children have faced sexual abuse in India

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  • One out of two children in India face child sexual abuse.
  • The perpetrators of sexual abuse among children are often close to them and trusted by the family.
  • The children from economically backward families are often trafficked and abused.
  • Information, awareness and communication are important tools for handling sexual abuse among children.

Child sexual abuse and child trafficking are rapidly festering problems in India, as a recent survey by World Vision India reveals that out of 45,844 children interviewed, almost half of them have been subjected to sexual abuse. The alarming statistics which indicate the unsafe circumstances faced by children also pose a glaring question: how do we know when a child has been abused?

Child sexual abuse is one of the least addressed issues in India, because of the taboo and the social stigma associated with it. Most children who have been abused refuse to disclose their discomfort out of shame and fear of punishment, as in most cases, the perpetrators of the child sexual abuse are persons who are explicitly trusted by the family. According to a survey conducted by the Government of India in 2007, the sexual abuse of children occurs mostly between the ages of 5 and 12, when they are unable to articulate their pain, as they lack the basic training to discriminate between affection and abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused.
Stock images, Wikipedia

Child trafficking in India

The problem of child sexual abuse in India among children is further intensified by the issue of child trafficking, as many economically backward families with multiple children often engage their children in labour, in an effort to earn their daily subsistence. The children employed in illegal labour are often trafficked away from their homes and even outside the country, where they become victims of child sexual abuse. The education system in India, which is often inaccessible to the children of the underdeveloped sections of the society, also become victims of child trafficking, as they lack the awareness and the information which might protect them from child sexual abuse.

Children engaged in labour are often trafickked and sexually abused
Stock image, Wikipedia

How to combat child sexual abuse

The main weapons in the battle against sexual abuse among children are communication and awareness. Once children learn to identify potential sexual predators, necessary steps may be adopted to ensure their safety and security. The development of a ‘safe space’ for children, where they may confide in adults without the fear of judgement or persecution might encourage them to disclose their concerns, which might help in the identification of potential threats which may hamper their well being.

“Despite one in every two children being a victim of child sexual abuse, there continues to be a huge silence. The magnitude of sexual violence against children is unknown,” states Cherian Thomas, the Director of World Vision India, claiming that one out of four families do not lodge complaints regarding cases of child sexual abuse. The unwillingness to engage in conversations regarding the growing menace of sexual abuse and trafficking among children also pose a major problem while combating with issues that threaten the safety of children. “I feel it is time that we all come under one banner and umbrella to focus our work around child protection,” said Cherian, encouraging parent-child conversation regarding sexual violence, as a measure to combat the prevalence of such crimes.

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Sexual abuse is everywhere in the world, says Radhika

The actress believes that one should know how to say 'No'

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Radhika Apte's view on sexual abuse
Bollywood actress Radhika Apte says that sexual abuse is not only in B-town but in every part of the society. Wikimedia Commons

– Durga Chakravarty

Actress Radhika Apte feels that sexual abuse does not only exist in the world of showbiz but takes place in every alternate household.

“Sexual abuse takes place in every alternate household. So it’s not a part of just the film industry. You have so much child abuse, domestic abuse everywhere in the world, including India,” Radhika told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

She says it exists in “every field and household at some level or the other and that it all needs to be eliminated”.

Sexual abuse does not target just women, stresses Radhika.

“It’s also towards men, little boys and everybody. People exploit their power at every level.”

Radhika asserted that this needed to change.

“I think it starts from us putting our foot down and saying ‘no’ to things, however big your ambition is. You need to be brave about it, believe in your own talent, say ‘no’ and start speaking up because if one person speaks up, nobody is going to listen to him or her. But if 10 people do, then others would (listen to them),” she said.

The “Phobia” actress, who will be seen mentoring budding filmmakers in MTV’s upcoming digital show “Fame-istan”, says there has to be a more organised platform for people to work.

“There has to be more professional platforms as well as rules in place which is slowly happening.”

Sexual abuse has been a topic of debate in Bollywood and Hollywood. Prominent names from the entertainment industry are discussing how men in power take advantage of women in exchange for taking forward their dreams.

The sexual harassment saga started when a media house published a story in October revealing numerous accusations of sexual abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

But why are no names taken in the case of casting couch in Bollywood?

“Because of fear, because people who have great ambitions are afraid. They think of what will happen to them if they take somebody’s name who has so much power. That’s what I am saying. Everybody has to speak up,” she added.

Radhika ventured into Bollywood in 2005 with “Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi!” and since then has explored genres like thriller, drama and adult comedy with films like “Rakht Charitra”, “Shor in the City”, “Badlapur”, “Parched” and “Hunterrr”.

Was it a conscious decision to act less in commercial entertainers?

Radhika said: “Nothing like that. You have to choose from the work that you have. You can’t say that ‘I want that’ if that’s not been offered to you. So, whatever is offered to you, you choose from that. You make your choice whatever you feel is going to be more challenging or something that inspires you or excites you.”

She says she makes her choices in the “spur of the moment” with whatever she feels intuitively. “I am not a very big planner.” (IANS)

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Stable Owner in Mumbai Booked for Cruelty to a Pregnant Cow after Complaint by NGO

Non Governmental Organization called People for Animals, upon learning of the incident, filed a complaint after which the stable owner was booked by the D.B Marg Police

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Cruelty to Cow
An infected cow was abandoned by its owner. Wikimedia
  • People for Animals is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) 
  • They were reported of an incident by local animal enthusiast group called Foundation For Mumbai Animals (FFMA)
  • The incident involved a severely infected cow being left abandoned by a stable owner

Mumbai, August 29, 2017: A Stable owner has been booked here for abandoning one of his cows who was pregnant and severely infected.

Non Governmental Organization called People for Animals, upon learning of the incident, filed a complaint after which the stable owner was booked by the D.B Marg Police.

ALSO READ:  India Increase in Attacks related to Cow Vigilantism under Narendra Modi Government: Report.

The abandoned cow was found wandering in Khetwadi. Local Animal enthusiast group called Foundation for Mumbai Animals (FFMA) found the cow and informed People for Animals (PFA).

Maggot infestation was found in the cow’s hooves and it was clear that the animal was in pain. Pandurang Shinde, a Senior Police Inspector told to the Hindu, “We have booked the accused under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and are conducting further inquiries. The accused has claimed that the cow wandered off four days ago, and that he too was looking for her.”

PFA member Nirali Koradia stated, “We reached out to Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone II) Dnyaneshwar Chavan, and he directed his officers to take action.”

The Stable owner, who sells milk for living, claims that the cow wandered off on its own. The cow is being treated for her infections. The FFMA has also claimed that this same person has been booked for cruelty earlier.


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