by Jim Yardley, NYT 4/4/12
A 13-year-old maid was left locked in a house when her employers went on vacation. The couple, both doctors, were arrested when they returned, and preliminary charges of violations of the Juvenile Justice Act, the Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act and other violations of the criminal code were filed against them. The story casts light on child labor, but it probably won’t be a catalyst for change; the article quotes a lawyer who points out that courts rarely issue harsh judgments in these kinds of cases.
Some statistics from the article:
The International Labor Organization has found that India has 12.6 million laborers between the ages of 5 and 14, with roughly 20 percent working as domestic help. Other groups place the figure at 45 million or higher. Unicef has said India has more child laborers than any other country in the world.
Many of these children come from India’s poorest states, either through shadowy job placement agencies or by kidnapping. In 2011, more than 32,000 children were reported missing in India, according to government crime statistics.
Mala Bhandari, who runs Childline, a government hot line for child workers, said India’s urbanization and the rise of two-income families were driving demand for domestic help. Children are cheaper and more pliant than adults; Ms. Bhandari said a family might pay a child servant only $40 a month, less than half the wage commonly paid to an adult, if such servants are paid at all.