Despite strict laws, child labour continues to claim victims in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

The two states together employ 14.7 per cent of the child labourers in the country.
Despite strict laws, child labour continues to claim victims in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
Despite strict laws, child labour continues to claim victims in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
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Mahendar, an 11-year-old who worked in a bangle-making factory in Bhavani Nagar, Hyderabad, died due to ill health.

Even after putting in place strict laws to protect children from child labour, 300 children were rescued in Hyderabad by an NGO called M Venkatarangaiya Foundation this year. A report by Child Rights and You (CRY) published in 2015 states that Andhra Pradesh and Telangana together employ 14.7 per cent of around 10 million child labourers in the country.

MV Foundation is an NGO based in Hyderabad working for the protection of child rights. Arvind, the NGO spokesperson, says, “During the year 2016 we have enrolled 904 children comprising never enrolled, dropouts and child labourers in schools, social welfare hostels and KGBVs in Hyderabad.”

KGBVs or Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya Schools, were introduced by the Government of India and then integrated in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program, to provide educational facilities for girls belonging to marginalized and underprivileged communities.

Earlier this year, 105 children rescued from bangle-making and belt-making units in Hyderabad, were sent back to their hometowns in Bihar. Often the children fall ill as these factories are hazardous industries where they are exposed to chemicals.

“Apart from the health problems faced by the children, they are often beaten up by their employers. Many children suffer complications due to work in factories and construction sites. They develop skin rashes, allergies, asthma, bruises on the body, fever, bronchitis and so on,” says Arvind. He estimates that there are around 40000 child labourers in the domestic sector alone.

Achyuta Rao, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, says that the Commission has rescued 3000 child labourers in 2016 under Operation Muskaan and Operation Smile. He also says, “Most of them are migrant labourers from Bihar, Odisa, Kolkata and Chennai. After we rescue them, we give them proper care and counselling and then contact their parents and send them back to their hometown.”

Achyuta Rao adds, “Last month, we rescued a girl child from Domalguda. Her father had taken a loan from a small financier and when he failed to repay the money, the person took her and made her do all the household work. They even used to beat her up.”

There are many victims of child labour and the problem is not limited to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. According to this study, the Census of India in 2011 estimated that 4.3 million children were engaged in child labour. Further, the study states that government statistics indicate that over 126,000 cases of trafficking for child labour were registered during 2011-12. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, an additional hundred thousand children go missing in India every year, many of whom are said to be trafficked for child labour.

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