Deepika Arwind

Childline rescues at least four to five children every month

Bangalore: Every month, “Childline,” which can be contacted on 1098, rescues at least four to five children who are made to work and are often abused and harassed.

The children who are freed are sent to homes run by non-governmental organisations who are partners in the Childline project.

One among them, the Association for Promoting Social Action (APSA) runs the “Dream School” that helps them pursue their studies.

One of the children at the school, eleven-year-old Padmavati (name changed), was rescued a few days ago from her sister’s house in Tumkur district. She was made to do domestic work and take care of cattle while her sister managed a small shop nearby.

Padmavati’s hands have white patches from washing clothes and cleaning vessels for long.

Childline and the APSA have been trying to rescue her for the past two years. “I am very happy here. I do not want to go back,” she says. Her file will soon be sent to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and she may be able to find a foster-home. The same is the case with sisters eleven-year-old Sumati and eight-year-old Preeta (names changed) of the school.

They were rescued from Kadiri, a town in Andhra Pradesh. From the age of five, they were forced to do all kinds of work, and were even made to beg. Begging used to bring them between Rs. 100 and Rs. 200 a day.

On days they would not get any money, they used to get abused.

Their father would deliberately bruise their limbs with a knife, and earn people’s sympathy.

They are now studying in 4th standard at the school. They enjoy the regular meals and playtime so much that they do not want to go back home even for a visit.

There are others like Bhavya (name changed) whose family members work in coffee and pepper plantations in Kodagu. If her employers were not happy with her work, they would hold her by the jaw and hit her, and hurl abuses at her. After Bhavya was sent to the employer’s sister’s house at Malleswaram, where she was made to do domestic work.

She was harassed throughout her three-month stay there.

Bhavya is now keen on returning to Kodagu so that she can met her family before she continues her studies. “Children settle down here easily. But we try and look for homes for them,” says APSA Director Sheila Devaraj.

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