It’s Time for India to Tackle Poverty and Child Slavery
India may have set its sights on Mars and is aspiring to become a key global player, but its ambitions are in stark contrast to some of the realities it faces. One of the most shocking truths has come to light with the Global Survey Index mentioning the country as being home to half of the world’s modern slaves. This slavery ranges from severe forms of intergenerational bonded labour to forced and servile marriage, the worst forms of child labour and commercial and sexual exploitation.
In 2012, the Indian government banned all types of labour for children under the age of 14, making hiring a child a punishable offence. The ban followed the implementation in 2010 of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, popularly known as the RTE, which states that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 have the right to free schooling. Yet two years on from the child-labour ban, despite much talk, there has been little visible result on the ground. There are two main reasons behind the failure.
India has a problem with slavery, a very serious problem that rarely seems to merit discussion. The Global Slavery Index estimates that India is home to half of the world’s modern slaves. More than 100,000 young people are believed to be working in conditions of domestic slavery in Delhi alone. They are tricked into leaving their homes with promises of a better life in the capital, only to be sold to placement agencies who sell them on again to families. The stories they tell are of unimaginable abuse: rape, beatings, imprisonment and a life of penury.
Part of India’s problem is the rise of its middle class, who demand servants to ease their busy lives.
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