Fifteen-year-old Marimuthu has managed to escape from a sweatshop in Mumbai and return home, but tragically, he feels he will have no other option but to work elsewhere.
Last November, Marimuthu’s mother sent him to work with a family friend after she borrowed Rs 20,000.
Since then, he has been toiling away in a sweet shop in Mumbai, working from 6 am to 9 pm, says T Kuralmuthan, a member of International Justice Mission, an NGO.
On February 22, he managed to return to Madurai by train. However, it was not a happy homecoming.
He returned with severe burns, and was admitted to the Madurai Government Hospital on Thursday.
“When I complained of a headache, I was made to lie down. But the shop owner saw me and beat me up. He called me names and poured hot oil on my hands and feet. But I worked for a month there and waited until I could escape,” Marimuthu said, recalling events from a month ago.
“I will have to go back to work after being discharged. There is no other option," Marimuthu said, when asked if he wished to go back to school.
His mother died a month ago, and his father was an alcoholic. His two younger brothers go to school and he has to look after them.
"Many adolescent boys from this region are taken to various parts of India to work in sweet shops because sweetmakers from here are famous. The units are all run by owners from this region as well," Kuralamuthan said.
A complaint has been registered with the Madurai Police.