Thursday, June 18, 2009

Child Labor! What would you do?

Picture courtesy GMB Akash.
Heres a set of very compelling pictures a friend sent me

I get worked up sometimes when I feel helpless about certain issues feel strongly about. Child labor is one of those. But really, we can make a difference, even if it is just one person we can reach. We decided to get some current situation updates and had this discussion with a bunch of friends in India. According to them, most industrial places now do not have child laborers because of the stringent laws and fines. This is good to hear.. but i am sure there are small scale places which still employ children and what about domestic help?

For example, another friends family recently replaced their domestic help by a 11-12 year old girl. Reasons for getting that young a girl
- Cheaper labor (she is taking home 1/5 th price of 17-18 yr old)
- young children are more honest, dont necessarily steal and dont keep switching jobs.

Of course that was enough to get me to figure out ways to convince them that it is not the right thing. But then the discussion came up with some more points
- They are also giving her a better place to live, better clothes, better manners, teaching her household work, a little bit of math etc
- She is anyway going to work some place or the other, plus as she gets older it gets more unsafe for her to just work anywhere.
- They got the older girl (previous domestic help) married into a good family, to a man with a stable job. if she was anywhere else, she might have been married off earlier to anyone because her family was always in need of money!

Though, I would have wanted them to also send her to school, but the argument remains that when will she work if she goes to school. I am sure there could be options of a few days a week school, but we were in general losing the argument. She sure is getting a safer home!

What would you do, if faced with a similar situation?


  1. I know a lot of indian people still employ child servants. Its completely and utterly disgusting if you ask me. And some people just make these arguments to feel better about themselves. Employing child servants is also banned and considered illegal in Bangalore. My maid's friend's daughter was studying in 5th std and working as a servant while juggling school and dancing classes. Her primary job was to look after a 5 yr old kid (ironically she was just 4 yrs elder to him). Once her mother realized her employers were willing to pay 5K for the girl to home stay and work, she quit the girls school and was willing to part with her for the money. The law was just active in Bangalore about 1.5 yrs back and was strongly enforced with huge backing of several NGOs. The employers were later reported to police by the security personnel and neighbors of the building. The girl is reported to have started school and dancing lessons full time. This was just one good story I heard amongst the several sad ones where children working in Bangalore road-side restaurants were asked to discontinue. Those who didnt go to orphanages had no place or money and were probably hired secretly somewhere else or worse could be falling to petty crimes. Unfortunately just opposing child labor seems idealistic but not practical.

  2. Yes. it is completely true.. if the children dont work as domestic help, they will land up somehwere else.. in worse conditions and unsafe places.. esp the girls. In this situation too the girl is mostly a nanny for the other younger kids. i think i would feel a bit better, if the family get the girl to go to school, so that she will have more options later in life.

    Obviously, the parents will send the kids to work if they realize they can earn at that young age.