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India’s Child Slavery Heartache

5 September 2012

By Jason Motz

In a victory for the anti-child labour movement, the state government of India raised the age bar on child labour from 14 to 18 years. The exploitation of children for labour has long been a thorny political issue in India. This revamped law indicates a growing awareness by the state government to better protect children from child trafficking rings.

In a statement, the government announced the implementation of a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) “for identification, rescue, protection and rehabilitation for children employed in different occupations.”

The notification goes on to state that, “Child labour is a barrier in realizing the state government’s intention of imparting free and compulsory education.”

Although India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Children 1990 (UNCRC), the country’s record of protecting children needs improvement. According to Childline only 5% of India’s budget is earmarked for children, encompassing health, education and child protection. This new law is a sign that the government is taking greater measures to protect the innocent.

Earlier this month, Britain’s The Observer published a revealing exposé of India’s child slavery industry. According to the piece, 200,000 children are lured into slavery annually in India. The children of poor families are sold for Rs 1,000 with unscrupulous middlemen pocketing a large commission. Most of the children are then sent to work in fields throughout the country. As The Hindu Times reported in July, regular raids in places such as Bihar continue to underscore the tragic realities of modern day slavery.

Paper Kite is an organization committed to providing the children of Bihar, India with a better future. While the tangible goals include bettering the general health and education of the affected children, the issue of child slavery is one we feel very strongly about. As these recent developments illustrate, the issue of child labour in India is far from being dealt with. We hope that by sharing these and other developments as they occur, more people will join Paper Kite in speaking out against child labour in India.

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