Childhood is a special time. Whilst many children have to face unavoidable trauma in some form or another none should have to face torture, cruelty, extreme poverty and the like. In India many children face being abducted forcibly from their families to work in unbearable conditions.
We in the West love a bargain but all too often we do not consider the implication of a bargain that is too good to be true. The rule of thumb is that if something is too good to be true then it is not what it appears to be. In some case though it is because a child or adult is living the life of a virtual slave to make cheap goods.
Human Rights groups have made some in roads into improving the plight of these children and reuniting them with their loved ones but not enough is being done. Whilst many children are literally kidnapped some parents in effect sell their children into work on the promise of cash sums. Before we judge it is worth remembering that most of us will never experience the true and deep poverty that some Indians in remote villages do. Many will not know just how bad life will become for their kids once sold into this slavery.
Promised cash to parents or children is rarely forthcoming but instead it is a lifetime of separation and abuse. At the head of the production are wealthy business people making a good living on the back of these kids.
India does not have the Health and Safety laws that most western countries enjoy and so daily these small slaves have their lives put at risk. Most of the work is in the clothing or building industry. If the kids do not produce what is expected of them they can look forward to a beating.
The Indian authorities are well aware of what is happening and many officials see it on a daily basis. Token raids may close down some establishments but it is a drop in the Ocean. Millions of children are thought to be seeking out this terrible way of life. With a caste system which should be dead and buried by now the more wealthy people of India find it acceptable that a poor child should be working as a slave. This of course perpetuates the class division as poor children are uneducated, unloved and deemed worthless except as a labourer.
The people of the world had high hopes for the 21st Century but it seems in many parts of the world it is18th Century living as normal.
Child slaves who are lucky enough to be rescued take a long time to adjust to life again and to trust people. Centres called Ashrams try to rehabilitate the rescued kids. SkyNews reported, "Sakib, who is just eight, was rescued from a cosmetics factory. He was forced to work in dingy conditions and was often hit by the factory manager. Unsurprisingly, he has nightmares about his experiences. "These people have destroyed me. They beat me, make me work throughout and tell me lies that I will get paid." Sakib will hopefully soon be reunited with his family. Many other children in India are not so lucky."
What you can do is make sure that you are careful which goods you buy. Remember though many big names outsource to countries around the world who abuse child labour. We who are lucky enough to have some legal protection regarding labour should never surrender these rights.
Around the World millions of children suffer a similar fate. Help UNICEF support and free this children if you can.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog