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“There is no end to child slavery”

12 June 2011

KANPUR: Twelve-year-old Mahesh (name changed) had no idea of what was in store for him when he landed at the Kanpur Central railway station from a small town in Jharkhand. He was with his `mama’ (uncle). The latter took him to a roadside `dhaba’ where the owner promised him a good salary and perks for some hours of work. However, all that the child got was round-the-clock slavery and sound thrashings.

Mahesh’s story, who is now a part of the Child Helpline, repeats itself in restaurants, industrial units, motor garage, hotels and other big and small units. A story that speaks of the cruelty minors are put through despite legislations against child labour.

In October 2006, a nation-wide ban on children below 14 working as domestic help came into force under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986. Years later, nothing seems to have changed. A rampant survey by TOI shows that despite the ban, many underage children are still facing exploitation at tea stalls, car workshops, canteens or dhabas all over the Industrial City.

A survey by Child Helpline (1098) also estimates that more than 30,000 children are working as labourers and domestic helpers in the city. Statistics show that an organisation, that was part of the Child Helpline, rescued and rehabilitated 425 children in the past three years. The children, mostly in the age group of 10-14, were rescued from restaurants, shops and homes. Many were also rehabilitated, especially those who were brought from smaller towns of eastern UP and Bihar.

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