Karuna, a little girl who was brought to one of my colleague’s family as a help maid but was never treated as one. They have one daughter of their own and Karuna was treated as one of their daughters. Whenever we visit their house, Karuna never calls us Babu/ Ma (Sir/Madam), but uncle and aunty as their daughter would do. The family presented Karuna in such a manner that we were compelled to treat her as their own daughter. Today Karuna is life of that family. She cooks amazing food stuffs and takes care of the whole family as an elder daughter. The interesting part is, Karuna never wants to go back to her own house, own village because she had madly fallen in love with the family that adopted her as their own child. As of now, they are looking a good match for her marriage.
Paro, was brought to my granny and aunt’s house as a help maid when she had nobody to look after her and was in utter poverty, without a house or food. My granny and aunt stay alone. When I visited them I saw this girl and quickly reacted by saying, “Why are you keeping a girl child as a maid?” My aunt retaliated by replying, “She was dying without food when I brought her and now she is happy and helping us. I am giving her education.” And when I observed her life in that house where I was brought up as well under my aunt’s supervision I felt contented. There’s a sense of pride I felt for my aunt and granny for their endeavour. She was treated as a daughter as well in that house. Her look changed as the day passed on. Now, she is in fourth standard, going to school and also helping at home. Sometimes Paro, corrects our granny and we all laugh listening to her innocent rebuking.
In both the cases these two children were not deprived of their childhood in anyway though they were not raised in their own houses. In fact, their conditions were improved by the family members with whom they stayed as helpers. They provided their services in the household and were treated as family members as well. They were never denied justice which they deserve as children unlike what child labor in truest sense does to the children.
The term “child labor” is often defined as the ‘work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development.’
So what are the works that can be termed as Child Labor?
- The work that violates a nation’s minimum age laws
- The work that is mentally, physically, socially or morally dangerous and harmful to children. The work that deprive them of the opportunity to attend school.
- The work that involves intolerable abuse, such as child slavery, child trafficking, debt bondage, forced labor, or illicit activities.
Have we ever imagined what can be the stats of ‘Child Labor’ worldwide?
Of an estimated 215 child laborers around the globe: approximately 114 million (53%) are in Asia and the Pacific; 14 million (7%) live in Latin America; and 65 million (30%) live in sub-Saharan Africa.
If we look around we will find there are many children who are victims of this injustice called ‘Child Labor’ in your near vicinity. And the major reason behind this social evil is poverty. The Bible says,
“Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him.”
The parents of these victimized children would have definitely rejoiced when they received these gifts from God. But to maintain their family, they are forced into sending their children to labour or allowing them to work at this tender age.
Apart from poverty the other reasons behind Child Labor are unemployment, inadequacy in law enforcement, limited access to free and compulsory education.
Who’s going to consider these facts and figures to bring a solution? Who’s going to take the responsibilities of eradicating unemployment, illiteracy and inadequacy in law enforcement to ultimately provide justice to the gifts of God, ‘Children’?
NGOs like CRY, Nanhi Kali, Smile Foundation, CINI do an excellent job in standing against this social evil.
How about us?
Look around you, look within your homes… Do you see anywhere injustice happening against children? Intervene, raise your voice against it and exercise the idea of justice for the ones that are unable to claim their rights.