Lost Childhood to Poverty


The requirement of cheap labourers continues to flourish the trade of child trafficking. 


Not only the shameful episode of raping two Orissa-based minor girls by a restaurateur in Sarnath but, even the recent drive of labour department to rescue child labourers from hotels and dhabas exposed the trafficking of children at large scale. Apart from housing, recruiters of child labourers in this holy city is still being considered as a major hub of traffickers.


State convener of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), Rajnikant claimed, "Though child trafficking is going on for engaging them in different works, presently their demand is high to utilise them as domestic servants or employing at restaurants, hotels and dhabas." The outcomes of the month-long drive of labour department also support this claim. According to additional labour commission DK Kanchan, his department launched a drive in July last and rescued 80 child labourers from the dhabas, restaurants and hotels.


This drive of the department took place in Varanasi, Chandauli, Jaunpur and Ghazipur districts. Out of 80 children 36 were rescued from the dhabas, restaurants and hotels of Cantonment Railway Station, Dashaswamedh, Sarnath and other localities in Varanasi district. And, out of these 36 children, 25 had been brought here from the districts of Jharkhand and Bihar.


After few weeks of this drive the incident of rape of two minor girls by a restaurateur came to light in Sarnath area. The wife of Pemta Chheling, a Dharmshala (Himanchal Pradesh) native who was employed here at Central Tibetan University and also runs a restaurant near Tibetan temple in Sarnath had visited Navaguti village in Orissa two months back. From there she took two minor girls Rani (12) and her 10-year-old cousin, Soni (changed names) here to employ at her restaurant where her husband raped them. The girls have been sent to women protection home while Chheling is now behind the bars.


The labour department surely claims that the problem of child labourer has been checked in the organised sectors like saree, carpet and other hazardous industries, but the officials considered that the problem still exists in unorganised sectors like dhabas, hotels, brick kilns and others. Apart from these the demand for domestic servants is allowing the trade of child trafficking flourishing. Rajnikant said that except Goa no other state in India has the laws to check this trafficking and the problem could also not be tackled under the Immoral Trafficking Act. He said that unlike past when the requirement of cheap labourer was fulfilled from Nepal, now the children were being taken from the tribal belts of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Orissa. After bringing them here the `contractors are also supplying them to major cities and metros,' he added.


Under the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act the child labourers could be rescued from the work place and rehabilitated, said the ALC. But what could this department do if the same children are sent to other places to work again as labourers? Kanchan admitted that no provision for checking the trafficking of children had been prescribed to them. He said that he would recommend his authorities and government to issue a guideline in this regard as the possibility of employing of child labourers at other place after their rescue from one place could not be denied.


TNN / 25 August 2009