Monday December 10, 2018
Home India Child labour:...

Child labour: Can the ‘abused’ dream?

0
//
Republish
Reprint

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?

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 NewsGram

Next Story

How Auxillary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) in Remote Tribal Belts of Andhra Pradesh in India have brought down Maternal Deaths to Zero

With 4,000 employees in just its health vertical, Piramal Swasthya is prehaps the largest NGO in India, implementing 29 healthcare projects in 16 states.

0
Akaru women, MATERNAL DEATHS
Midwifing change: How maternity deaths were reduced to zero in remote tribal hamlets. Flickr

The scenic beauty of Araku Valley in Andhra Pradesh is in stark contrast to the lives of indigenous tribespeople inhabiting the region. Living in virtual destitution, these tribals — like their counterparts scattered in remote locations across the rest of India — lack access to basic amenities like safe drinking water, healthcare and education. Till a few years ago, some of these habitations were not even covered in the national census and nobody knew they even existed.

But efforts of a leading NGO over the last seven years have yielded results in 181 habitations around Araku. This is testified by the fact that no maternal deaths have been reported here over the last two years — a giant step forward for a place where maternal mortality was double the national average.

Before emerging as a tourist destination about a decade ago, Araku, 100 km from the port city of Visakhapatnam, was an area that was the redoubt of Maoist extremists. Politicians and officials used to stay away from this forested area in the Eastern Ghats.

The population in scattered and inaccessible hamlets was suffering from malnutrition, leading to high maternal mortality and neonatal mortality rates. Some traditional practices of the tribals and deliveries at home were also contributing to this situation.

Araku, Maternal Deaths
Araku Valley is a hill station and valley region in the southeastern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. Flickr

When the NGO Piramal Swasthya, the health vertical of Piramal Foundation, launched the Asara Tribal Health Programme in 2011, maternal mortality in this tribal area was over 400 per 100,000 live births as against the then national average of around 200.

No maternal deaths have been reported over the last two years while the percentage of institutional deliveries has risen from 18 per cent to 68 per cent. The neonatal mortality rate too has come down from 37 to 10 per 100,000 live births, say the officials of Piramal Swasthya.

The agents behind this change are Auxillary Nurse Midwives (ANMs) like P. Padma who toil selflessly to help the pregnant women in these remote hamlets. The 27-year-old has been working with the NGO for six years and has attended about 3,000 women. She has seen the transformation.

“The situation in the tribal hamlets was pathetic as women were reluctant to come to hospitals for delivery. A major reason for this was the superstition among tribals. Piramal Swasthya has removed the superstitions and motivated the women,” Padma told IANS.

Padma travels 12-13 km in a four-wheeler and, when the road ends, she goes on a bike driven by a “pilot”, covering another 11 km. When this narrow path also ends, she hikes across mountains and valleys for another 12-13 km to the last habitation of Araku.

Araku, Native Women, India, maternal deaths
A Native Women From Araku. Flickr

This is what she does every day, explains Vishal Phanse, Chief Executive Officer, Piramal Swasthya.

Once in the habitation, the ANM identifies every pregnant woman, conducts basic tests, provides counselling on healthy practices and fixes an appointment for consultation with a specialist at the telemedicine centre. The next day, a four-wheeler is sent to pick up all pregnant women registered and get them to the telemedicine centre, where an expert gynaecologist sitting in Hyderabad provides the consultation through teleconferencing. Free medication, along with nutrition supplements, is also provided to the expectant mother and she is then dropped back to her habitation.

“If a woman can’t walk we arrange ‘palki’ (a kind of palanquin) to bring her till the four-wheeler to take her to the telemedicine centre,” Padma said. Last month, a woman delivered a baby on the palki in Colliguda village. She helped the woman and later safely transported her and the newborn to the hospital.

ANMs support the women and children through their pregnancy, child birth and neonatal period while keeping the government machinery in the loop.

Piramal Swasthya overcame all odds to achieve its goal of ending preventable deaths in 181 habitations, serving 49,000 pregnant women.

Adding some more interventions like training traditional birth attendants and health education of adolescent girls, it is now expanding the programme across 11 “mandals” or blocks comprising 1,179 habitations in the tribal belt of Visakhapatnam district to reach 2.5 lakh population.

It is currently running six telemedicine centres and plans to add five more. The NGO will also be opening two more community nutrition hubs in addition to existing one, where women are educated about a healthy and nutritious diet and trained in the use of traditional and locally available food items.

Araku ,women, maternal deaths
No maternal deaths have been reported over the last two years while the percentage of institutional deliveries has risen from 18 per cent to 68 per cent. Flickr

Based on the learning in Visakhapatnam, the NGO wants to create something which can be replicated in the entire tribal belt of India. More than 10 percent of India’s population is tribal and among them maternal mortality is two-and-a-half times the national average.

“If what works in Araku, works in Visakhapatnam, then we can replicate it in the entire tribal belt of the country,” said Phanse.

Niti Aayog, India’s policy think-tank, is looking at this model with key interest as to how they can scale it up.

“In fact, a lot of people including the United Nations, governments in states and at the Centre are looking at it. We had a lot of visitors trying to understand how we managed to do this. We ourselves are learning every day. Technology is a great enabler if you have to scale it up at the national level.”

Phanse believes that 80 percent of what worked in Araku can be replicated in tribal areas across the country and 20 percent could be local customisation that they have to work on.

What worked for Piramal Swasthya in Araku? “We have doctors, public health professionals and experts with the youngest aged 26 and the oldest 78. That’s the kind of expertise we have with actual feet on the ground. Our actuality to work with them, for them, staying with them and understanding them is what I think has worked best for us,” said Phanse.

Akaru women, maternal deaths
ANM’s support the women and children through their pregnancy, child birth and neonatal period while keeping the government machinery in the loop. Flickr

“If you want make anything sustainable in healthcare you have to create health seeking behaviour in the community. We were successful because we changed the community,” he added.

Phanse feels that the community engagement and participation in the programme is key to its success.

For Piramal, winning the trust of the local community was the key challenge. As Araku was an extremist stronghold, gaining the trust of locals took time.

Most of the 38 people that work for the organisation are from the local community who are wedded to the cause. Forging the local partnership by using the services of dedicated individuals who can speak the language of the community ensured smooth implementation.

Also Read: The Plight of India’s Homeless Women Increases As Cities Expand

With 4,000 employees in just its health vertical, Piramal Swasthya is prehaps the largest NGO in India, implementing 29 healthcare projects in 16 states.

India ranks 131 among 188 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI) 2016 released by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). India was placed behind countries like Gabon (109), Egypt (111), Indonesia (113), South Africa (119) and Iraq (121), among others. The government is working towards improving this rating by creating competition between states to perform better on key social indicators like infant mortality rate, maternal mortality rate and life expectancy. (IANS)