India is home to millions of child laborers. Despite efforts by the Indian government and various NGOs tackling this issue, child labor still accounts for nearly 13% of the total workforce in India*. Extreme poverty and a lack of livelihood options make children vulnerable to forced labor. Employers that force children to labor do so because they are cheap and pliable to demands. In these work environments, children are often exposed to risks that have irreversible physical and psychological impact on their development, health and wellbeing.
Recently, JVI was able to provide new life for eight boys being forced to work and live under oppressive conditions.
On September 18th, 2019, a team consisting of JVI, EFICOR staff and police officials conducted a rescue intervention in Motihari, Bihar. The boys were illegally employed at two biscuit factories where they worked for 12-14 hours a day. The victims belonged to scheduled castes/tribes and were trafficked from Ranchi, Jharkhand and other parts of Bihar, India.
The condition of the factories were completely unsafe. The boys, some as young as 9-years old, were given the responsibility of installing sharp blades into the cutting machines with no protective gear. One factory used coal in the baking process. The boys worked with no gloves or masks allowing fine particles to settle on their lungs.
One of the factories
The boys lived in an abusive environment in constant fear of the contractor as he frequently hurled abuses and physically assaulted them. They worked 7 days a week for approximately $5 per day, which was pocketed by the contractor. The boys were forced to sleep on tables inside the factories. They were deprived of proper nutrition. A bun and glass of water was a regular meal. The boys had been working under these conditions for almost seven months when JVI and local partners intervened.
On the day of the rescue, the boys were immediately removed and taken to the local police station where JVI partners assisted officials from the Labour Department to record statements. The Labour Department Superintendent ordered two police complaints to be filed against the contractors.
JVI lawyers are overseeing the prosecution of this case and will ensure the factories are sealed to prevent other children from being illegally employed.
All eight boys were placed in a children’s home where they are receiving access to healthcare, counseling and education.
*Statistics: International Labour Organization (ILO) – https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/—asia/—ro-bangkok/—sro-new_delhi/documents/publication/wcms_557089.pdf
& UNICEF – http://unicef.in/whatwedo/21/child-labour