Mumbai Local

Maharashtra among top four child labour states, finds NGO survey

The survey found street children were concentrated in south Mumbai—Photo: Prashant Nakwe  

Maharashtra figures among four states with the highest concentration of child workers, according to NGO Pratham, which released its survey of street children in Mumbai on April 30, observed as Anti-Child Labour Day. The other states are Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

As part of the survey, the Pratham Council for Vulnerable Children (PCVC) surveyed 52 traffic signals, 40 railway stations and 41 tourist spots in Mumbai and covered 651 children. It showed a slightly unequal gender distribution, with 53 per cent of those surveyed being boys.

Among the children surveyed, 318 were hawkers, 309 were beggars, 21 were found wandering and three were victims of substance abuse. Also, 581 children were in the educable age group (3-18 years) and 343 among them were out of school. While 247 said they were students, their attendance in schools was questionable since they were found loitering on the street regularly. The city’s Zones A to E is home to the largest population of street children — 133 boys and 114 girls.

“Children from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work in the zari and leather industries in Nagpada, Madanpura, Gowandi and Dharavi. Those from Rajasthan work in shoe-making factories at Thakkar Bappa in Kurla. Low cost is the main reason for the demand for child labour,” said Kishor Bhamre, director, Pratham.

Farida Lambay, co-founder, Pratham, said, “The have-nots are bound to flourish where there are haves and it is understandable that posh South Bombay houses such a large group of vulnerable children.”

Mapping street children is not enough, Mr Bhamre said, adding proper rehabilitation is a must. He said the number of designated rehabilitation facilities for child beggars and hawkers is “minuscule”. “Squeezing every rescued child into such overcrowded places will only ensure relapses with inmates fleeing remand homes.”

In the last decade, 42,000 child labourers have been rescued in Mumbai alone. Child labour is an intricately-planned, well-organised industry, with consistent demand-supply forces keeping it intact. The need, the report suggests, is the formation of special task forces that includes agencies like the railway, traffic and city police and patrol vehicles for rescuing such children.

The report also stresses on the need for education sponsorship schemes, development of an online portal to track missing children, awareness campaigns to remove the stigma associated with juvenile delinquents and beggars, and that victims of abuse should be handled under a governmental project.

ACP (Social Service Branch) Rajdoot Rupawate with the city police said, “We have been doing our bit. The Juvenile Aid Police Unit (JAPU) has been taking strict action against child exploitation. In 2015, 1,039 children were rescued. We have also arrested over 500 parents in the last year for forcing their children to work.”

He added that the child labour problem in Mumbai is not as bad as it was five years back. “Each of the 93 police stations in Mumbai has a Child Welfare Officer. Also, Mumbai has numerous NGOs who keep an eye on street children. These officers, with the help of data collected by these NGOs, are actively rescuing street children in their jurisdiction,” Rupawate said.

The writer is an intern at The Hindu

The Juvenile Aid Police Unit (JAPU) has been taking action against child exploitation

Rajdoot RupawateACP(Social Service Branch)

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 10:46:48 PM |

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