Saturday, May 31, 2014

PVCHR experience on Child Labour

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. 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 realized 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 1st May, 1996 in presence of pharis Harvey of ILRF, USA & Ms. Abigail Abris of RFK memorial centre for Human Rights through four prolong interventions.

In 2001 with the support from CRY the organization initiated for child rights centric village and focussed on the child protection issues in Harhuwa and Badagaon of Varanasi districts with the most marginalized 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 9 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 the finding organization 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 Mr. Baiju Yadav. Son of Palo Devi who was also helping his parent was shot by brick kiln owner as he saw him in unavoidable condition with different female worker.

In last two and half year (July 2010 – 2012) the organization rescued and released 243 bonded labour from eastern part of Uttar Pradesh. But in this process we experience the apathy of the administration for not registering case under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986 and providing rehabilitation package of 20,000 Rupees 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 owner are main reason hurdle for identification, rescue and rehabilitation, which is coming due to 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 brought the issues of Bonded Labour Mushar to the National Human Rights Commission in open hearing on atrocities against schedule caste (SC) in Varanasi on 25 – 26 November, 2013 for providing them with social service scheme. In the hearing NHRC ordered for especially providing work to the mushars during rainy season under MNREGA to prevent malnutrition, hunger death and bonded labour. During the visit of Mr. 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.

In 2013 organization organized 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, Uttara Khand. 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 & 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.

Child labour is a complex issue linked with Socio- Economic & political situation in anthropological development of specific marginalized communities. Elimination of child labour means breaking the silence of community through accessibility at common resources in Government scheme of children and their parents in context of child rights approach.

Shruti Nagvanshi, Managing Trustee & Shirin Shabana Khan, Program Director at management committee and Program Manager of PVCHR – Dignity initiative “Healing and Empowering marginalized Committee in India