ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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In the Name of the Child

Child labourers are being rescued amidst media fanfare, but precious little is being done to rehabilitate them.

Raids on places where child labourers are employed, often accompanied by immense media coverage, has become a much-used method of rescuing these children in recent years. However, it is the rehabilitation that follows afterwards that proves to be the tougher and less successful part of these operations with a majority of these children either returning to work or being sent to remand homes where the conditions are hardly conducive to their welfare. The Mumbai High Court which converted a letter from a former high court judge on this issue into a public interest litigation recently directed the Maharashtra government to produce a list of the 670 children it claimed to have rescued.

In July this year, the government had told the court that of the 5,575 children it had rescued from all over the state, 4,347 were sent back to their parents. Another 64 children (of whom 14 are in Mumbai) were sent to state rehabilitation homes. The court decided to take Mumbai as a test case and directed the amicus curiae in the case to meet four of the rescued children that the state government said were going to school. The report says that all four were going to school even before the rescue operation and continued to do so. The oldest among them, who was 16, was picked up from a garage where he was learning to repair motorcycles during his vacation while the other three were mistaken as child labourers because their fathers’ tea shops are run from the one-room family homes. All these children spent eight days in an institution while the garage owner and the parents of the other three were taken into custody and released on bail. None of the families received any assistance, financial or otherwise, from any government agency or non-governmental organisation (NGO).

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