Friday December 15, 2017
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Do not buy Mica from Child Workers, Appeal Indian Officials

The International Labor Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally

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Children working with Mica. Image source: www.terredeshommes.nl
  • Thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines
  • Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down
  • The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture

MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Indian officials appealed to local traders on Tuesday asking them to stop buying mica mined by child workers. The government comes under pressure from activists to clamp down on child labor as thousands of children risk their lives working for a pittance in India’s crumbling mica mines, extracting the sparkly mineral used in lipsticks and eye-shadow as well as electronics.

Officials from the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) visited the eastern state of Jharkhand this month to assess the extent of child labor in its mica mines. The state, along with Bihar state, produces about three-quarters of the mica mined in India.

“Many of these mines are illegal and they hire child workers to keep costs down. But legal or not, no one should be engaging child workers – it is against the law,” said Yashwant Jain, a member of NCPCR, who visited Jharkhand.

“We met with some traders and told them not to buy mica from child workers. We told them we would take strict action against anyone caught doing so,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Thousands of children climb down narrow mine shafts with no safety equipment, and cut mica with hammers and chisels for up to eight hours a day, activists say.

The work puts children at risk of skin disease, respiratory infections, injury and death.

Child labor at a mine Image Source: Numero Unity

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The International Labour Organization estimates there are 5.7 million child workers in India aged five to 17, out of 168 million globally. Up to 20,000 children may be working in the mica mines in Jharkhand and Bihar, according to some estimates.

The current law bans children under 14 from working in only 18 hazardous occupations and 65 processes including mining, gem cutting and cement manufacture.

India wants to amend the three-decade-old law to outlaw child labour in all sectors. But children who help in family businesses will be permitted to work outside school hours, a loophole that activists say may be exploited by unscrupulous employers.

The mica from illegal mines is sold to traders or intermediaries, who sell it to exporters, who in turn sell it to manufacturers of cosmetics, chemicals and electronics. Few have systems to check the use of child labour, activists say.

Indian Nobel Laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi has said big corporations must do more to clean up their supply chains and ensure that no child labour is involved in the products they manufacture.

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Jain said it would not be fair to target the children’s families, who are usually poor and illiterate.

“We realise it is poverty that is driving these villagers to send their children to the mines, not to schools,” he said.

“So we are putting the onus on the traders, who are benefiting from the situation. Only by raising awareness that what they are doing is wrong can we solve the problem.”(Reuters)

ALSO READ:

  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

  • Aparna Gupta

    This is a great step to curb the evil of child labour and will surely help in child upliftment.

  • Shubhi Mangla

    Strict action must be against those who hire child laborers in hazardous jobs. It is justified that those children should be allowed to work who belong to poor families but after school. But making them work in much mines is putting their life at stake.

  • AJ Krish

    New laws must be passed so that no child works in such hazardous conditions. The loopholes present in the current law must be overcome so that child labor can be put to a complete stop.

  • Vrushali Mahajan

    Hiring children for such dangerous jobs is a crime. People should take action against these workers who hire children for such work. These children are not only exposed to harmful conditions but are also paid very less

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Bride Sale in India: Buy A Wife Policy

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Human Trafficking
Bride Slavery in India: Abhishek Suresh

Bride Sale: Story of transformation of Indian Bride into Slave Bride

Samridhi Nain

Bride Sale in India seems to be trending in Haryana, a state with the lowest sex ratio, even marriage continues to be a way of exploitation as Indian brides for marriage are purchased at cattle rate and trafficked into the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
These ‘brides’ are imported from poverty-stricken states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orrisa, West Bengal & Assam, where the traffickers either take advantage of the family’s poverty or abduct the young girls varying anywhere between the ages of 15 and 30, according to 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The bride sale practice has been completely normal in the northern states due to the acute shortage of girls because of practices like sex selection and female foeticide. But if the reports are to be believed then even if not a single case of female foeticide takes place in Haryana, it would still take 50 years to get the numbers back to normal from India’s sex ratio today. However, the problem remains as locals & Khap leaders keep refusing to accept the facts at hand. Some believe it is the education of women that is the root problem because they want to marry a man who is also well-educated, whereas some believe that there has always been a shortage of girls but before where one woman would take care of five brothers, now, it requires five separate women to do the same.
As Haryana keeps preferring the male child and that male child grows up to prefer a bride, the best solution available at hand remains of these women who are bought at a price varying on their age, beauty & virginity and once bought, they are turned into a slave bride. Once married, these women can be resold as they are not viewed as a respected member but a commodity as they are not considered to be entitled to any inheritance by the family.
Human Trafficking to Bride Sale
Stencil of Missing Girls Project, Wikimedia Commons
A field study, covering 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonipat & Mewat districts had been conducted on the impact of the sex ratio on marriage which covered over 10,000 households and found that 9,000 married women were bought from other states. The study was conducted by NGO Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra but the families kept denying of any exchange of money for the bride.
In 2016, the ministry of women and child development came up with India’s first comprehensive anti-trafficking laws under ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 but the bill faces many challenges and is believed to not achieve its objectives of preventing trafficking & providing protection & rehabilitation to trafficked victims. Activists also believe that the bill will be able to do very little to stop the bride sale.
With such haunting demographics at hand, the hope still remains that sooner or later, the government might realize the need for stringent implementation of the rules & regulations to stop the violation of these young women at the hands of sex traffickers and quell this ‘Buy A Bride’ policy.
-Samridhi is a student of Philosophy Hons. at the University of Delhi.

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Undaunted Initiative by tribal women for forest preservation in Muturkham, Jharkhand

Muturkhum forest saved from deforestation and exploitation under Timber mafia due to collective efforts of tribal women

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forest under the threat o deforestation in Muthurkam saved by tribal women. pexeby

8th Nov, 2017, Jharkhand:Armed with just water bottles and sticks, a group of poor tribal women in Muturkham village of Purbi Singhbhum district of Jharkhandtrekked miles to the sal forest that surrounded their habitat. Their mission: To save the forest from being plundered and denuded by the “forest mafia”.

Accompanied by just a dog for their safety, these determined women made frequent forays into the deep forest — with which they shared a symbiotic relationship — and have been able, over the years, to successfully conserve 50 hectares of forest land and its flora and fauna deep in the heart of a territory that has also been a battle zone between government forces and left-wing extremists.

This group was brought together by Jamuna Tudu, 37, who has spent the last two decades of her life fighting against deforestation. It was in 1998, after her marriage, that Jamuna took up this challenge of preserving the forest by making villagers develop a stake in it.

 

orest saved from deforestation by tribal women in Muturkham. pexeby

Today, her Van Suraksha Samiti (Forest Protection Group) has about 60 active women members who patrol the jungle in shifts thrice a day: Morning, noon and evening. And sometimes even at night, as the mafia set fire to the forests in random acts of vandalism and vengeance.

Jamuna’s fight has not gone unnoticed. The President of India has honoured her conservation efforts.

“Few days after my marriage, when my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and a few other women from the village took me to the forest to cut wood and get it to cook food, I felt that if we keep cutting the trees this way, all our forests will be wiped out,” Jamuna recalled to IANS in an interview.

In her quest, she had to battle against the mafia that was chopping down trees for their precious sal timber with complete disregard for the law or the tribal tradition that prohibits cutting of the trees.

Realising that she would get little help from authorities, who may well have been hand in glove with the mafia, she took matters in her own hands. She spoke to a few women of the village who were quite aghast at the task she had taken on. We won’t do it; this will require us to fight the men in the village, they told her.

But Jamuna, who has studied up to Class X, foresaw a bleak green-less future for herself and her community with no trees and forests to sustain or protect them.

‘Jungle nahi rahega toh paryavaran kaise bachega (how will we protect the environment if the forest is destroyed)?’ she asked.

Jamuna’s clear understanding of the issue soon trickled down to the other women and even men in her village.

“I was brought up with a love and respect for nature. My father used to plant numerous trees in our farms in Odisha. That’s where I learnt the importance of the environment,” she said.

Pointing out how the mafia was exploiting the wood from Muturkham to fund their alcohol needs, she said she was bewildered by the passive response of the community at their habitat being slowly destroyed.

“I went on to speak to a few women in the village. I held a meeting with them several times to be able to convince them that we needed to protect our beautiful forests,” she said.

Gradually, she mobilised a group of 25 women from the village and armed them with bows and arrows, bamboo sticks and spears, they marched into the forest to take on the forest predators.

With time, many men also became part of the campaign against deforestation, but most of the effort has continued to be from women, said Jamuna.

There are many daunting challenges that came their way, but their single-minded dedication towards their cause kept them going.

“There were too many altercations with the village people initially.. many scuffles with the mafia… and I told those women that in this journey, we would come across both good and bad times, but we have to struggle to keep the forest,” said Jamuna.

The group convinced the railway authorities to bar the plundered wood from being exported.

“Some time in 2008-09, we were brutally attacked by the mafia,” she said.

“They pelted stones at us while we were coming back from the railway station after speaking to the station master. Everybody got injured,” she added.

For obvious reasons, Jamuna, the woman whose initiatives were hampering their business, was their main target. She and her husband suffered most in the assault.

“My husband got hit on his head as he tried to save me. It was dark and we somehow managed to run away. We narrowly escaped death that day.” But she did not give up.

Over 15 years of many fierce encounters with the mafia and relentless sensitisation of the community, Jamuna, and the Van Suraksha Samiti that she formed, have succeeded in protecting and conserving the 50 hectares of forest land not just surrounding her village, but around many others as well.

Tribal communities cannot survive without wood. They need it for various things — mostly to cook food. But they ensure that their requirements remain within sustainable limits.

“We don’t cut trees on purpose any more and use the fallen trees and branches for all our needs,” Jamuna said. “The amount we are able to save up during the rains is sufficient for the whole year.”

The Forest Department has “adopted” her village, which has led to Muturkham getting a water connection and a school.

In 2013, Jamuna was conferred with the Godfrey Phillips Bravery Award in the ‘Acts of Social Courage’ category and this year in August, she was awarded with Women Transforming India Award by the NITI Aayog.

Today, she runs awareness campaigns through various forest committees in Kolhan Division. Around 150 committees formed by Jamuna, comprising more than 6,000 members, have joined her movement to save the forests.

She wants to do a lot more. “I wish to do a lot… to make a lot more difference, but I am bound by limited resources. I can’t in many ways afford to go beyond the villages in my state.”

But if I get more support, many more forests like ours can be saved, she declared.

(This feature is part of a special series that seeks to bring unique and extraordinary stories of ordinary people, groups and communities from across a diverse, plural and inclusive India, and has been made possible by a collaboration between IANS and the Frank Islam Foundation. Mudita Girotra can be contacted at mudita.g@ians.in)

 

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At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence: Amitabh Bachchan

This is what Amitabh Bachchan has to say on the notice of BMC.

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Amitabh Bachchan
Amitabh Bachchan. Wikimedia Commons
  • Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan says at 75 he only seeks freedom from prominence, which has seen him face allegations in the Bofors scandal, Panama Papers case and most recently for “illegal construction” on his property.

“At this age and time of my life, I seek peace and freedom from prominence… To be left to lead the last few years of my life with and within myself… I do not seek epithets, I abhor them… I do not seek headlines, I do not deserve them/. I do not seek acknowledgment, I am not qualified for it,” Amitabh posted on his blog on Sunday.

Amitabh’s post comes just days after his lawyer denied any illegal construction on the actor’s property in Mumbai’s Goregaon East area in relation to a notice sent by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).

“The mentioned ‘notices’ have yet to be seen or served to me. But I guess in time it shall come.”

In the lengthy post, Amitabh said when there are accusations, “at times, I would prefer to correct the manner… At times it is prudent to remain quiet”.

But on an issue such as the BMC allegation, he said it’s the “system that shall resolve it, not the media”.

The actor, who has been in the industry for over four decades, also cited past examples, such as what he went through when his family’s name cropped up in the Bofors scandal.

“For years we were grilled, declared traitors, abused and humiliated by the hour for several years…,” he wrote, and further recalled how they moved against a UK paper and won.

He said how after almost 25 years later, their name was cleared in the scandal.

“When the media carried the news here in India, the press during one of its interactions with me asked me what I was going to do about it… Whether I would seek information on who did it or seek retribution.

“What retribution and information will I seek’ Will it take away the years of suffering and mental torture that we went through’ Will it cure… Will it rest’ No, it will not… So I told them, the media, I do not wish to make any comment on it… the matter is over for me.”

Amitabh Bachchan also brought up his mention in the Panama Papers leaks.

“We were asked for reactions, for responses, for justification or not, for replies to their investigative queries… Two instant replies were given out by us… Of denial and misuse of the name. They were printed… but the questions continued.”

“The fullest cooperation has been extended at all hours as dutiful citizens. And even after, if there is any more query that needs to be addressed, we shall comply,” he added.

In the end, he quoted a Jewish joke.

“A Jew passes away and goes to Heaven, knocks on the door of the Lord, and having suffered the ostracized life that the community has, asks the Lord: ‘Lord! Is it true that we are the chosen people” The Lord looked benevolently at the Jew and in a most gentle voice replied: ‘Yes my son .. you are the chosen people’. And the Jew replied: ‘Dear Lord… Would you mind choosing someone else for a change… Coz we’ve had enough!’”

Amitabh Bachchan concluded: “I often wish that for myself.”(IANS)