According to UNICEF, India has made great progress in combating child labor, but more than 10 million Indian children are still in some form of slavery. During the epidemic, child labor in India became more serious.
According to a report from the Associated Press, Lucknow, India on December 13, in the central Indian city of Agra, a boy was beaten for complaining about stomach pain. His yelling caught the attention of a passerby who then reported it to the police. At the illegal shoe factory where the boy worked, the police opened the padlock on the gate and found 12 boys aged between 10 and 17.
According to the report, due to school closures and parents’ job losses during the epidemic, thousands of families let their children work for their livelihoods. This ruined India’s progress in reducing child labor for decades and threatened the future of this generation of Indian children.
The report pointed out that in rural India, the nationwide blockade implemented in March of this year plunged millions of people into poverty, spurring some people to sell children from rural to urban areas to fill cheap labor. The epidemic has hindered the implementation of anti-child labor laws, and the intensity of workplace inspections and the tracing of human traffickers has not been as strong as before. From April to September this year, the Indian Save Childhood Movement has rescued at least 1,197 children across India. In the same period last year, 613 people were rescued.
The aforementioned 13-year-old boy who works at the illegal shoe factory in Agra works 12 to 14 hours a day. When the police rescued him and other children in September, he was using glue to glue the rubber soles of his shoes in a small crowded room, with almost no food or water.
It was reported that in some villages in Uttar Pradesh, human traffickers distributed free food to impoverished families during the 68-day lockdown. After winning the trust of the villagers, they offered to find jobs for their children in big cities. Many children went there for a few months but did not return, and were not sent home until they were rescued by the authorities and non-profit organizations. However, some children have not yet been found.
The report also pointed out that in July this year, India’s Ministry of Interior stepped up its efforts to combat child labor and issued guidelines for the urgent establishment of anti-human trafficking departments in each region. However, many states in India still ignore this rule.