Sunday, June 26, 2016


The latest figure available with the Human Rights Commission shows over 14 million children living under slavery. “If one does an honest counting, this number would surely jump to twice that — perhaps closer to 30 million,” said National Convener of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), Lenin Raghuvanshi. “Men, women and children are forced to work as bonded labourers in brick kilns and bangle industry. Unfortunately, women and children are never accounted for,” he added.
Raghuvanshi believes bonded labour is a contemporary form of slavery. “If it is still existing, it is a clear reflection of the failure of welfare state. The Government, which is supposed to provide them basic necessities, has failed them. As they are poor, they move out to eke out a living in cities and end up as bonded labourers in brick kilns and factories,” he added.
Majority of these bonded labourers are migrants workers who shift from impoverished regions like Bundelkhand, Bihar and Jharkhand in search of work, and since they are unskilled workers, they end up in brick kilns or bangle factories of Firozabad. In brick kilns, the entire family works as a team. “These migrant workers are allotted a piece of land by the owner where the workers have to dig the earth and then wet it with water to make the mud suitable for the moulding process. Generally for moulding, the whole family is engaged, including young children,” said Convener, Voice of People, Shruti Nagvanshi.
The labourers are paid Rs200 for making 1,000 bricks, which are then sold in the market for Rs7,000! These labourers are recruited by agents, who ask them to take their family along. “It is an attractive prospect where one is allowed to take his family with him. The labourer is promised accommodation, is often paid an advance — which is a veiled term for debt. Once he accepts the advance, he falls into the trap,” she explained.
The workers are not allowed to leave the brick kiln premises, and the living conditions are barely basic. Labourers live in shanties with bricks piled one upon another as walls and straw covering the top, which do not afford any protection from the sun and rains. These rooms are small, measuring 4 feet x 5 feet. In such tiny rooms, labourers and their families have to manage their kitchen and keep their household goods.
Studies carried out by different agencies also point to alleged sexual exploitation of women in brick kilns. Radha (name changed) was lured from her village in Jharkhand on the pretext of a job by another women and sold as a bonded labourer in a brick kiln at Jaunpur. She told human rights activists that she was raped daily by the brick kiln owner and was beaten up when she protested.
Young children are the worst sufferers though. They do not go to schools and instead help their parents arrange bricks for drying, and collect the broken and improperly moulded bricks. Once they get older, they are drawn into this trade having being trained from young age.
Kamla, mother of five, revealed how her two youngest children, Medhu (5) and Rani (3), used to cry for food. With barely Rs200 she made for making 1,000 bricks, she didn’t have enough to feed her family, and her daughter died of malnutrition before she could turn four.
Workers employed in brick kilns mostly belong to the Schedule Caste (SC), Schedule Tribe (ST) and minorities, which are usually non-literate and non-numerate. They do not easily understand the arithmetic of loan/debt/advance, and documentary evidence remains with the creditor and its contents are never made known to them.
Full article as follows:
#endslavery #bondedlabour #slavery #u4humanrights #humanrights

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

‘Women Activism and Politics in Sweden and India’

Shruti Nagvanshi and I are going to participate in Conference on ‘Women Activism and Politics in Sweden and India’ to be held on 20th  & 21s June, 2016 at Karlstad University, Sweden. Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Karlstad University, in collaboration with the Malaviya Centre for Peace Research, Banaras Hindu University, as a part of a series of conferences to be held in Sweden and India.

Shruti is going to present paper titled Reality of grass root on women rights in Northern India and I am going to present paper Masculinity and India on 21 September 2016.

Please find details as follows:

#u4humanrights #sweden #women #womenrights #india 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

But there is mysterious silence by civil society ?

Above from Report submitted by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya Addendum Summary of cases transmitted to Governments and replies received

Urgent appeal 1211.

On 23 May 2008, the Special Rapporteur sent an urgent appeal to the Government concerning Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi, Convener of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Varanasi, State of Uttar Pradesh. Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi has focused his work on the right to food and on victims of death due to starvation and he is also a member of the District Vigilance Committee on Bonded Labour.

1212. Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi was previously the subject of a letter of allegation sent by the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders on 14 February 2008, as well as of a joint urgent appeal sent by the former Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia and related intolerance and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, on 16 August 2005, and of a joint urgent appeal sent by the former Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on the right to food on 13 December 2007. The Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders regrets that no reply to date to any of the three communications has been received and as such, would greatly appreciate a response from Your Excellency’s Government as soon as possible.

1213. According to information received, on 26 April 2008, Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi began to receive abusive and threatening phone calls, which warned him to end the PVCHR’s work in the district of Varanasi. On 18 May, he received a phone call, thought to be from a powerful member of a criminal group in Uttar Pradesh, which threatened that if the PVCHR did not stop working for the Musahar community, a Dalit group subject to caste-based discrimination, men hired by upper caste feudal lords would raze Musahar ghettos and villages in Varanasi. The caller also questioned Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi about the funding of the PVCHR, in what is believed to be a warning to the PVCHR to pay protection money to local mafias.

1214. Concern was expressed that the threats and intimidation directed against Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi may be directly linked to his work and that of the PVCHR in defense of human rights, in particular the rights of Dalit communities in the State of Uttar Pradesh.  In view of these threats, serious concern was expressed for the physical and psychological integrity of Mr Lenin Raghuvanshi and the members of the PVCHR. 

Response from the Government 1215.
In a letter dated 28 January 2009, the Government responded to the urgent appeal of 23 May 2008. The allegations contained in the communication were examined by the Government, which informed that a complaint was lodged in Thana Cant, Varanasi, following which a chargesheet was sent to the court on 21 July 2008 against accused Bulbul Singh alias Uday Narayan Singh. In the meantime, necessary instructions were issued to the local police station to provide adequate security to Dr Lenin.

Links for details:

55million children labout but sleep hungry in India

Despite legislations and protests by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailsh Satyarthi, activists like Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi and NGOs like PVCHR, over 55 million children in India are doomed. They are made to work in inhuman conditions. They do a variety of things: silversmith work, tea farming, stone quarrying, cigarette making, fireworks, fishing, embroidery, and much more. An untold number is also forced to serve as domestics, shop boys, prostitutes, and involved in child trafficking. Many even end up mutilated and forced to beg. Here’s an indepth report by Shruti, as part of Different Truths special feature on World Day Against Child Labour (WDACL).
#WorldDayAgainstChildLabour2016  #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour  #WDACL #ILO
The carpet belt of Mirzapur-Bhadohi, Varanasi in eastern UP was the Karmabhoomi (work place) of Kailsh Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize winner, in the early part of his crusade against child labour and trafficking. Satyarthi worked tirelessly in the carpet belt of Bhadohi and Mirzapur, notorious for exploiting child workers. It was his initiative to start the Rugmark, a label given to carpet makers for guaranteeing that the product is child labour free.
“On December 10, 1996, he led a Shoshanmedh Yajna (Slay-exploitation Yajna) at Dashashwamedh Ghat after rescuing children from Jansa area,” said Lenin. “I sat on 71-hour-dharna at the district headquarters in December 1997 for rescue and rehabilitation of child labourers. It was Satyarthi, who ended my fast.”
The only feasible path to solve the problem of child labour is to guarantee children a better level of education.
More than 55 million children are working in India, mostly “from Dalit, tribal and other backward castes in India” and “all out of school,” which is “cause for great concern.”
In spite of its booming economy, “India is still very much a patriarchal and caste-based society with gender discrimination. The destructive effects of gender discrimination, patriarchal oppression and the semi-feudal society so prevalent in 21st century India are manifest in our 55 million children, employed at times in subhuman conditions.”
Many of these children are under the age of five and put their lives at risk for a miserly salary. Similarly, “a large fraction of these child labourers are working as slaves, bonded to their “jobs”, with no means of escape or freedom, often stuck in their “job” until they repay their parents’ loans.
These children do a variety of things: silversmith work, tea farming, stone quarrying, cigarette making, fireworks, fishing, embroidery, and much more. An untold number is also forced to serve as domestics, shop boys, prostitutes, and involved in child trafficking. Many even end up mutilated and forced to beg.
Child labour is closely related to poverty and the lack of a proper education, especially when parents cannot first maintain their children. The situation is more complicated for girls, who live in a shadowy world, taking care of their younger siblings and helping their mother in household chores, rather than going to school.
“Scheduled Castes and Tribes Act should be improved to prevent atrocities and discrimination against backward classes and provide more resources.” But what is needed above all is “a cultural change that eliminates the tragedy of child labour at its roots”.
In 2004, the PVCHR “adopted” three villages and a suburb in a trial project called “Jan Mitra Gaon” (people-friendly village) that included the reopening of primary schools, the end of forced labour, making education for girls compulsory and the adoption of non-traditional education practices.
In vast areas of the Indian countryside primary education is non-existent, but the PVCHR was able to open educational facilities for children in 200 villages.
Child labour continues to be a significant phenomenon in India. According to the NSS (National Sample Survey) 66th round (2009-10), there are 49.84 lakh child labourers across the country, and 23.3 per cent of 15 to 18-year- olds are engaged in some income-earning activity. Uttar Pradesh tops the list as the state with highest number of child labour cases in the age group of 10-14 years and third in terms of worst record between 10-18 years 1 .
Child labour is a concrete manifestation of violations of a range of rights of children and is recognized as a serious and enormously complex social problem in India. Working children are denied their right to survival and development, education, leisure and play, and adequate standard of living, opportunity for developing personality, talents, mental and physical abilities, and protection from abuse and neglect.
To curb the child labour Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi was the founding member of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) and rescued thousands of child labour from carpet, domestic child labour, sports, sarees, leathers, brick kiln, agriculture, glass industry and trafficking. During the rescue Dr. Lenin realised for that due to the pathetic economic condition again the children sent for it. So, to prevent child labour Dr. Lenin founded PVCHR and created Indrawar as child labour free village on May 1, 1996, in presence of Pharis Harvey of ILRF, USA & Abigail Abris of RFK memorial centre for Human Rights through four prolong interventions.
 In 2001, with the support from CRY the organisation initiated for child rights centric village and focussed on the child protection issues in Harhuwa and Badagaon of Varanasi districts with the most marginalised communities as during rescue all labour belongs to Dalits, OBCs and minorities.  Most of the target communities were working in brick kiln because it was income generating to them. The children spent nine months along with their parents in the brick kiln industry. Children in and around the brick kiln areas are drawn into labour as they tend to help their parents by arranging the bricks for drying and collecting the broken and improperly moulded bricks.  Due to the tenancy system the women and children are not counted as worker. It is trend by the employers to show men as employees and it provides opportunity to escape from ensuring the service to women and children. Once they get older, they are drawn into the trade, having being trained at a young age. This age group is the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. The National Policy of Children, 2013, declares that all children from 0 to 18 years need to be protected and provided with all the facilities of health, education, nutrition and protection.
In its findings, the organisation found many female children are subjected to physical and sexual abused. Radha (name changed) 15 years was sold to the brick kiln owner  by her relative  in Jaunpur for two months she was sexually abused by the brick kiln owner. Baiju Yadav, son of Palo Devi, who was also helping his parent was shot by brick kiln owner as he saw him in compromising positions with different female worker.
In two and half year (July 2010 – 2012), the organisation rescued and released 243 bonded labour from eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. But in this process, we experienced the apathy of the administration for not registering case under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, and providing rehabilitation package of Rs. 20,000 and not benefiting children with any social service scheme.  After rescue and identification child are not handed over to parents but were sent to Child Welfare Committee. The influence and muscle power of owners are the main hurdles for identification, rescue and rehabilitation. This is due to the evils of the caste system of India.
In last 13 years, slowly and gradually PVCHR expanded it working areas such as seven districts of Uttar Pradesh with intensive engagement in 200 villages with focus on child rights centric village and torture free model villages. After intensive engagement and awareness building now the parents working in the brick kiln are sending their children to school.  In Sakara village many girls enrolled in residential school and providing tuition to the weak children to maintain retention in the school.
PVCHR tabled the issues of bonded labour Mushar to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in open hearing on atrocities against schedule caste (SC), in Varanasi, on November 25 and 26, 2013, for providing them with social service scheme. In the hearing, NHRC ordered for providing work to the Mushars during rainy season under MNREGA to prevent malnutrition, hunger death and bonded labour. During the visit of Anil Parashar to Varanasi and Chunar he issued notice to District Magistrate Varanasi and Mirzapur to provide all detailed information related to brick kiln including the total number of labourers male, female and children with their residential addresses and age 2 .
In 2013, the organisation organised public hearing on bonded labour and child labour  including the three commissions National Human Rights Commission, National Women Commission and National Commission for Protection Child Rights and ex-Director General of Police, Uttarakhand. In the hearing the cases of child labour from western part of Uttar Pradesh were presented that children are involved in hazardous industry such as in lock industry, meat industry, agriculture and recycling of the old mobile.
To eliminate child labour PVCHR provided psycho-social and legal support to survivors, meta legal intervention, legal intervention, medical support, protection and solidarity, rehabilitation of community, peoples’ advocacy, public hearing, awareness and child participation so, they are healed and transformed as human rights defenders; they are fearless and now ready to face and confront their perpetrators; they are now in a better position to reclaim and attain their rights.
It was specifically used for the comprehensive advocacy as on the whole as a very non–expensive approach. The cases of bonded labour across India were monitored in daily newspapers and immediately complaint was sent through email to the various concerned authorities.
The Musahar ghetto of Sarai village is bonded labour free village. This was possible with the tireless process and community aspiration for change the community people decided not  work as bonded labour in any establishment and now working under MNREGA Scheme. They understood the importance of education and now they enrolled their children in near government primary school 3 .
Child labour is a complex issue linked with socio-economic and political situation in anthropological development of specific marginalised communities. Elimination of child labour means breaking the silence of community through accessibility at common resources in government schemes of children and their parents in context of child rights approach.

© Shruti Nagvanshi
Pix sourced from Shirin Shabana Khan and Net.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

इंडो-जर्मन सोसाइटी की 50वीं वर्षगांठ पर तीन भारतीय हस्तियां सम्मानित

सनद रहे कि जर्मन संसद की उपाध्यक्ष  ग्रीन पार्टी की सुप्रसिद्ध राजनेता सुश्री क्लाउडिया रोथ ने मानवाधिकार जननिगरानी समिति (PVCHR) को फरवरी 2015 में नई दिल्ली में आयोजित रात्रि भोज में जर्मन संसद का स्मृति चिन्ह देकर समिति के कार्यो को सम्मनित किया था।

रेमसाईड। मानवाधिकार जननिगरानी समिति के कार्यालय पर बैठक कर रेमसाइड शहर में मिलने वाले सम्मान के लिए और डॉ. लेनिन रघुवंशी को बधाई दी गई। इंडो-जर्मन सोसाईटी के 50वीं वर्षगाठ के अवसर पर जर्मनी के रेम्साईड शहर में भारत की तीन हस्तियों सुश्री रूबी राय, पंडित विकास महाराज और डॉ. लेनिन रघुवंशी को सम्मानित किया गया।  
जर्मनी में ही निवास करती है और वहाँ पर भारतीय व्यंजनों को स्थापित करने का उत्कृष्ट कार्य किया है। वाराणसी के रहने वाले  पंडित विकास महाराज भारत के सुविख्यात सरोद वादक के रूप में जाने जाते हैं और उन्हें 'यश भारती'  सम्मान से भी नवाजा जा चुका है।
वाराणसी के ही रहने वाले देश-दुनिया में मानवाधिकार कार्यकर्ता के रूप में विख्यात डॉ. लेनिन रघुवंशी को आजीवन मानद सदस्यता के रूप में यह सम्मान दिया गया। यह सम्मान इंडो-जर्मन सोसाईटी, रेमसाईड, जर्मनी व रेमसाईड के सिटी काउन्सिल ने मिलकर दिया है। 
उल्लेखनीय है कि पंडित विकास महाराज अपने परिवार के साथ उस समय में उपस्थित थे और डॉ. लेनिन को उनकी अनुपस्थिति में यह सम्मान दिया गया। इस अवसर पर इंडो-जर्मन सोसाइटी, रेमसाईड व मानवाधिकार जननिगरानी समिति द्वारा संयुक्त रूप से वाराणसी के बघवानाला व सोनभद्र के रौप गाँव में किए गए कार्य की वीडियो व लेनिन रघुवंशी का वीडियो संदेश दिखाया गया। यह वीडियो जर्मनी के मारियोज व भारत के रोहित कुमार ने संयुक्त रूप में निर्मित किया था।  
इंडो-जर्मन सोसाइटी जर्मनी में भारत की संस्कृति व विभिन्न मुद्दों पर कार्य करने वाली सबसे बड़ी संस्था है पूरे जर्मनी में इसकी 53 स्वतंत्र इकाइयां है जिसमे 3500 से ज्यादा सदस्य है। 
रेमसाईड के इस कार्यक्रम में इंडो-जर्मन सोसाइटी के अध्यक्ष व भारत में जर्मनी के पूर्व राजदूत Dr. Hans-Georg Wieck, भारतीय दूतावास फ्रैंकफर्ट की प्रतिनिधि मिस सोनी दहिया, रेक्सईड शहर के मेयर Burkhard Mast-Weisz, इंडो-जर्मन सोसाइटी की अध्यक्षा सुश्री हेलमा रिचा आदि जर्मनी के प्रांतीय सरकार के प्रतिनिधि, शहर के प्रतिष्ठित व्यक्ति और प्रतिष्ठित बैंको के प्रतिनिधि उपस्थित थे।
सनद रहे कि जर्मन संसद की उपाध्यक्ष व ग्रीन पार्टी की सुप्रसिद्ध राजनेता सुश्री क्लाउडिया रोथ ने मानवाधिकार जननिगरानी समिति (PVCHR) को फरवरी 2015 में नई दिल्ली में आयोजित रात्रि भोज में जर्मन संसद का स्मृति चिन्ह देकर समिति के कार्यो को सम्मनित किया था। आज इस बैठक में मानवाधिकार जननिगरानी समिति के समस्त कार्यकर्ता उपस्थित थे।

Friday, June 3, 2016

Honour of Rubi ray, Pandit Vikash Maharaj and Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi at city hall of Remschied,Germany

Three surprise honour to Ms. Ruby Ray,Pandit Vikash Maharaj and Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi at city hall of Remschied,Germany on occasion of 50th anniversary of Indo-German Society,affiliate Remschied.

Life time honorary membership of Indo-German Society,affiliate Remschied to Lenin Raghuvanshi as honour of his tireless and continuous work for promotion of pluralism and diversity .

Congratulation to all from PVCHR.

News in German as follows:
Deutsch-Indische Gesellschaft
Drei überraschende Ehrungen bei Festakt
rei überraschende Ehrungen und ein Konzert krönten am Freitagabend den Empfang im Rathaus anlässlich des 50-jährigen Bestehens der Zweiggesellschaft Remscheid der Deutsch-Indischen Gesellschaft (DIG).
Die gebürtige Inderin Ruby Ray kann nicht nur famos kochen, sondern auch singen, wie sie eingangs des Festaktes mit einem Lied-Gebet unter Beweis stellte. Ray hatte vor zehn Jahren ein indisches Kochbuch herausgegeben und veranstaltet immer wieder Kochkurse.
Die zweite Ehrenurkunde gab es für den Pandit (Meister) Vikash Maharaj, den Sarod-Maestro. Sarod ist das persische Wort für Musik, aus dem sich im Indischen die Bezeichnung für das gleichnamige Saiteninstrument ableitet. Das ist ein mit Ziegenfell bespannter Mahagoni-Korpus unter 25 bundlosen Metallsaiten.
Vikash Maharaj ist zurzeit mit seinen Söhnen Abishek und Prabhash in der Stadt; als Maharaj-Trio geben sie am morgigen Sonntag (19 Uhr) mit dem Remscheider Gitarristen Uli Spormann in der Pfarrkirche St. Suitbertus ein Konzert. Eine Kostprobe gab es am Freitagabend im Ratssaal.
Die dritte Urkunde gab es in Abwesenheit für Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, den Gründer der Gesellschaft in Varanasi, die die DIG in Remscheid besonders fördert. Dr. Lenin war schon einmal in Remscheid und empfing im Februar eine Delegation mit Helma Ritscher und jungen Remscheidern, die sich seit ihren Tagen auf dem Röntgen-Gymnasium engagieren – und für Ritscher quasi Garanten für den Fortbestand der Gesellschaft sind
Read link for details:

Please read news about Lenins' Visit in may 2015 to Remschied:

#u4humanrights #pvchr #remschied #germany #india #pluralism #diversity #dignity

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Slavery persists for millions in India, despite improvements

LUCKNOW, India — Every day as Kamla dug through the mud and molded bricks for north Indian kiln, her two hungry children would cry out to her for food. The 200 rupees ($3) she made for producing 1,000 bricks at a time wasn’t nearly enough to feed her family, and her daughter died of malnutrition before she turned 4.
Kamla’s story, told to one of the many charities fighting forced labor in India, is common enough to explain how slavery persists in the country despite rapid development that has helped make India the world’s fastest-growing economy.
On Tuesday, the South Asian democracy topped a global slavery index counting some 18.35 million modern slaves — or 40 percent of a global total of 45.8 million. The report, released by The Walk Free Foundation, included children and adults forced into labor, often unpaid or to pay off a debt, as well as child brides, child soldiers and migrant workers in 167 countries.
“These poor and deprived people are forced to leave their homes because of poverty. This is clear reflection of the failure of the welfare state,” said Lenin Rghuvanshi of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, the charity which put together a December report based on testimony from 450 people rescued from slavery and bonded labor in India last year, including Kamla.
“Bonded labor is a contemporary type of slavery,” he said. “The government, which is supposed to provide them basic necessities, has failed them.”
Officials with the Indian Labor Ministry declined to comment on the slavery index report, which showed China a distant second with some 3.39 million modern slaves counted. China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment. North Korea was found to have the highest per capita rate of modern slavery, with 4.37 percent of its population affected.
The problem of slavery in India — including child marriage and bonded labor — has long been a challenge and cause for shame. Just last week, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee lambasted India’s record on human rights, asking how India could have so many slaves. “I mean, seriously, do they have just zero prosecution abilities, zero law enforcement? I mean, how could this happen? It’s on that scale, it’s pretty incredible,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said.
Many had seen the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, who was awarded along with Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, as a sign that India would be forced to better protect its 1.25 billion citizens from abuse.
But child labor, the trafficking of sex workers, and bonded labor remains widespread, despite India’s rapid economic growth over the past decade. Laws meant to keep children in school and out of the workplace are routinely flouted, as millions are forced into difficult and sometimes toxic jobs including rolling cigarettes, blowing glass in factories, mining in stone quarries or dyeing leather in tanneries.
Some activists blamed the government for maintaining a top-down economy where illegal labor can still flourish because of high unemployment and abject poverty in the countryside. While the official jobless rate has hovered around 10 percent since 1983, some economists say that counting only the number of people actively looking for work ignores the masses who have only part-time jobs or who have simply given up.
“The laws are there, but there is no political will on the part of the government to implement them,” peace activist Swami Agnivesh said. “The government can’t afford to annoy rural rich as well as the urban rich who are exploiting the situation.”
Amid the rising criticism, the Indian government on Monday published draft legislation to curb human trafficking without punishing its victims. “At present the law says the trafficked and the trafficker are both criminals and they both go to jail. Now, we are saying the victim will not go to jail,” said Maneka Gandhi, the government’s minister for women and child development, according to Press Trust of India.
Still, some activists said the situation was improving in India, thanks to public awareness, legal reforms and police-backed raids on factories employing workers illegally.
“We get 20 complaints per day from family members and public in general” reporting labor abuse — a sign that awareness of the problem was growing, said Ramesh Senger from Satyarthi’s Save the Childhood Movement.
He noted that India’s carpet industry used to employ 300,000 trafficked children just a decade ago, but that the number has come down to an estimated 5,000-10,000. Meanwhile, the number of children forced to work making plastic bangles in parts of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh is now negligible, whereas thousands worked in the industry 10 years ago.
India’s garment industry hub in the Indian capital has also eliminated child labor, Sanger noted as an example of how police-backed raids can make a difference.
“We rescued nearly 400 children in the area between 2012-2014,” he said. “The garments industry in the area no longer employs child labor.”
But for those still mired in forced labor, the scourge can’t be ended soon enough. And with little recourse against abusive employers, they can only hope to be rescued by a charity intervening.
Radha, kidnapped from her family by a woman from her village and forced into bonded labor at a brick kiln near Varanasi, told the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights she was raped daily by the factory’s owner when she was not cooking and cleaning for him, and then was beaten when she tried to object.
“I was so scared,” she said. “I’m still in pain from the rapes.”
Sharma reported from New Delhi.
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