On September 1, 2018, Justice Ventures International (JVI) partnered with Evangelical Fellowship of India Commission on Relief (EFICOR) and the local police to conduct the rescue of thirteen boys from illegal bonded child labor. The victims were rescued from two sites of a residential area in southeast Delhi.
The staff were divided into two teams which targeted the two sites simultaneously. The children, some as young as 10 years old, did zari (traditional embroidery) work in small, poorly lit and congested rooms, which also doubled up as living quarters. The victims would squat on the floor stitching patterns onto clothing material for 12-15 hours a day.
Economically weak families are often easy targets for abuse, attracting traffickers who provide them with illegal and highly exploitative loans. In return, parents (who are manipulated by traffickers promising a better life for their children), send their sons to work at such sites to repay the loan. Once at the site, the victims are forced to stay through threats and ongoing abuse in a strange and unknown city.
The children faced verbal abuse on a constant basis and were often forced to be kept at the site until all of the work was finished. In a few statements provided, the children mentioned they were given two meals a day. A majority of the children also stated that they were not allowed to move freely and required the permission of their employer. No measures were taken by the employer to ensure the children’s safety even though they worked with various sharp objects.
Three rooms were sealed by the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) to avoid further entry, while the rescue team accompanied the children back to the SDM’s office where they were given food and immediate medical attention. The medical examiner prescribed medicine for two of the children, who were forced to work when they were ill. Children working under these conditions, constantly squatting on the floor, are prone to health issues – especially those affecting their eyes and spine.
JVI staff helped members of the Labour Department and Child Welfare Committee in documenting and verifying each child’s details. Our lawyers assisted the police in filing the First Information Report under relevant provisions of the Child Labour Act, Bonded Labour Act and Juvenile Justice Act. After this, the children were taken to a shelter home where they will receive counseling and additional support.
JVI’s legal team is following up with the police and prosecutors to hold the employers and traffickers accountable. Our aftercare team will work with the victims to ensure their sustained freedom and restoration while our partners reach out to the victims’ families to make further inquiries.
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