Sexual assaults raise concern over child safety in workplace

The sexual assault and murder of an eight-year-old girl on November 11 in a tiles factory on the outskirts of the city has raised concern over the safety of children of people employed at construction sites, fish processing units, tile factories, hotels and other workplaces.

Four men, including three workers of the tiles factory, were arrested in connection with the rape and murder of the girl, eldest of the four children of a couple working in the factory. The incident comes after a two-year-old girl survived a sexual assault at a fish processing unit in Hoige Bazaar here on November 1.

“Both these incidents show the absence of proper arrangements for care for children of workers in these units,” said Police Commissioner N. Shashi Kumar. In the absence of crèche or watch and ward staff, the children are susceptible to sexual assault, kidnapping and other offences, he added.

In the tiles factory, there were 31 labourers, which included 21 from States as far as Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand. The others are locals.

Of 31 labourers, six were women. There were six children of these labourers. They stayed in different sheds on the premises of the tiles factory. The police said that the accused sexually assaulted the girl, murdered her and abandoned the body in the drain.

Similarly, the two-year-old sexual assault survivor was among a group of children of labourers working in the fish processing unit in Hoige Bazaar. These labourers too stayed in sheds near the unit. The survivor was found in a bin filled with salt water, which is used in the unit to process fish. The girl was admitted to the Government Wenlock Hospital. The police arrested Chandan, a native of Bihar, who worked in the unit.

District Child Welfare Committee Chairman Renni D’Souza said that the Factories Act and the new Central Scheme on contract labourers mandate establishing a crèche for workers children.“Apart from providing a secure environment, the crèche will help look after health and educational needs,” he said. However, there is no provision to penalise establishments that do not set up a crèche.

Mr. D’Souza, also a child rights activist, said that he will shortly write a letter asking the district administration to set up crèche for children of labourers hailing from different parts of country. Departments, including Labour, Women and Child Welfare, Education, Social Welfare, should be involved in running this crèche. Civic society should also chip in, he said.

Mr. Shashi Kumar said that the police will be visiting different establishments that employ people from other States and submit a report to the district administration.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2022 9:18:13 AM |

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