An Interview With A Child Labourer

Even as the country rushes head on to keep its date with United Nation’s Millennial Development Goal (MDG) of universal primary education, there is a tendency to conveniently overlook some of the more complex issues at stake. While the Right To Education (RTE) Act of 2009, even with its criticisms and shortcomings has been largely regarded as a positive step towards meeting the goal, it fails to take into account many of the serious impediments faced by children from poor and marginalized communities to completing their education.  In today’s video Community Correspondent Shambhulal Khatik from Delwada, Rajasthan turn his camera on the troubling issue of child labor.

Some reports have pegged the number of underage laborers in the country at around 60 million. There are some disturbing statistics in these reports:-

  • Two out of every three working children are physically abused.
  • Over 50 percent children were being subjected to one or the other form of physical abuse.
  • 50.2 percent children worked seven days a week.
  • 53.22 percent children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.
  • 21.90 percent child respondents reported facing severe forms of sexual abuse and 50.76 percent other forms of sexual abuse.
  • Every second child reported facing emotional abuse.

But inspite of being subjected to the inhuman violation, millions of children younger than 14 drop out of schools each year to earn their living. Most come from backgrounds of dire poverty. There is an expectation even a will that they must contribute to the family income. Very few manage to balance both work and education. For the majority, education takes the backseat.

Kaluram, the child interviewed in today’s video works in a tea shop in Shambhu’s neighborhood. “It was very conflicting to interview him,” says Shambhu. “You might cite laws and policies and programs but when you here the child’s story you realize that there are many questions lying unanswered. Does Kaluram really have an option other than dropping out of school and working?”

“I want the viewers to watch the video and tell me what they think the child’s options are. What must the government do? What must we do? The Development goals are well and good but we must not rush blindly towards them with blinkers on.”

Related Links:-

India Tribune: Over 60 Million Child Laborers in India

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