NEW DELHI – In India, young poor girls, often barely 14 years old, are promised good wages to work as house maids in wealthy middle-class household.
NDJ World | Published: Jan 21 2013 Asia→World News
But many times these children, who perform house chores at meager pay to support their families, are abused, misused and subjected to child labor under horrible conditions, becoming yet another ‘lost and none-important’ victim in the world of trafficking child maids.
What’s more, the children can’t complain to their placement agent, an individual who finds jobs for these young kids. If they do, they are often beaten, threatened and even raped by their agent, a person they trust to provide them with opportunities to a better life.
Every year, hundreds of thousands of children, mostly girls, are trafficked from rural India to work as domestic servants in middle-class homes in India’s fast-growing urban areas.
They are expected to work at least 15 hours a day for food, lodging and salaries well below the legal minimum wage of about $US135 per month.
Many end up cut off from their families, abused and treated as slaves. Some are sexually assaulted.
According to Bhuwan Ribhu of the child rights group Bachpan Bachao Andolan, “the trafficking of young children, especially girls, under the garb of placement agencies, is the biggest organized crime in India today”.
“And the worst part is, it is right there in the open, in our homes, and yet invisible,” Ribhu said. “Traffickers often used rape – which can ruin a young woman’s marriage prospects by robbing her of her ‘honor’ – as a tool of control.”
India’s government states that 5 million children are employed in the country but activists say the real number could be 10 times that.
A senior official at India’s Ministry of Home Affairs, which oversees the police, estimated that as many as 4 million children worked in domestic service nationwide and that up to 4000 placement agencies operated in Delhi alone.
The official, who spoke anonymously, said it was often difficult to get his fellow bureaucrats to take the issue seriously because so many of them employed children at home.
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